Vincent Kompany has revealed in a new book about him he was racially abused as a young footballer.
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The Manchester City captain grew up in Brussels, where he began his career in a multicultural team, and said adults taunted him and other boys who were the children and grandchildren of immigrants with racist words.
The 28-year-old revealed the abuse turned him into a rebel and said he was expelled from school.
He said in an interview for a new Flemish-language biography "Vincent Kompany -- Van Ket tot Kapitein," reported in The Sun: "Our team had lads with African, Turkish and Italian origins. Whenever we played matches outside Brussels we got dog's abuse from our opponents' parents.
"Boys of 11 or 12 were being called 'dirty n-----.' They also claimed the African lads were older than the ages in their passports, while the referees did nothing. Racism and inequality make me rebel."
Kompany made his professional debut at Anderlecht, but said he had initially left the club in frustration at his inability to get into the first team.
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He added: "I quit playing football for two weeks at Anderlecht. I played well for their youth side but couldn't break into the senior squad. It was always the same story -- they preferred the players they'd signed to their own youth products and I found it very hard to accept."
Kompany, who speaks five languages and captains his club and country, has earned a reputation as one of the more intelligent and eloquent footballers. But he wasn't a model student as his schoolwork suffered after his parents separated, saying: "I can imagine the teachers found me pretentious. Sometimes I was wrong, sometimes I was right.
"My parents split up when I was 14. I couldn't understand why and it hurt. Luckily, I knew other kids with divorced parents, so I didn't feel alone and I took refuge in football. My father lost his job, I was thrown out of school and had to repeat a year and lost my place in the Belgium youth team.
"I had problems with teachers and coaches, hung out more on the streets and had friends who misbehaved."
Kompany is considered one of the best defenders in the Premier League, and in his time at City has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup. He also won the Belgian title twice with Anderlecht.