He said: “If the EU was to collapse as a result of this, we are going back into a very dangerous territory, especially when you look at how the political landscape is changing in Europe.”
“If you split up Europe and get a whole load of lunatics in isolation, who get elected based on hardline rhetoric, who is going to be the first guy to press the button because he’s pushed himself into a corner?”
His father was elected last year as Belgium’s first black mayor in Brussels’ Ganshoren district.
His white Belgian mother, Jocelyne, who died from cancer in 2008, was a union leader who worked for Brussels’ government employment agency.
His dad, Pierre, who left the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1975 as a political refugee, drove a taxi at night to support the family – Vincent has two siblings – while completing a degree in engineering.
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“My dad wasn’t accepted in the family at the beginning. My mother comes from the most rural village you can imagine and when she arrived, in the 70s, with my dad, straight from Africa, it was a shock.
“It was ignorance. My dad always ended up being accepted because of his personality. It was normal for us to go to youth tournaments and be called monkeys; parents shouting it. That would nearly cause a fist fight with my mother. We were taught to be stronger.”
He joined Anderlect, aged six, and remained there until he was 20. “Football was, first of all, a way for my parents to get me off the streets. It was the most competitive environment you’ve ever known. I loved every bit of it, but if you talk about dealing with stuff at a young age, you want to see elite football. You’re not a child.”
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“I had an edge, a different way of dealing with things,” he says. “My parents always revolted against inequality or unfairness, so you can imagine that when my teacher would punish someone – or me – for something that wasn’t fair, I wouldn’t take it.”
“I’ve been sometimes very, very close to being on an extremely wrong path. If I had wanted to sell drugs, I could literally have gone downstairs and walked into some dark and shady operation.
“Setbacks, racism – everything was like feeding a fire. The biggest danger to me is complacency or inaction, which I never allow into my life. These are the defining moments – that age where you can throw everything away by being the worst version of yourself.”