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Vincent Kompany has revealed he thought Kevin de Bruyne was overrated when he first clapped eyes on the Belgium superstar.
Kompany went on to win eight major trophies alongside de Bruyne as the pair helped establish Manchester City as the most powerful force in English football.
The fellow countrymen are now close friends after becoming legends at both club and international level.
But Kompany insists he didn't think de Bruyne was good enough when the midfielder joined the Belgium squad for the first time back in 2010.
De Bruyne has just been named PFA Player of the Year, but Komany once feared the 29-year-old might not make it to the top.
He said: "I must say he came into the national team when he was very, very young and at the time he really didn't leave a good impression with me.
"I don't know. I thought he just seemed to moan a lot. He tried a lot of things that weren't coming off at that time when he came, and I said it's a shame, because we could have done with some more talent in the team.
"Anyway, as time went by, and then things happened and all of a sudden, before you knew it, he's the best player we have. I knew it all the time!"
De Bruyne has gone on to win 74 caps and establish himself as one of the world's best players.
Kompany is convinced this wouldn't have happened had De Bruyne not joined City to work under Pep Guardiola.
"He had an edge and when he didn't perform on the pitch you're like 'well you have an edge and you don't perform, what's that all about?'.
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"But later on you realise that's his true strength. He has an edge in everything he does – when he tries to recover the ball, he's got a bit of a mean streak about him as well, where he doesn't mind getting physical.
"I do think, to get the best out of Kev, you need to play in a certain way. You never get the best out of Kevin if you aren't an attacking-minded team, and I mean in attacking in every way – pressing, possession, tacking.
"So in terms of Kevin coming to City, and Kevin meeting Pep, really, the paths that crossed were the perfect blend for him. I don't think he would have ever gotten the most out of his career unless he had worked with Pep."
- Manchester City FC
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