Belgium national football team

Belgium national football team

Infobox National football team
Name = Belgium
Badge = Belgium urbsfa.png|400px FIFA Trigramme = BEL
Nickname = Rode Duivels / Diables Rouges
("Red Devils")
Association = Belgian Football Association
Confederation = UEFA (Europe)
Coach = Flagicon|Belgium René Vandereycken (2006-)
Captain = Timmy Simons
Most caps = Jan Ceulemans (96)
FIFA Rank = 51
1st ranking date = August 1993
FIFA max = 16
FIFA max date = January 2003
FIFA min = 71
FIFA min date = June 2007
Elo Rank = 56
Elo max = 2
Elo max date = September 1920
Elo min = 57
Elo min date = September 2007
Top scorer = Paul Van Himst,
Bernard Voorhoof (30)
Home Stadium = King Baudouin Stadium
First game = Flagicon|Belgium Belgium 3 - 3 France Flagicon|France (Brussels, Belgium; 1 May 1904)
Largest win = Flagicon|Belgium Belgium 9 - 0 Zambia Flagicon|Zambia (Brussels, Belgium; 4 June 1994) Flagicon|Belgium Belgium 10 - 1 San Marino Flagicon|San Marino (Brussels, Belgium; 28 February 2001)
Largest loss = Flagicon|England England amateur 11 - 2 Belgium Flagicon|Belgium (London, England; 17 April 1909)
World cup apps = 11
World cup first = 1930
World cup best = Fourth place, 1986
Regional name = European Championship
Regional cup apps = 4
Regional cup first = 1972
Regional cup best = Runners-up, 1980

The Belgium national football team is the national football team of Belgium and is controlled by the Belgian Football Association.


Belgium played its first official game on May 1, 1904 in a 3-3 draw against France. Prior to this match, a Belgian selection played several matches, but the squad contained some English players, so these are not added to the caps. For example, Belgium beat Netherlands by 8-0 on April 28, 1901 with the help of some Englishmen. It was then decided that Belgium would play twice a year against Netherlands beginning from 1905, generally once in Antwerp and once in Rotterdam (later Amsterdam). At that time, the national squad was chosen by a committee of representatives of the 6 or 7 main clubs.

The team was nicknamed "The Red Devils" by journalist Pierre Walckiers after its 3:2 victory over Netherlands (Rotterdam, 1906). The nickname stems from the fact that from the beginning and up until recently, the team's primary colours were all red.

Over the next six decades, Belgium established itself as a strong second-tier team, rarely in the running for winning a major tournament but never easy to handle at home or abroad. A key strength of the team was its systematic use of the offside trap, a defensive tactic developed in the 1960s at Anderlecht under French coach Pierre Sinibaldi.

Their most successful period started when they finished second in the UEFA Euro 1980. The 1980s and early 1990s are generally considered the golden age of the national team. Under the lead of Guy Thys, who coached more than 100 official games, Belgium established a reputation of being a physical, well-organized team that was hard to play against. The team's rigorous organization was reinforced by several world-class players such as goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, right-back Eric Gerets, midfielder Jan Ceulemans, and playmaker Enzo Scifo. Performances were sometimes poor against lower-ranked teams, but nearly always inspired against top teams. Until as recently as 2002, world-class national teams did not like the prospect of playing the "Red Devils"--not even eventual champions Brazil, who were almost beaten by Belgium in the knockout phase of the 2002 World Cup. Since then, however, the team has steadily slipped down the rankings, and has not been able to extend its past reputation.

After failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1978, the contract of national coach Aimé Anthuenis was not renewed beyond 2005, and it was decided on December 22, 2005 that René Vandereycken would replace Anthuenis on January 1, 2006. On August 16 of that year, they started their new campaign against Kazakhstan and although the team had made the confidence of the home public grow through some promising performances from new talented young players against teams as Slovakia and Turkey, they played awfully and did not manage to get past the team from Kazakhstan. The situation got worse after also losing the home game against Poland on November 15 of that year. Qualification already seemed far away. This put the Red Devils into an all-time low 71st position in the FIFA World Rankings in June, 2007.

World Cup Record

Belgium's World Cup appearance record reflects the unusual depth of footballing talent for a country of this size, in the manner of the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, or Sweden. The country qualified for six successive World Cups, between 1982 and 2002. Every other nation with an equal or longer string of appearances has had the streak "interrupted" by automatic qualification as the host or the defending champion. (The 2006 tournament was the first for which the defending champion does not automatically qualify.)

Playing inspired against other teams in the World Cup, they have reached the knockout phase five out of six times from 1982 to 2002, including a streak of four tournaments. One of their most famous victories was a 1-0 win over defending champions Argentina, in the first game of the 1982 World Cup held at Camp Nou with a great goal by Erwin Vandenbergh.

Four years later they achieved their best-ever World Cup run in 1986 when they placed fourth under command of players like Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets and Jean-Marie Pfaff. Belgium surprisingly won against favourites Soviet-Union with stars such as Igor Belanov and Rinat Dasayev (3-4) after extra time. Belgium also beat Spain with penalties, but they lost to eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal (0-2). In the third-place match Belgium lost to France (2-4) after extra time. Captain and midfielder Jan Ceulemans was the first Belgian player to be selected in the All-Star Team of a World Cup. Enzo Scifo was elected as best young player of the tournament.

Despite being knocked out in the 2nd round, the team's general performance in the 1990 was considered even better than 4 years before. Belgium dominated England, but eventually lost in the last minute of extra time after a goal by David Platt. Enzo Scifo was elected as second best player of the 1990 World Cup after Lothar Matthäus.

