Kevin de Bruyne names Liverpool icon as one of his football heroes

Kevin de Bruyne has opened up on Liverpool icon Michael Owen and the impact he had on his development as a football player during his early years, during a feature with Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's Manchester Derby.
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Kevin de Bruyne has opened up on Liverpool icon Michael Owen and the impact he had on his development as a football player during his early years, during a feature with Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's Manchester Derby.

The Belgian midfielder has admitted that during his early years as a footballer, he played as a striker given his height and build - which he likened to Owen, who made over 200 appearances for the Merseyside club as well as registering several fond moments for the England national team.

Speaking to Sky Sports, De Bruyne said, "When I was younger, when we played seven against seven, I played as a striker. I was really small, very quick, so I think we had a lot of similarities at the time."

"He's also one of the first players I remembered in 1998, with the goal for England against Argentina - it's one of the first memories I really have about football", he continued.

The 29 year-old then discussed the struggles of securing playing time while at Stamford Bridge, prior to his move to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. De Bruyne claimed that leaving Chelsea was the 'best decision' for him in order to develop further as a top-level athlete in the game.

Speaking on that point in his career, De Bruyne said, "I decided to go away because I felt that I didn't have any chances of playing at that time and I didn't see more opportunities coming for me, so for me it was the best decision for me to leave Chelsea and go to a situation where I felt I could start again and be new and prove myself."

The Belgium international's rise from that point has been nothing short of astronomical. His breakthrough campaign in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg in 2014/2015 saw him register 10 goals and a staggering 21 assists. On top of that, De Bruyne won both the Bundesliga Player of the Year, and Footballer of the Year in Germany.

It was no surprise why Manchester City broke the bank at the time to secure the Belgian's services, but De Bruyne admits that he did not expect things to go as well as they have done since he left Chelsea in search of game time.

"It went really, really quickly. Did I expect it to go this way? Obviously not because at that time you're a bit bitter, a low point in your career, but I never had any doubts in my ability as a football player. I can't think about what's going to happen eight years down the line and playing for City and playing in World Cups. It's been wonderful."

Kevin de Bruyne will be looking to captain his Manchester City side as they take on city rivals Manchester United on Sunday afternoon - an opportunity for Pep Guardiola's squad to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 17 points, and strengthen their grip on the title with just a few months of the season remaining.

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