“The Red Lions is my first family,” says Victor Wegnez, one of the stars of Belgium gunning for hockey’s holy grail this summer; holding men’s world, Euro and Olympic titles. “When I entered the group, nothing was good in my life. When I came in everything changed. I was so welcomed and felt like a family.”
It is not by accident that Wegnez hails his team-mates as sole family. The 25-year-old, born on Christmas Day, was beaten regularly as a child by his now estranged father. Hockey was his saviour. “When I get on to the hockey field, I find myself really complete,” he reveals. “I’m playing the same way I lead my life. I’m always doing everything 100 per cent and when I’m on the field I want to die for my team-mates.”
Well before Wegnez exploded on to the scene with his creative brilliance, his mother was watching on the sidelines during a football kickabout with his cousins. She later told her five year-old son that the atmosphere was too rough and he should join his younger brother who was playing at nearby Royal Daring HC. The club and Wegnez’s school were soon safe havens away from Molenbeek, the tough neighbourhood of Brussels where he lived with a father who used his son as a “punching ball”.
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