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    Exclusive: Burnley boss Vincent Kompany on parents, boardrooms and politics – ‘We need more diversity than ever before’

    Vincent Kompany has always been a natural leader, but the Burnley manager looks back at his childhood in Belgium and wonders whether those characteristics could have led him down the wrong path.

    The Manchester City great has been speaking to TNT Sports’ Sign Up about how his parents’ influence helped him make the right decisions in life.

    And although he has no plans to follow his dad into politics – he has called for greater diversity in management positions across society, including football’s boardrooms.

    A Premier League stalwart as a player, Kompany is experiencing his first season as a manager in England’s top flight. His Burnley side dominated the Championship to bounce straight back up last campaign, but it has been a tough start this season.

    One win (over fellow promoted club Luton) has left the Clarets second from bottom after 10 matches so far.

    But Kompany will not stop fighting – he was born this way. A lot of that comes from his parents.

    His father Pierre fled what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, then under the dictatorship of president Mobutu, and moved to Belgium in the 1970s. He went on to become the country’s first Black mayor.

    “His story is something I’m very proud of, my mother as well,” said Kompany.

    “She is very driven, a unionist, with very strong opinions, very much against injustice. We were raised by people with passion in their convictions.

    “It’s not just myself, but my brother and sister as well, we have extreme determination, drive, energy. There’s nothing that doesn’t fuel the motivation.

    “We had a fantastic season last season in the Championship. It was unbelievable, but it didn’t stop me from being extremely hard working and motivated for the next season. I have that from my parents, I’ve had it throughout my career, my life.”

    Kompany has had extraordinary success during his career, but it might not have been this way.

    He speaks fondly about his childhood while recognising it was a battle to stay out of trouble.

    “I had extremely wonderful educational happy periods of my life with my parents. We didn’t have a lot of money but they took us places, we visited museums, we always had debates at the table from a young age.

    “But my dad lost his job, my parents got separated, we lived with our dad for a while on our own and it was a tough neighbourhood. I got thrown out of school, I got thrown out of the national team when I was younger.

    “I had this extremely positive experience but also stuff that could have been traumatising in my youth that I don’t want my children to go through – or any child.

    “I was always a positive person, I was always a leader – but where I grew up, being a leader could have put you on a bad path. Making those strong decisions to stay on that right path gives me the rewards that I have today.”

    ‘He will manage City!’ – Guardiola full of praise for Kompany ahead of FA Cup clash

    Kompany says he has no interest in going into politics – “you have to adapt what you say, not necessarily say what you believe” – but he is calling for change across leadership positions, including football. He has experienced racism throughout his life and says giving power to people from different backgrounds can only be a good thing.

    “I think in general for the whole of society, we need more diversity in the boardrooms than ever before,” said Kompany.

    “Nowadays you always get pushed into saying black or white, you get pushed into a decision saying you’re for this or against that, you can’t ever have anything where you have a discussion about it, can I understand both perspectives?

    “When you have these big institutions of power, if they are black or white (opinions), the entire institution that goes with it will go that way. You see it in every single facet of life – it’s exerting influence.

    “If the boardrooms are more diverse, say there is the opinion of black and the opinion of white – I’m not talking about the colour of skin, I’m speaking about opinions – then what comes from that can’t be one colour. It’ll be grey, yellow, brown, but there will be change. Not just with football, in everything.”

    Burnley will attempt to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth last weekend when they host Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

    At the same time, Kompany’s former side Manchester City will continue their challenge at the other end of the table. Kompany is very much focused on this project though, and not looking back on his past glories.

    “It’s difficult to bring yourself back into the world of being a player. It’s been a healthy thing,” says Kompany, who moved straight into management with Anderlecht after retiring from playing.

    “When you finish your career, how do you move on? Since the age of six I was in a team. What do you do next?

    “Management has helped me put that to one side, it’s funny because I walked past a TV and there was a half an hour documentary about my career and I was like ‘oh yeah I did that’.

    “It’s never at the forefront of my mind, it’s so far away from my day today. I want to be the best at what I do now, and that matters more to me than anything.”

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