Vincent Kompany admits Belgium have not deserved to qualify for previous major tournaments, ahead of his debut at the FIFA World Cup.
The 28-year-old made his international debut against France as a 17-year-old in February 2004, and over a decade later is still to feature in a World Cup or the UEFA European Championships.
Subsequently, Kompany has had to be a frustrated spectator, but the Manchester City centre-back confesses that Belgium have missed out on the marquee tournaments for a reason.
He told The Guardian: “I would watch because I am a football freak but I would hate every single minute of it.
“The one thing that made me get over it quickest was the fact that we never deserved to be there. If you don’t deserve to be there you have to deal with it.
“On many occasions we didn’t deserve to be there. I understood the fact I had to be a spectator.”
Belgium’s last appearance at the World Cup came in 2002 in Japan and South Korea, but Marc Wilmots’ men have emerged as dark horses for the tournament in Brazil.
A superb UEFA qualifying campaign, which saw Belgium top Group A undefeated, helped support that view, and Kompany credits the harmony in the squad as the reason for their success.
“There are many countries who can only dream of this kind of brotherhood that we have among us,” he added. “The division before was mainly based on age.
“It was a conflict of generations, a conflict of the way we are now versus the way they were before.
“We (the current squad) all grew up together through the ranks and we are really friends. I get on with anyone in my team and I am really happy when I play with them.”