No nonsense Wilmots marshalling Belgium renaissance
Brussels: Marc Wilmots` hiring as coach of a then misfiring Belgium team back in May 2012 can safely be classified as one of the Belgium football federation`s better decisions.
Under 45-year-old Wilmots stewardship the Red Devils have returned to the World Cup fray after a 12 year absence.
As a combative midfielder affectionately known as Kampfschwein (War Pig) by Schalke fans Wilmots took over a Belgian side that had failed to reach the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Now, with a glittering array of talent firmly embedded at some of Europe`s top clubs Wilmots` men galloped through qualifying to Brazil with a swagger in their step.
Recognition for reaching the finals came with a two year extension to his contract, leading up to the 2016 European Championships in France.
While many of his squad will be experiencing the World Cup for the first time Wilmots in contrast is a veteran of four finals, and accrued 28 goals in 70 international appearances.
His experience at this exalted level will surely come in useful as he attempts to steer his players through an on paper at least negotiable Group H containing Algeria, Russia and South Korea.
But he is wary of his squad`s inexperience, telling Belgian paper Gazet van Antwerpen in April: "The group is very hungry, that`s kind of my fear, that they want to go too much and too hard - if you want to do, well, you make mistakes. At this level, they are inexperienced."
In Brazil, if he should bump into England boss Roy Hodgson, they will have more than the weather to chat about.
Sixteen years ago the pair crossed swords under very different circumstances - Wilmots at the height of his playing days with Bundesliga side Schalke - Hodgson as manager of Inter Milan.
The two clubs met in the 1997 UEFA Cup final with Wilmots scoring a goal in the first leg, and then converting the decisive spot kick when it went to penalties.
A year after the 2002 World Cup where he produced three goals Wilmots hung up his boots and turned to politics, entering the Belgian Senate after the 2003 election for the liberal-leaning Mouvement Reformateur.
But the lure of football was to prove too great and he controversially resigned as a senator in 2005.
He`d already been appointed, and promptly sacked, as manager of one of his former Belgian sides and then acted as assistant to Belgian national team managers Dick Advocaat and Georges Leekens.
No shrinking violet, Wilmots is a plain speaker, as one of his squad found out to their cost last month.
Everton`s Kevin Mirallas was told by his boss to "stop talking nonsense" after he`d said there was no place in the Belgium side for Adnan Januzaj, the talented Manchester United midfielder who had ended months of speculation by choosing to represent Belgium.
In Brazil, Wilmots will be looking to his players to do all the talking.