Youri Tielemans match-winning strike for Leicester City in the FA Cup Final on Saturday was widely praised around Europe. He’s no overnight sensation. Talented, mature and a natural leader, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise that when the 2026 World Cup comes around, his name might be one that is frequently mentioned as someone that could be wearing the captain’s armband.
Now 24, Tielemans was once seen as one of the most talented players to come out of the Anderlecht academy, making his first team debut aged 16. From his early teens, Tielemans was thought to have a bright future, but despite making his debut so young, he really only blossomed once Steven Defour left the club. The young Youri could then assume responsibility as the club’s midfield general.
Tielemans played over 100 games for Anderlecht before moving to Monaco aged 20. They were one of many clubs who wanted his signature. It looked like a perfect move, but he arrived just as Monaco’s stars – Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva among them – were going in the opposite direction. Things never worked out and Monaco were happy to loan him out to Leicester City in 2019.
The King power Stadium was not an obvious choice for Tielemans, but it gave him the chance of regular first team football, unlike his ex-Anderlecht colleague Dennis Praet – three years older than Tielemans – but once almost as highly rated as Tielemans himself. Both midfielders are now regulars in the Belgium squad, but it is the younger midfielder who is now seen as one of the mainstays of the national team.
The arrival of Tielemans in Belgium’s midfield has no doubt pleased De Bruyne, as it has both taken some weight of his shoulders and allowed the Manchester City playmaker to assume a more flexible role. The Euros will be an important stepping stone for Tielemans, as he gradually assumes more responsibility in the national team.