De Bruyne began his career at Genk, where he was a regular player when they won the 2010–11 Belgian Pro League. In 2012, he joined English club Chelsea, where he was used sparingly and then loaned to Werder Bremen. He signed with Wolfsburg for £18 million in 2014, and in 2015 he was named Footballer of the Year in Germany. Later that year, he joined Manchester City for a club record £55 million.
De Bruyne made his full international debut in 2010, and has earned over 50 caps for Belgium. He was part of the Belgian squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.
De Bruyne began his career with hometown club KVV Drongen in 2003. Two years later, he joined Gent and in 2005 moved to Genk. De Bruyne continued his development in their youth set-up and was rewarded for his progress by being promoted to the first team squad in 2008.
De Bruyne made his first team debut for Genk in a 3–0 defeat at Charleroi on 9 May 2009. Having established himself in the team the following season, on 7 February 2010, De Bruyne scored his first goal for the club, which secured all three points for Genk in a 1–0 win against Standard Liège. He scored five goals and made 16 assists in 32 league matches during the 2010–11 season as Genk were crowned Belgian champions for the third time. On 29 October 2011, De Bruyne scored his first hat-trick for Genk against Club Brugge, which ended in a 5–4 win for Genk. On 28 January 2012, De Bruyne scored a brace against OH Leuven in a 5–0 win. On 18 February 2012, De Bruyne scored his first goal back at Genk following his agreed transfer to Chelsea and also assisted the other goal in a 1–2 away win against Mons. De Bruyne ended the season by wrapping up the scoring in a 3–1 victory over Gent. He finished the league campaign with eight goals from 28 appearances.
On 31 January 2012, on the winter transfer deadline day, Premier League club Chelsea and Genk announced the permanent signing of De Bruyne, with the fee rumoured to be in the region of £7 million. He signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at Stamford Bridge, but would stay at Genk for the remainder of the 2011–12 season. De Bruyne told the club website, "To come to a team like Chelsea is a dream but now I have to work hard to achieve the level that's necessary." On 18 July 2012, De Bruyne made his debut for Chelsea in a friendly match against Major League Soccer (MLS) side Seattle Sounders FC in a 4–2 win. De Bruyne also played the first half against Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium, New York.
On 2 August 2012, Chelsea announced that De Bruyne was to join Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on a season-long loan deal after having successfully completed a medical. De Bruyne scored his first goal for Bremen in a 3–2 defeat to Hannover 96 on 15 September, netting from 11 yards out after being played in by Eljero Elia. De Bruyne continued his good form, scoring in Bremen's next game, a 2–2 draw with VfB Stuttgart, on 23 September. De Bruyne got back on the score sheet on 18 November, scoring the winning goal — despite his team being down to 10 men — as Bremen came from a goal down to defeat Fortuna Düsseldorf 2–1.
De Bruyne scored his first goal in over two months on 4 May 2013, since netting a consolation goal in Bayern Munich's 6–1 hammering of Bremen, putting his side up 2–0 at home to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before a late brace from Sven Schipplock meant that the game finished 2–2. He followed this up with a goal in Bremen's next match, securing a place in the Bundesliga for the next season with a 1–1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt on 11 May.
After a successful loan spell in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen, De Bruyne was linked with a move to stay in Germany with either Borussia Dortmund or Bayer Leverkusen. Incoming manager José Mourinho, however, assured De Bruyne he was a part of Chelsea's plan for the future, and the player officially returned to Chelsea on 1 July 2013.
De Bruyne injured a knee while scoring his first goal for Chelsea, in a pre-season friendly game against a Malaysia XI, but was fit to make his competitive debut on the opening day of the 2013–14 Premier League season against Hull City, and made an assist for the first goal in a 2–0 win.
