Bruges v Man City: Why Charles de Ketelaere looks set to become Belgium's next superstar

Charles de Ketelaere was awarded their first goal by Belgium's Nations League defeat to Italy when Kevin de Bruyne scored Charles de Ketelaere.
Belgium football fans have been calling Charles de Ketelaere the heir to Kevin de Bruyne’s throne for several seasons.

De Bruyne provided the assist to De Ketelaere for his first goal in Belgium's Nations League third-place play-off against Italy.

Manchester City's playmaker sent a powerful trademark through ball to the youngster, who placed his shot between Gianluigi Donarumma and his legs.

Although it was only a consolation for the Red Devils, De Ketelaere embraced De Bruyne, it felt like a moment of maturity for a player who is expected to become Belgium's next great soccer player.

On Tuesday night, King Charles, as he is known in his homeland will face De Bruyne. But why is he so highly rated?

From Prince Charles to King

Two years ago, De Ketelaere exploded onto the Belgian football scene. He made his first two appearances for his boyhood club in Champions League defeats to Paris St-Germain.

'Prince Charles,' as he was known, was soon elevated to 'King' when he won a dramatic injury-time victory at Zenit St Petersburg a full year later. This goal saw his name in graffiti on a wall close to his home, and only 500m from Bruges Jan Breydel stadium.

A local boy is the new hero of Belgian soccer, sporting posters of ex-Players Club Bruges on his walls.

At seven years old, he joined the academy. He was a former ball boy and chose football to play tennis, even though he won regional youth tournaments.

De Ketelaere was not considered a top talent at first. This was due to his numerous growth spurts that led to injuries and prevented him from achieving any continuity.

He grew to 6ft 3in in height and was able to compete against the best European players.

He was the darling of the whole country by 2020.

De Ketelaere was a tall, creative, and technically gifted player. He became a popular figure for his dramatic goals.

He scored twice against Zenit last year and nearly did it again when they had to beat Lazio away on their last matchday to qualify for Champions League last 16. But, his incredible strike from a tight angle was just as impressive as Pepe Reina's goal.

He became the fifth Belgian footballer to win the 'Talent of the year' award. This award was established in 1998 and is open to promising young athletes. It follows in the footsteps of Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea, Liverpool, Divock Origi, and Kim Clijsters, who were all four-time grand-slam winners in tennis.

"Too shy to take selfies"

His personality has not changed despite his success.

The child prodigy lives with his mom and wants to live a normal, happy life. He was so shy to stop going to the bakery to take selfies, he stopped going there.

De Ketelaere's interests include darts and law studies. He had to leave university because his job was too stressful.

"Charles doesn’t want to be famous, he is a simple man. Frans Buyse, a BBC Sport journalist, says that Charles is not nervous and makes it look easy on the pitch.

His impact on this season's campaign is obvious to all who have followed his career closely. He has already made 98 professional appearances and won two Belgian top flight titles.

Club Bruges has been able to score four points in two Champions League matches and second place overall in Group A thanks to De Ketelaere

He already has four goals and three assists in 11 league matches this season.

Buyse said: "Charles's best position is number 10 but Hans Vanaken, an experienced star, plays there. So he was moved about, used in attack and even left-back.

"He started to enjoy life in penalty area but his greatest strength is to have lots of the ball in central Midfield.

"De Ketelaere is reminiscent De Bruyne in his style. He is smart, has great vision, and has a fantastic passing range. De Bruyne is also a fan of his dribbling. He should eventually take his place in Belgium."

Henk Vanhee, a veteran Club Bruges fan, said to BBC Sport: "We're extremely proud of Charles. We have waited for years for De Bruyne to be a great player like Lukaku, Eden Hazard or De Bruyne. Now we know that De Ketelaere is the right person to do it. His technical skills are amazing and his clever touches speed up the play. He will reach the top."

Sven Claes, a Belgian journalist, said that De Bruyne was looking for De Ketelaere against Italy. It was almost as if De Bruyne had assumed a fatherly role. They will be a lot of fun. This was only the beginning. "Class meets class"

Yet, they will be competing in Tuesday's Champions League.

The Club Bruges' current campaign began with a draw against PSG. De Ketelaere was the best player on pitch and outshone Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Messi. After that, he was an assister and part of another goal as the Belgian champions won 2-1 at Leipzig.

They are now ahead of Pep Guardiola's team before they face them twice. On Tuesday, King Charles will welcome De Bruyne into his castle - and he's more than capable of causing trouble for the Premier League champions.