Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index
Belgium won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1920 at home. However, they did not make any mark on the international game until 1972. In the quarterfinal of Euro 1972, they beat Italy 2-1 with Paul Van Himst and Wilfried Van Moer each scoring a goal. The match was considered Belgium's greatest victory up until that point. The 1980's was great period in Belgium's football history. Jean Marie-Pfaff, Jan Ceulemans, Franky Van der Elst, Enzo Scifo and Eric Gerets were some of their stars. They finished second at Euro 1980 and qualified for every WC Finals from 1982 to 2002. They reached the semifinal at World Cup 1986. In 1982, they upset Argentina, spoiling Diego Maradona's first ever World Cup match. From 2002 to 2012, the talent seemed to run dry, but a new Golden Generation was born. Players such as Vincent Kompany, Ed Hazard and Thibaut Courtois are starring again for big clubs in Europe. In 2018, they reached the semi-final of the World Cup Finals.
|Belgium Euro 1980|
GK : Jean-Marie Pfaff
Jean-Marie Pfaff was one of the best keepers in the world during the 1980's. He spent most of his professional career with Beveren and Bayern Munich. Pfaff was capped 64 times playing for Red Devils. He participated at the World Cup Finals of 1982 and 1986, and at the European Championship of 1980 and 1984. He was the starting goalkeeper as Belgium finished second at Euro 1980 and reached the semifinal at Mexico 1986.
Michel Preud’Homme played for Standard Liège, Mechelen, and Benfica. With Mechelen, he won the Belgian Cup in 1987, the Cup Winner's Cup and the European Super Cup in 1988. He was alas a legend with Benfica, earn g the nick name "Saint Michel" there. For the national team, he had 58 caps. He went to the WC in 1994, where he was voted as the best keeper. He also was a team member at Euro 1980 and 1984.
GK: Jean De Bie
During his domestic career, Jean De Bie played mostly for Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles. At the international level, he won the gold medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics playing for Belgium national football team and, at 38 years of age, he was selected in the Belgian squad for the 1930 FIFA World Cup, although he never played a match at the tournament.
RB:: Eric Gerets
Eric Gerets is considered one of the greatest European rightbacks in history. His best club career was spent with Standard de Liège and PSV Eindhoven. He won the 1988 European Cup with PSV as their captain. He also played briefly for AC Milan and MVV Maastricht. Gerets was capped 86 times. He played a big role as the Red Devils finished second at the 1980 European Championship in Italy and reached the semi-final of the World Cup 1986 Finals.
Jan Vertonghen began his career with Ajax in 2016, where he was Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2012. In 2012, he moved to Tottenham Hotspurs. He is considered one of the best defenders in the Premiership. At the time of writing, he had ever 100 caps. He played in both 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals. He was an important part of the team that reached the semifinal in 2018.
CB/LB: Michel Renquin
Renquin began his career with the youth team of JFC Wibrin. He played for Standard Liege between 1974 and 1981. He also played for RSC Anderlecht, and Servette Geneva and FC Sion in Switzerland. He was capped 55 times at the international level. He was a member of the Golden Generation that found successes from Euro 1980 to the World Cup Finals in 1986.
CB: Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany is widely considered one of the best center-back of his generation. At the club level, He played for Anderlecht and Hamburger Sv before joining Manchester City in 2008. In 2011-2012, he became the captain of Manchester City, leading his club to win the Premier League that season, their first league title in 44 years. At time of writing, he earned over 94 caps and played at the World Cup Finals in 2014 and 2018
During his career, Walter Meeuws played for K. Beerschot V.A.C., Club Brugge K.V., R. Standard de Liège, AFC Ajax and K.V. Mechelen. He earned 46 caps for the Red Devils, and participated in the European Championship in 1980 and the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain. He played in the Final of the 1980 European Champion, where Belgium lost o West Germany.
LB: Alfons Van Brandt
Van Brandt played 38 times for Belgium between 1950 and 1957. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1954, where he earned his reputation for defending Stanley Matthews in the game against England. A year later, he played for a Continental Selection side against England, where he once again defended well against Matthews. He was Belgium's Player of the Year in 1955.
LB: Armand Swartenbroeks
Between 1913 and 1928, Armand Swartenbroeks played 53 international games, a Belgian record at the time. He was their captain for 37 matches. He was a member of the Belgium Olympic team, which won the gold medal in 1920 tournament. He also went to the Paris Olympic in 1924. For club football, Swartenbroeks made his debut in 1911 in the first team of Daring Club Brussels. He played for the team until 1930.
CM: Wilfried Van Moer
Wilfried Van Moer is considered one of the greatest players from Belgium. He played 57 times and scored 9 goals for the national team between 1966 and 1982. Van Moer was in the team for the 1970 and 1982 World Cups and for the Euro 1980 in which Belgium finished second. He also contributed to Beglium reaching the semifinal of Euro 1972. He was already 35 years old in 1980. He finished 4th at the European Player of the Year that year. For his club career, he was associated with Beveren, Royal Antwerp and Standard Liege.
|Wilfried Van Moer|
Van der Elst started his professional career at R.W.D. Molenbeek in 1978, earning his first call-up for Belgium in 1982. Two years later, he moved to Club Brugge KV and stayed there until he finished his career in 1999. Van der Elst also appeared in four FIFA World Cups from 1986 to 1998. He was Belgium Player of the Year in 1990 and 1996. Pele selected him as one of the 125 Greatest Living Players.