On 18 January 2014, Wolfsburg signed De Bruyne for a fee of £18 million (€22 million). On 25 January 2014, he made his debut for Wolfsburg in a 3–1 home loss against Hannover 96. On 12 April 2014, De Bruyne assisted 2 goals in their 4–1 home win against 1. FC Nürnberg. After a week he scored his first goal for Wolfsburg in 3–1 away win against Hamburger SV. He also scored in the last two matches of the Bundesliga helping his team to win against VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
De Bruyne scored his first goal of the 2014–15 season on 2 October 2014, volleying in a clearance from outside the box to salvage a 1–1 draw against Lille in the Europa League. In the third group match away to Krasnodar on 23 October, De Bruyne scored twice as Wolfsburg secured their first win in the competition with a 4–2 victory. On 30 January 2015, he scored another brace in a 4–1 home win against Bayern Munich, their first Bundesliga defeat since April 2014. On 1 March 2015, De Bruyne assisted three goals in a 5–3 win over his former club Werder Bremen.
On 12 March 2015, De Bruyne scored two goals in a 3–1 first-leg Europa League round-of-16 victory over Internazionale. On 15 March 2015, De Bruyne scored one goal and assisted another two in 3–0 victory over SC Freiburg.
De Bruyne ended the league season with 10 goals and 21 assists, the latter a new Bundesliga record, as Wolfsburg finished second in the Bundesliga and qualified for the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League. On 30 May 2015, he started and scored in the 2015 DFB-Pokal Final as die Wölfe defeated Borussia Dortmund 3–1 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
De Bruyne ended his breakout season with 16 goals and 27 assists in all competitions, and was named the 2015 Footballer of the Year in Germany
De Bruyne began the season by winning the 2015 DFL-Supercup against Bayern Munich, providing the cross for Nicklas Bendtner's 89th-minute equaliser for a 1–1 draw and then scoring in the subsequent penalty shootout. On 8 August 2015, he continued his good form by scoring his first goal of the season, and providing two assists in a 4–1 win at Stuttgarter Kickers in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.
In August, De Bruyne, in the midst of transfer speculation, insisted that he would not force Wolfsburg to sell him, but admitted that he could not ignore interest from Manchester City, saying: "If an offer does come, I will hear about it and how much it is, but I have not yet heard anything... I would not go to England just to prove that I can play there. I do not have to go to England... If I go there it’s because for me and for my family it is a good choice. That’s the key for me."
On 10 August, it was reported that Manchester City had made a second bid for De Bruyne worth £47 million. Wolfsburg sporting director, Klaus Allofs, claimed that the club would fight to keep him, saying "I think some other clubs have definitely turned Kevin’s head... Some huge figures are doing the rounds and I can understand why Kevin is leaving everything open."
On 27 August, it was reported that Manchester City had made a bid for De Bruyne worth £58 million. Klaus Allofs said that City had made an "astonishing" wage offer to De Bruyne.
On 30 August 2015, Manchester City announced the arrival of De Bruyne on a six-year contract, for a reported club-record fee of £55 million (€75 million) making him the second most expensive transfer in British football history after Ángel Di María's move to Manchester United in 2014. He made his debut for the team in the Premier League on 12 September against Crystal Palace, replacing injured Sergio Agüero in the 25th minute. On 19 September, he scored his first goal for the club against West Ham United in first half stoppage time in an eventual 2–1 loss. He went on to score in a 4–1 League Cup win against Sunderland, on 22 September and a 4–1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on 26 September. On 3 October, he scored in the team's 6–1 win against Newcastle United.
On 2 October, De Bruyne was announced as one of the players on the longlist for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d'Or award, alongside such teammates as Sergio Agüero and Yaya Touré. Just 18 days later, on 20 October he was revealed, by FIFA themselves, as one of the players on the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or.
On 21 October, De Bruyne scored an injury-time winner against Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League, to take City within one point of group leaders Juventus, with three games remaining.
On 1 December, he scored a brace in a 4–1 win over Hull City to send Manchester City through to the semi-finals of the Football League Cup.
On 27 January 2016, De Bruyne scored one in a League Cup semi-final 3–1 victory over Everton, but sustained an injury to his right knee that would keep him out of the team for two months.
On 2 April, De Bruyne made his return from injury in a 4–0 win against Bournemouth at Dean Court, scoring the team's second goal in the twelfth minute. Four days later, he scored the opening goal in a 2–2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg at the Parc des Princes.
