Kevin De Bruyne says he is “like two different Kevins” when he steps on a football pitch – and admits one of those is “a little b*stard”.
While not a player known for his temper – the Belgian averages around one yellow card every 10 games for Manchester City – the driving force behind his success is a fierce will to win.
De Bruyne was asked about an incident in 2017, when he was held away from the match referee at half-time in a Champions League group stage match against Napoli.
City were 2-0 up going into the break but De Bruyne had been booked moments before the whistle and had to be shepherded off the pitch by David Silva and Fernandinho as he shouted, “Let me talk!”
“You see I’m an angry man on the pitch,” De Bruyne told Bleacher Report. “I think there was something with the referee where I got a yellow card and I wanted to ask him, ‘why the hell did you give me a yellow card?’
“I can fight, like, for a minute. After a minute I’m fine but at that time…
“When I’m playing, inside of me, it’s like two different Kevins. On the pitch, sometimes I’m a little b*stard!”
Despite his fury at the time, De Bruyne put in a man of the match performance as Pep Guardiola’s side eventually hung on to claim a 2-1 over Maurizio Sarri’s free-flowing Napoli side.
However aware of his own temper he may be, De Bruyne has only been sent off twice in his entire club career, and never since joining Manchester City.
As a youngster at Genk, he was shown two yellow cards in the first 20 minutes of a game against Club Brugge in 2010, though his side – which also featured future international team-mate Thibaut Courtois – still claimed a creditable 2-2 away draw.
Four years later, De Bruyne picked up the second, and to date last, sending-off of his club career while in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.
On this occasion, the second Kevin was perhaps on show. His side had just claimed a late equaliser at home to Augsburg but De Bruyne was booked for a foul in stoppage time, and promptly sent off for dissent.