Hundred caps for your homeland? I would never have dared to dream that when I made my debut in November 2011.
That first international match will of course always stay in your memory. That first time being told you are starting a match for your country, that first time putting on the number 1 shirt, that first time singing along to the Brabanconne with the cameras focused on you. It all seems like the most normal thing in the world now, but I was only 19 and the youngest goalkeeper ever with the Red Devils. That first cap, a friendly match at the Stade de France against France, ended 0-0, a first-time clean sheet as well.
The most interesting match in the early days was against the Netherlands in 2012. With a couple of good interventions, I was able to help the team to a 4-2 victory. When we came into the locker room after the match, we all realized that it could be the start of something very beautiful. Winning against the Netherlands gave enormous satisfaction for a boy from Bilzen who lives near the Dutch border.
The hunger to compete with the big football countries was an incentive to make it to the 2014 World Cup. The celebration after winning in Croatia when we were allowed to book the tickets to Brazil still makes me smile.
Step by step we climbed to number one in the FIFA rankings. Of course, I am very happy that I was able to contribute to this. The highlight of these 100 international matches is definitely the World Cup in Russia. The match against Brazil (2-1 win) will remain in my memory forever, earning me the prize of best goalkeeper of the World Cup.
Meanwhile, we are three World Cups and two European Championships further and I have seen all corners of Europe and even the world with the national team. Not only has it been a real adventure in terms of football, the encounter with other cultures has also shaped me as a human being. Very soon I will play my 100th international game and try to keep a clean sheet for the 50th time. 1 out of 2 at this level is a number I am quite proud of.
However, I could not have achieved all these experiences and successes without the unconditional love and commitment of my family, the cooperation with all the other Red Devils and staff and the never-ending support of the fans. Without all these people, I could never have completed this course.