On 12 April, De Bruyne scored the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain, advancing Manchester to the Champions League semi-finals, for the first time in the club’s history, on an aggregate score of 3–2. Writing in The Independent, Mark Ogden said, "It was a stunning goal from the Belgian, who took a touch to control the ball before curling it beyond Trapp from the edge of the penalty area."
De Bruyne's next goal came on 8 May 2016 in a 2–2 draw with Arsenal, although the result left City's Champions League qualification hopes out of their own hands.
On 10 September 2016, De Bruyne scored and assisted in the first Manchester derby of the season which City won 2–1 and was awarded the Man of the Match.
On 17 September 2016, De Bruyne was awarded the Man of the Match, in a 4–0 win over Bournemouth. De Bruyne scored the first, assisted the fourth, and provided key passes on both the second and third goals. After the international break, Manchester City drew their next game, against Everton F.C. played on 15 October 2016 with the scoreline finishing at 1–1. Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne both missed their penalties while Nolito came off the bench to equalise for City.
On 1 November De Bruyne scored from a free kick in the team's 3–1 win over FC Barcelona.
Early in De Bruyne's career it was rumoured that his mother had been born in Ealing and that he was therefore eligible to play for the England national team, but in fact his mother was born in Burundi and moved to Ealing as a child.
De Bruyne was capped by Belgium at under-18, under-19, and under-21 level. He made his debut for the Belgian senior team on 11 August 2010 in an international friendly against Finland in Turku; the game ended in a 1–0 loss for Belgium.
De Bruyne became a regular member of Belgium's team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, where he scored four goals as the Red Devils qualified for their first major tournament in 12 years.
On 13 May 2014, he was named in Belgium's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In their first game of the tournament, against Algeria in Belo Horizonte, De Bruyne assisted Marouane Fellaini's equaliser and was named man of the match by FIFA. In the round of 16, De Bruyne scored Belgium's opening goal in the third minute of extra time as they defeated the United States 2–1.
On 10 October 2014, De Bruyne scored twice in a 6–0 rout of Andorra in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying, equalling the team's record victory in a European qualifier set in 1986.
In June 2016, De Bruyne played at UEFA Euro 2016.As of 16 September 2017
As of 4 September 2017
Scores and results lists Belgium's goal tally first
Belgian Pro League: 2010–11
Belgian Cup: 2008–09
Belgian Supercup: 2011
Football League Cup: 2015–16
Bundesliga Young Player of the Year: 2012–13
Bundesliga Player of the Year: 2014–15
Bundesliga Team of the Year: 2014–15
Bundesliga top assists: 2014–15
UEFA Europa League: Squad of the season 2014–15
Footballer of the Year in Germany: 2015
Etihad Player of the Month: September 2015, October 2015, December 2015, April 2016
France Football World XI: 2015
Belgian Sportsman of the year: 2015
Etihad Player of the Year: 2015–16
Premier League top assists: 2016–17
De Bruyne speaks Dutch, French, German and English. His mother is English, but was born in Burundi and has also lived in the Ivory Coast. In a 2013 interview, De Bruyne said: "My mother has an English mentality, but I am fully Belgian." His hometown Drongen, a submunicipality of the city of Ghent, is situated in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.
In 2013 the Daily Mail alleged that Chelsea teammate Thibaut Courtois had had an affair with De Bruyne's girlfriend Caroline Lijnen. De Bruyne attacked Courtois when training with the Belgian international team, but had reconciled with Courtois after. Since 2014, De Bruyne has been in a relationship with Michèle Lacroix, who announced on 28 September 2015 that she was pregnant with the couple's baby son. Mason Milian De Bruyne was born on 10 March 2016.
In 2015 De Bruyne bought his first car, a Mercedes, having previously relied on club vehicles, in preparation for the birth of his first child. De Bruyne's autobiography, entitled Keep It Simple, was published in October 2014.Keep It Simple (2014) (autobiography, co-authored with Raoul de Groote), Amsterdam: Borgerhoff & Lamberigts, ISBN 978-9089-31-482-6