Manchester City's Vincent Kompany: Why his school paid off

Story highlights

  • Vincent Kompany joined Manchester City from Hamburg in 2008
  • The defender is captain for both City and the Belgium national team
  • Kompany combined a football career with his studies as a teenager
  • He hopes to see authorities take a hard stance when tackling racism

While those about him have lost their heads, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has been a model of consistency.

Whether it is players falling foul of the law, refusing to play, or simply getting swept up by the revolving door at the club's Etihad Stadium, Kompany has seen a number of teammates and managers come and go during his five years in Manchester.

But the Belgian has led the line for City both on and off the pitch.

The 27-year-old is captain of both club and country and his leadership helped City clinch a first English championship in 44 years in 2012.

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His stellar performances and articulate interviews have made Kompany an idol among fans and a respected figure within the media.

Kompany's level head is something he credits to his education and his parents, who kept him grounded even when it became clear he was destined for sporting stardom.

"I couldn't go anywhere without finishing my studies," Kompany told CNN reflecting on the years he spent combining football and his education.

"I always remember playing in big games, millions of people watching, and the next day coming back at two o'clock in the morning.

"At eight o'clock I was just sitting on the bench with all my classmates and I was just a normal guy, but it's always given me the right balance.

"I thank my mother every day and my father every day for pushing me in that direction. They've never ever said to me, 'You're a great footballer. You've made it now just focus on your football.'

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"They've always said keep other things at hand and I guess I still have this in my life now."

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Kompany's present is a far cry from his parents' past. His parents fled Zaire, now known as Democratic Republic of Congo, during the regime of president Mobuto Sese Seko, heading to Belgium where Kompany was born and raised.

"They've given us so much love when we were younger, but I guess like any modern family as well, we've had our problems in the fight," said Kompany of his parents.

"We've had financial difficulties like any normal family would have, but I think that the biggest lesson for me is that we've always come back to that education, the strength to do our own thing ... knowing that we would be okay even if we didn't have any money because we knew exactly how to handle situations."

Despite the success he has enjoyed since signing for City in 2008, Kompany continues to have numerous extracurricular interests.

British newspaper the Daily Mail reported in January 2012 that Kompany had signed up for a three-year Business Administration course, while he also purchased a football club in his hometown and renamed it BX Brussels.

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The team, which plays at the bottom level of the Belgian football pyramid, is Kompany's attempt to ensure up and coming players are given the best possible start to their careers.

"I played football for Anderlecht from the age of 6 to the age of 20 so that has had a big impact on my life, at the same time as my parents and the schools I went to," he explained.

"I really believe that the interactions between all of those different assets led me to be better.

"I want to make a very strong link into the schools, maybe sometimes even the life at home for the kids.

"I think a part of the reason why a lot of young kids fail is because they don't have the support from home that they need to."

One obstacle faced by some modern footballers is racism. The key to tackling discrimination, according to Kompany, is also education.

While Kompany pays little heed to the abusers, he still says it is important for the game's governing bodies to clamp down on the vocal minority.

"It's a very sad life, it's a very sad way of behaving so I wouldn't give them too much attention," he added.

"But at the same time, as much as I wouldn't teach my kids to give them too much attention, I hope the governing bodies will be extremely hard and extremely exemplary in the way that they deal with those situations."

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