I recently watched this amazing video of Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgian superstar Manchester City footballer, who, even as early as December, is being touted as the Player of the Season due to his scintillating performances for his side. Now, even if you’re not a football fan or whether you are interested in the sublime skills this young man can execute, there is a message in his journey that is relevant to all of us, and a powerful one if you teach young people.
You see, only keen fans of the Premier League will know that De Bruyne was signed by Chelsea (not Manchester City) in 2012 for £7million. No small fee for a 21 year old unknown but equally not earth-shattering in the grand scheme of transfer fees. However, he wasn’t seen as first-team ready so was loaned out to Germany before making his Chelsea debut against Hull in 2013 (the highlight video above). De Bruyne was finally given an opportunity by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea at the start of the 2013/14 season. In this game, he was actually named Man of the Match. He provided a brilliant assist for Oscar by nutmegging a Hull defender with a pass and pulled the strings in the Chelsea midfield during his 66 minutes on the pitch.
So you’d think he went on to become a Chelsea hero just like the commentator, Alan Smith, suggested, right? Not quite. Remarkably, he only made a further two appearances in the league before he signed for Wolfsburg in January 2014 for £18 million.
One-and-a-half seasons later he returned to England with Man City willing to pay £55 million for him. His stats this season are impressive to say the least: as of 02.12.17, in 15 games, he has made 47 chances. His passing accuracy is 84%. Even without quantifiable numbers, every person who watches him play can see he is world-class.
Not only that, he has now had a hand in over 50 Premier League goals (16 goals, 34 assists). He has done this in 76 appearances, which is the quickest by any out-and-out midfielder in the history of the competition.
So what is the message in De Bruyne’s story? There are loads if you look carefully and want to learn the lessons but I have picked out 5. All of these are poignant for life but particularly for young people:
1. If it doesn’t work out first time, don’t give up. De Bruyne probably thought he’d made it when he signed for Chelsea and then had a debut like that. It took him another 4 years. It might not happen on your first attempt. It make time to grasp that Maths concept or that essay question.
2. One good game doesn’t make you a worldie. Just because you did well on one test or aced that subject, don’t get over-inflated in your own ability. People might even sing and dance over you but don’t get carried away.
3. Go about your job quietly. De Bruyne has never been in the headlines telling everyone how unfairly he was treated at Chelsea. He just went about his job and became the £55m man. Sometimes in life things aren’t fair. In schools, we have to suck it up and keep being our best until the appointed time.
4. Not everyone will recognise your greatness. Jose Mourinho must have seen something in De Bruyne but obviously not enough because he sold him for £18m. I bet he regrets that now (as does every Chelsea fan watching him at City!). Some people will pour cold water on your dream or might even conspire for you not to achieve. Without wanting to quote Journey (or Glee if you’re under 40!) don’t stop believing or being who you need to be.
5. Sometimes you have to go out of where you think you need to be in order to find your place. De Bruyne went out on loan and became almost the forgotten man. Sometimes, we have to leave what we know and where we think it’s going to happen to step out into the unknown in order to achieve what is in us.
So, a lesson in life from football. Who’d have thought it?
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