The Best Moments of Kevin De Bruyne's Career So Far

Jun 28, 2020, 3:30 PM GMT+1
Kevin De Bruyne is one of Manchester City's best players.
Kevin De Bruyne is one of Manchester City's best players. | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Do you ever thank your lucky stars that of all the fascinating historical periods you could have been born into, you popped up in the one where you get to watch Kevin De Bruyne turn out for Manchester City every week?

Even the most hardline of Manchester United supporters would have to admit that watching the Belgian in full flight is one of football's most breathtaking experiences, and even before joining the Cityzens in 201, he was well on his way to becoming one of the best players to do it in the modern era.

The man who has ascended to the footballing pinnacle alongside Pep Guardiola wasn't always guaranteed to soar, however, and the story of Kevin De Bruyne's career, as told through its greatest moments, is as much a story of redemption as one of sustained excellence.

Sealing Werder Bremen's Survival Hopes

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De Bruyne managed ten goals and 9 assists in the league for Bremen | AFP/Getty Images

What makes his success even more remarkable is the fact that, for a few years at least, English football fans placed De Bruyne in part of the footballing wilderness (because no-one could ever carve a legitimate career outside of the glorious Barclays).

It's well-documented that after moving to Chelsea from Genk in 2012, De Bruyne wasn't exactly in the Blues' short term plans, and a loan to Werder Bremen soon followed.

The young De Bruyne was magnificent for Die Werderaner, contributing to 19 league goals overall, but the most important of these came on the final day of the season, with an under-pressure Bremen side facing the drop.

A 21-year-old De Bruyne opened the scoring in the 21st minute, helping his side on their way to a vital point which would secure their top-flight status.

Breaking the Bundesliga Assist Record

Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne was a creative mastermind at Wolfsburg | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

De Bruyne was far from finished with Bundesliga football after his stint with Bremen ended, partially because when he got back to Chelsea his gaffer was that most even-minded judge of mercurial attackers, José Mourinho.

After a painful year, where he played just nine times in all competitions, De Bruyne decided to cut his losses in England (for now) and return to the league where everyone knew his name.

It turned out to be a pretty good shout, as after a difficult first season by his own high standards, De Bruyne toppled Zvjezdan Misimovic's almighty Bundesliga assist record, finishing with 19 for the season.

It took half a decade for anyone to better that, with the great Thomas Müller inching ahead of his former rival with 21 during the 2019/20 season.

Crashing Curler Puts City in Champions League Semis

Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne smashed City into their first ever Champions League semi-final | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Wait, City actually used to win Champions League quarter-finals instead of imploding in the most spectacular way possible?

Well, it was just the once, and in fairness it's fitting that an event that has happened exactly zero times since required one of De Bruyne's greatest flourishes in a Man City shirt.

The Cityzens were in pretty good nick after a 2-2 draw against PSG in Paris, but after Sergio Agüero sent an early penalty wide (good thing he left that habit in the past, eh?), the old nerves started creeping in.

Enter KDB, who stepped past Edinson Cavani to bend one into the bottom corner - a familiar sight by now (minus Cavani), but positively historic in 2016. Sadly, it was just about the least complicated Champions League quarter-final De Bruyne would ever be involved in.

Mourinho Dismantled in Manchester Derby

Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne succeeded in getting one over his old manager | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

By September 2016, De Bruyne was settling in rather nicely to his new new life in England with City, but one thing was missing - a goal in the Manchester Derby.

When the man who made his old new life in England such a bother took the reins at Old Trafford, the Belgian must have been licking his lips at the chance to kill two birds with one stone, and he ended up doing so in emphatic fashion.

It took 15 minutes for De Bruyne to score against Mourinho's United, and 20 minutes later he had one of the great assists to his name, somehow hitting the post from an exquisite drive, leaving Kelechi Iheanacho to gratefully turn in the rebound.

Vengeance Mission Continues Against Chelsea

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This was a huge result on the way to City's third Premier League title | AFP Contributor/Getty Images

At times, De Bruyne's ascendancy has resembled a Kill Bill style quest to get his own back on those that didn't give him a chance during his first try in the English game.

His old club Chelsea were his next victim in September 2017, with the reigning champions doing their best to cling on against a City team that would eventually be remembered as record-breakers (but more on that later).

Justice was executed swiftly and mercilessly in the 67th minute, when De Bruyne shaped as if he was about to curl the ball into the bottom-left corner, before catching Thibaut Courtois out with a thunderous shot that swerved to the right of the goal.

I'm sure Chelsea ultimately weren't exactly happy about selling De Bruyne, but it felt like poetic justice.

Bringing Belgium to the Brink of World Cup Glory Against Brazil

Brazil v Belgium: Quarter Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
De Bruyne was instrumental in conquering one of the pre-tournament favourites | Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

The Belgium team of the 2018 World Cup was brilliant and inexplicable at the same time. They seemed to score three goals every game, made a mockery of England twice, Nacer Chadli spent half of the tournament at left-back and it was all presided over by a former Wigan manager.

Amid all the excitement of the weird and wonderful team that might be one of the best sides never to win a World Cup, Kevin De Bruyne was superlative both in midfield and across the forward line - and against Brazil he made an emphatic announcement of his international pedigree.

Again, it was an absolute missile from outside the box which did the job (change the record Kev), giving his country a lead which proved to be unassailable. Belgium's tournament would sadly peter out in the semi-final as De Bruyne was blunted by a robust France side, and he's arguably still lacking a Champions League or World Cup winners' medal that would reflect his considerable standing in the game.

Setting Up Jesus for City Century

Gabriel Jesus
After Aguero (90+3) there was Jesus (90+4) | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

If there's one thing a Man City fan should never do, it's turn off a game before added time.

Case in point, Gabriel Jesus setting an extraordinary Premier League record at St Mary's (which, to be fair, might be broken pretty soon) with the last kick of the entire season.

The man behind the magic? Kevin De Bruyne, who launched an extraordinary pass from deep inside his own half to cut out all of Southampton's defenders and produce the goal which landed City their 100th point of the season.

Cameo Role in Cup Heroics

Kevin De Bruyne
2019 saw de Bruyne win the FA Cup for the first time | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

It's strange to think that out of everything De Bruyne has ever won, it took him until 2019 to get his hands on football's oldest trophy, but he had a hell of a time while doing so.

Having made sure of City's passage to the final with his inch-perfect cross to Gabriel Jesus in the semi, De Bruyne found himself on the bench with Guardiola eager to protect his talisman's fitness.

No matter - De Bruyne made up for lost time by scoring within six minutes of his introduction, before effortlessly laying on an assist for Jesus and all-but-assisting Raheem Sterling in an ever-so-slightly one-sided victory.

Masterclass in Madrid

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De Bruyne saved his best for the Bernabeu | OSCAR DEL POZO/Getty Images

And now, we come to De Bruyne's most recent triumph, a virtuoso performance in Spain that gave Man City the chance of one of their biggest Champions League scalps since perhaps that PSG game that he settled in 2016.

Guardiola might have felt like another collapse was inevitable after Isco opened the scoring early on, but one of the world's most consistent footballers was not to be denied here, and carved out chance after chance, walking through Luka Modric, Casemiro and Federico Valverde like they weren't there.

The Belgian combined yet again with Gabriel Jesus in a huge match, this time by means of an ingenious turn which allowed him to get a cross away. And then, the pleasure of scoring against his old rival Thibaut Courtois, a simple enough penalty, but an extremely satisfying way to cap off a stellar evening.

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