"I couldn't care less, the bigger the better!" — Rivalries have never intimidated derby veteran Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany was playing football in the streets of Brussels with his friends on the eve of his first derby game.

The defender had just turned 17 at the time, he had played seven games for Anderlecht in the Belgian Pro League, and he was readying himself to face Club Brugge in "The Topper" at the previously named Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.

Many teenagers with such inexperience might have been terrified at the prospect of playing in a game of such magnitude, but a "jumpers for goalposts" prelude embodied Kompany's cool-headedness.

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He said: "I've always been quite lucky with that, even as a player, to be quite good in those moments, I don't really experience too much trouble in preparing for these days.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Vincent Kompany Burnley Manager during the Sky Bet Championship between Burnley and Norwich City at Turf Moor on October 25, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

"When I tell you I was quite chilled [for his first derby], it was to the point where my first big game was against Club Brugge at home, and until 11 p.m. at night I was playing football with my friends in the street.

"I mean it. I couldn't care less, the bigger the better! It wasn't something that phased me in my career and, in my experience, that would take care of itself."

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It was a state of near meditation that the Uccle-born centre back adopted in six other high-pressured games with Blauw-Zwart, five fixtures against Standard Liege in "The Clasico" and 24 Manchester derbies against city rivals United.

Remembrance Sunday might be Kompany's first experience of an East Lancashire conflict, but it isn't his first rodeo. And, unsurprisingly, the Burnley boss exudes the cool, calm and collected mentality that served him well as a player.

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Standard's Almani Da Silva Moreira (L) chases Anderlecht's Vincent Kompany (R) during the first league football match Standard vs Anderlecht, 14 December 2005, in Liege. Standard defeated Anderlecht 2-0. BELGA PHOTO MICHEL KRAKOWSKI (Photo by MICHEL KRAKOWSKI / BELGA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MICHEL KRAKOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

"I understand it," Kompany confirmed. "We have a few derbies of our own abroad and they all have the ingredients you can imagine of high drama, but once you’re on the pitch you’ve got to have a bubble.

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"We have the 'Clasico' in Belgium, which is Standard Liege, and a big game against Bruges. I was very young, I was 17, but I was part of an experienced team and those guys just knew what to do.

"When to build momentum, when to kill momentum, to take the chances when you have them and be solid. I have never seen the best players in these games rush into it, you handle it as you are supposed to handle it as a professional player."

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Sheffield United might have other ideas — with the Blades facing Cardiff City in South Wales beforehand — but as things stand the latest instalment of one of the country's oldest rivalries could present itself as a battle between the top two.

October's Championship Manager of the Month doesn't believe this particular fixture will be season-defining but, with the curtain closing on the domestic programme ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, he feels it has all the ingredients to be a real humdinger.

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“I think it’s lined up to be – even for neutrals – a good game," he said. "It’s always nice to have a derby where the two teams are fighting at the top end of a league because it increases the relevance of the game.

“What I would say is that in terms of who is going to win the league, or even get into the play-offs, I can’t imagine for a second that winning or losing this game would change the complexity of the rest of the schedule. There’s still so much to be played."

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Kompany concluded: "It's a derby for both teams, we're all going through it. It's a little bit like a final, it's about managing the occasion. You get those that descend into chaos and you get those that are a bit slower.

"We embrace the fact that everybody else treats it as a special game, but for ourselves it's business as usual. We've got a game, an opponent, and we've got to win because that's what this team wants to do in this league.

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"I think both teams will be fresh and I think that's a good start for such a big game."