REUTERS: Belgium have two seasoned match-winners in Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard for next month's European Championship but the player who may overshadow them is the exciting Youri Tielemans.
The 24-year-old Leicester City midfielder has already produced heroics at club level with the winning goal in the FA Cup final and will go into Euro 2020 in top form, even if he has already played more than 60 matches in this campaign.
It has been a breakthrough season for Tielemans, not only establishing himself in the Premier League but also with Belgium where his place in the team is not always guaranteed.
It is going to be hard for coach Robert Martinez to start him on the bench, however, given just how influential he has proven to be in the last few months.
“I’m pleased where I am right now. Three-and-a-half-years ago I was called up for the first time. I felt like a young guest trying to learn as much as I could from the older guys,” Tielemans said during the March internationals.
In the wake of his FA Cup final winner against Chelsea, Tielemans has been praised for his vision, physical strength and engine. He is known as the ‘marathon man’ at his club.
Equally adept with both feet, he has strength from his junior days practising judo and remarkably has had only one injury in seven years as a professional – a meniscus tear in his knee during his time at AS Monaco.
“Youri is a proper athlete. He respects his body, never drinks alcohol, flushes his muscles after every match and takes the right supplements,” Belgium's team doctor Kristof Sas recently told Het Nieuwsblad.
As a young father of two, there is also a mental tranquility about him, says his agent Peter Smeets.
“The day after the cup final he went with his family to the playground. It is a way for him to switch off,” he said.
The Belgians have long earmarked him as a future leader of their team. Martinez saw him first as a 19-year-old in 2016 playing for Anderlecht and immediately selected him. “That boy's like a captain. He set the pace,” he said at the time.
At club level Brendan Rodgers agrees. “Youri is such an important player for us," the Leicester manager said recently.
"He knows what I want and he's such a pure midfielder. His passing and insight influences our attacks and, although he is still young, his experience and communication are vital to us."
(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)