In the 1994 World Cup Belgium lost to title defenders Germany in round 2. This match became most memorable because of a disputed decision by referee Kurt Röthlisberger. The team was not awarded a penalty when Josip Weber was tripped inside the penalty area. Michel Preud'homme was elected as best goalkeeper of the tournament and he was selected in the All-Star Team.

In 1998 Belgium was one of only two teams, together with World Champion France not to lose a single game. Three draws in the first round - against Netherlands, Mexico and South Korea - proved not enough to reach the knock-out stage. In 1998 Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst appeared in their fourth World Cups, setting a Belgian record.

The FIFA World Cup 2002 did not start well for Belgium, but the team improved during the tournament. Captain Marc Wilmots was notable for scoring in every match of the first round. In the second round they had to play against eventual champions Brazil. Similar to 1994, the outcome of the match was strongly influenced by a disputed referee decision. To the surprise of the Brazilians themselves, referee Peter Prendergast cancelled a valid goal by Marc Wilmots that would have given Belgium a 1-0 lead. After this, the match went in favour of Brazil. Brazilian bondscoach Luiz Felipe Scolari would declare after the tournament that the match against the Red Devils had been the hardest for Brazil to win. The team did win the tournament's fair-play award. Marc Wilmots equaled the record of Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst to appear in 4 World Cups, but with the difference that he didn't played in his first World Cup. Wilmots also scored his 5th World Cup goal against Russia, which made him the Belgian topscorer in World Cups.

*1930 - Round 1
*1934 - Round 1
*1938 - Round 1
*1950 - "Withdrew"
*1954 - Round 1
*1958 - "Did not qualify"
*1962 - "Did not qualify"
*1966 - "Did not qualify"
*1970 - Round 1
*1974 - "Did not qualify"
*1978 - "Did not qualify"
*1982 - Round 2
*1986 - Fourth place
*1990 - Round 2
*1994 - Round 2
*1998 - Round 1
*2002 - Round 2
*2006 - "Did not qualify"

European Championship Record

Belgium's performance in the European Championship does not match its World Cup record. The best result is no doubt the unexpected second place at the 1980 edition in Italy after a narrow defeat (1-2) to West Germany in the final. Belgium hosted or co-hosted the event twice, finishing third in 1972 and being one of the major disappointments of the 2000 edition with a first-round exit.

*1960 - "Did not qualify"
*1964 - "Did not qualify"
*1968 - "Did not qualify"
*1972 - Third place
*1976 - "Did not qualify"
*1980 - Runners-up
*1984 - Round 1
*1988 - "Did not qualify"
*1992 - "Did not qualify"
*1996 - "Did not qualify"
*2000 - Round 1 (entered as host)
*2004 - "Did not qualify"
*2008 - "Did not qualify"

Olympics Record

Belgium won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1920, and the Bronze Medal in 1900.

Gold Medal winners 1920: -Félix Balyu -Désiré Bastin -Mathieu Bragard -Jean De Bie -Robert Coppée -André Fierens -Emile Hanse -Georges Hebdin-Henri Larnoe -Joseph Musch(c) -Armand Swartenbroeks -Fernand Nisot -Louis Van Hege -Oscar Verbeek. coach: Raoul Daufresne

*1900: Bronze medal
*1920: Gold medal
*2008: Fourth Place

Current squad

The following players were called up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification against Turkey on September 10, 2008. Caps and goals as of September 10 2008.

Recent Call-ups

nat fs g player|no=|pos=DF|name=Sepp de Roover|age=12 November 1984|caps=0|goals=0|club=FC Groningen
clubnat=NED|other=v. Italy on May 30

2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

2010 FIFA World Cup qualification - UEFA Group 5
expanded = yes
fixtures = yes
tiebreakers =


As of November 24, 2007 the 100 most capped players for Belgium are:

the * denotes a player still playing or available for selection.


Before 1910, a committee of the Belgian federation selected the players.
*1910-1913: William Maxwell
*1914: Charles Bunyan
*1920-1928: William Maxwell
*1928-1930: Victor Löwenfelt
*1930-1934: Hector Goetinck
*1935: Jules Turnauer
*1935-1940: Jack Butler
*1944-1946: François Demol
*1947-1953: Bill Gormlie
*1953-1954: Dougall Livingstone
*1955-1957: André Vandeweyer
*1957 (caretaker): Louis Nicolay
*1957-1958: Geza Toldi
*1958-1968: Constant Vanden Stock
*June 19, 1968-April 26, 1976: Raymond Goethals
*May 22, 1976-June 9, 1989: Guy Thys
*July 23, 1989-February 21, 1990: Walter Meeuws
*May 26, 1990-May 1, 1991: Guy Thys
*September 1, 1991-March 25, 1996: Paul Van Himst
*October 8, 1996-December 27, 1996: Wilfried Van Moer
*February 11, 1997-August 18, 1999: Georges Leekens
*August 20, 1999-June 30, 2002: Robert Waseige
*August 21, 2002-December 31, 2005: Aimé Anthuenis
*since January 1, 2006: René Vandereycken


See also

* Belgium national under-21 football team
* Belgium national youth football team (U-17, U-18, U-19, U20, U23 Squads)

External links

* [ website] - Belgian FA official website
* [ team statistics page/]
* [ The Red Devils Archive]
* [ RSSSF archive of results 1904-]
* [ RSSSF archive of most capped players and highest goalscorers]
* [ RSSSF archive of coaches 1904-]
*IFFHS Archive: [ 1904-1910]

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