Roberto Martinez picked out Kevin De Bruyne as the player that showed the qualities that Belgium fans should be proud of after their European Championship quarter-final exit at the hands of Italy.
Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne missed the beginning of the tournament after suffering facial fractures in the Champions League final, and after working his way back to fitness a nasty tackle in the last-16 win over Portugal left him unable to train for much of the preparations for Italy.
De Bruyne himself admitted it was a miracle that he was able to play in the match, and speaking afterwards his coach praised him for setting the example of giving everything for your national team.
“I think we managed the situation with Axel [Witsel] and Kevin and Eden [Hazard] going into the tournament very, very well and you could see the attitude of the players,” said Martinez. “They started to grow into the tournament and they’ve been a real bonus. They really helped us from the moment they could be on the pitch.
“Obviously injuries happen and it’s unfortunate that Eden couldn’t be on the pitch for us but it was exemplary to see Kevin De Bruyne getting through whatever he could to get 90 minutes with his national team and show that he was ready to help the group.
“For every Red Devil fan, there is real pride and understanding that these players did everything they could to try to get what we wanted to get and unfortunately today we faced a very good team, the small margins went for them and that happens in football.”