BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Kevin De Bruyne is still struggling with a dead feeling on the left hand side of his face after a double fracture but said it would not hinder his performance at the European Championship.
Belgium’s midfield talisman broke an eye socket and his nose in last month's Champions League final and made a belated entry into Euro 2020 on Thursday, quickly reminding the world of his prodigious talent as he engineered a comeback for his country as they beat Denmark 2-1 in Copenhagen.
The 29-year-old said he had little sensation on the side of his face and had been told by doctors, who performed minor surgery on his eye socket, it would only disappear after a few months. “It is just a bit irritating,” he told a news conference on Saturday.
“But I am used to it now. I am also less scared in the heading duels. When I was on the field, I did not think about it anymore."
De Bruyne suffered the injury in a clash with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger as his Manchester City finished on the losing side in Porto.
“I was not upset with Rudiger, it was one of those things that happens on the field. He tried to block me, not to break my nose, and so it was unlucky for me.”
De Bruyne left the field in tears, and Belgian fans feared it might impact his performance at the Euros.
But the disappointment did not last long, he said.
“The fact that we had such an incredible season with City softened the blow. We tried everything to win, and it did not work out. That's just part of the way it works in sport."
De Bruyne will start a game for the first time since the May 29 final when Belgium meet Finland in their last Group B match in St Petersburg on Monday.
"I knew I would not make the first match against Russia but might get some time off the bench against Denmark. I think the timing with 45 minutes (against Denmark) and then starting against Finland is ideal to get some rhythm back.
"I felt good being back, the first half hour was good. After that it was more difficult, but that was normal because I was playing my first minutes in three weeks. I hope to be able to hold out against Finland for a longer period of time," he added.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)