IT is fair to say the Belgian football media have changed their mind about the merits or otherwise of Dedryck Boyata.

Or to put it a more accurate way, the player himself has forced them to alter their opinion on him.

Two years ago, the Celtic defender missed out on the European Championships with an injury which provoked nothing more than a shrug among supporters of Roberto Martinez’s talented side.

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Boyata missed out was not front page news.

Few in his own country had ever seen one of their own kick a ball in anger for Manchester City, he played 34 games for the club over four years, nor with Celtic. Only those were keen enough to watch the Under-21 national team would have seen him in the flesh.

And now? Well, now things have changed somewhat.

Boyata enjoyed his best game in Belgium’s colours on Monday in what was their last warm-up game for the World Cup in Russia. He impressed in a 4-1 win over a more than decent Costa Rica side. He only needed 65 minutes to earn a standing ovation.

Martinez’s decision to substitute the 27-year-old so early was widely read as a clear indication that the Celtic man was being kept fresh for Belgian’s opening game, which takes place on Monday night in Sochi’s Olympic Stadium when they face World Cup debutants Panama.

The newspapers yesterday produced profiles of a player whose reputation in his homeland was virtually non-existent up until recent times. They felt the need to tell the public who those guy is.

Indeed, one headline described Boyata as the "perfect" replacement for Vincent Kompany, the Belgian captain, whose injury-prone body seems to have let him down once again, meaning Boyata is going to be starter in a three-man defence which also includes Tottenham duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.

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Boyata isn’t perfect, as it so happens and the Celtic fans can testify to that, and is some way from being on a par with a fit Kompany.

However, this is someone deserving of a lot of praise for the way he has returned from the days of being an inconsistent centre-half who struggled for fitness to a double treble winner with club and now a World Cup starter with his country.

“I’m really happy with the way things have been going,” said Boyata with some under-statement. “I had the opportunity to start the other day and it went really well, we all played really well, we have this great result that allows us to go to Russia with a little more confidence.

“We played against a great team from Costa Rica who played directly, they have a lot of speed on the flanks, there was a lot of intensity at the beginning of the first half, and I personally enjoy playing between Toby and Jan.

“We have worked hard since the beginning of the preparation so that everything is developed tactically.”

Brendan Rodgers has more than played his part in turning Boyata into an international player, which does come with a flipside as he won’t be available for the start of Celtic’s Champions League campaign if Belgium, who have England in their group, do well.

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And it would be no huge surprise of Martinez’s Red Devils, as they are known back home, enjoy a long tournament.

Belgian have lost only once in their last 18 games, a friendly against Spain, and were the first European country to qualify for Russia. Boyata is playing an excellent side which includes Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne two footballers who easily fit into the category names world class.

“Failure is not trying to win,” Martinez told the Guardian. “We’re going to be adventurous and brave. We’re going to try and win every game. But the feelings you develop in the three group games are essential.

“We’ve got the talent but, clearly, a country like Germany already has the belief. When you speak with ex-players from Germany they tell you that when they pulled on the shirt they had no doubt they would win.

“That psychology is powerful in knock-out tournaments. We need to show that mentality and I believe we will because our attitude and talent is very good.”

Boyata played 39 games last season, which was his best in a Celtic jersey, and he knows how much he has to thank everyone at the club for his progress.

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“Playing in the World Cup is something which is very important to myself,” he said in an interview a few weeks ago. “I aimed to make sure the performances I put in each week were good enough for me to be picked for the squad.

“I knew if I could hit all of those targets, then I would have done everything I could to be considered for the squad.

“International football is always a plus for a player. “You always feel pride to be playing for your country. It would be a dream for me to be part of the World Cup. I’m working hard to make that happen. I have to take it step by step but it’s an objective and hopefully I can get there.”

Boyata can relax. He is there. He has made it.