BRASILIA, Brazil – Daniel Van Buyten has been written off as too old and too slow many more times than Lionel Messi has been crowned the best player in the world.
Yet at 36, he stands at the heart of the Belgian defense ready to blunt Argentina's forwards in the World Cup quarterfinals — and after an outstanding four matches so far, the strategy is not as absurd as it sounds.
Amplifying the age factor, Van Buyten says "I'm almost 37. I am at the World Cup. All goes well." That is before meeting Messi.
When most of the attention has been on captain Vincent Kompany, it has been his partner in central defense — "Big Dan" — who has been impressive in ways that few expected.