AM/CM: Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne began his career at Genk. After an unsuccessful spell with Chelsea, he was named Footballer of the Year in Germany while playing with Wolfsburg. In 2015, he joined Manchester City for a club record £54 million. Since 2010, he has played over 70 caps for Belgium. He helped Belgium to reach the semi-final at the 2018 World Cup Finals.
AM/CM: Enzo Scifo
Born in Belgium of Italian background, Enzo Scifo made his name with Anderlecht, helping the team to the 1984 UEFA Cup Final. He also played in both France and Italy at the club level. He was capped over 80 times between 1984 and 1998. He appeared for Belgium in the World Cups of 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998, playing sixteen games in total. He was a star at the World Cup Finals in 1986 and 1990, where he scored one of the best goals of the tournament in 1990.
From 1969 to 1980, Van der Elst played for R.S.C. Anderlecht. In 1976 he was part of the 1975–76 European Cup Winners' Cup-winning squad, netting twice in the final against West Ham United (4–2) and, in the following season's league, was crowned the competition's top scorer at 21 goals, as the Brussels side finished in second position. He also played for NY Cosmos and West Ham. He was capped 44 times and went to Euro 1980.
AM/FW: Eden Hazard
At the time of writing, Eden Hazard has already earned 100 caps and led Belgium to the semi-final of the World Cup in 2018. He played for Lille in France for 8 years. He signed with Chelsea in June 2012, where he won two Europa League in 2012 and 2019. He won both FWA and PFA Player of the Year for the 2014-2015 season in England. In 2019, he joined Real Madrid.AM/RW/CM: Joseph Jurion
Jurion was an all-time great with Anderlecht, where he won 8 championship titles and one Cup and was awarded 2 Golden Shoe. In 1962, he led his club team to eliminate Real Madrid at the European Cup. He was capped 64 times. He began his international career in 1955 against France. During his 64 appearances, he played at 7 different positions and scored 9 times.
AM/FW: Jan Ceulemans
Jan Ceulemans is considered one of Belgium's greatest players. He was capped 96 times as Belgium's joint cap leader. He was instrumental as Beglium reached the Final of European Championship in 1980 and the semi-final at the 1986 World Cup Finals. He also went to the 1982 and 1990 World Cup Finals and Euro 1984. He started his career with Lierse S.K., but spent 13 years with Brugge, turning down AC Milan to stay with them.
Vercauteren made his debut for Anderlecht in 1975. He won the five European titles with Anderlecht (two European Cup Winners' Cups, one UEFA Cup and two European Supercups). In 1987, he joined Nantes in France and came back to Belgium three years later to play with Molenbeek. He played 63 times with Belgium. He was part of the squad that finished fourth at the 1986 World Cup, and also featured in the 1982 World Cup and at Euro 1984.
FW/SS: Paul Van Himst
Paul Van Himst is often viewed as the greatest Belgian player of all-time. He played mainly for Anderlecht. He won the Belgian championship 8 times, all of them with Anderlecht. He won the Golden Shoe (the Belgian Player of the Year award), a record 4 times. For the Red Devils, he was capped 80 times between 1960 and 1974. He put Belgium's football on the map by leading them to 3rd place at the European Championship in 1972. He also went to the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico.
|Paul Van Himst|
Marc Wilmots went to 4 World Cup Finals(1990, 1994, 1998, 2002), scoring 5 goals for Belgium. With five goals, he is Belgium's all-time top scorer at the World Cup. He won the 1996 UEFA Cup with Schalke 04. He also played for Sint-Truiden, Mechelen and Standard Liège. During his time with Schalke, the fans there gave him the affectionate nickname "Das Kampfschwein" (The War Pig).
ST: Henri Coppens
Henri Coppens was the star of Belgian football after the War. He spent most of his career with Beerschot VAC. He was top scorer of the First Division in 1952, 1953 and 1955 and won the first ever Belgian Golden Shoe in 1954. Coppens played 47 times between 1949 and 1959 for Belgium, and scored 21 goals( ten of them alone in six games against the Netherlands). He participated in the 1954 World Cup Finals.
ST: Raymond Braine
Raymond Braine started with Beerschot V.A.C. at home, He became the first ever professional player from Belgium when he joined Sparta Prague in 1930. He was the top scorer in the Czech legue for 1932 and 1934. He was asked to play for Czechoslovakia in the 1934 WC Finals, but he refused and Czecholovakia finished second. He would play for Belgium at the 1938 WC Finals.
Luc Nilis, Michel Renquin, Lorenzo Staelens, Timmy Simons, René Vandereycken, Thibaut Courtois, Daniel Van Buyten, Erwin Vandenbergh, Bernard Voorhoof, Romelu Lukaku, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Philippe Albert, Joseph Mermans, Gilbert Van Binst.
-- Paul Van Himst is widely considered to be Belgian greatest players. Ed Hazard, Jan Cuelemans. Jean-Marie Pfaff , Michel Preud’Homme, Wilfried Van Moer, Eric Gerets, Vincent Kompany and Enzo Scifo are all automatic selection. No explanation is needed.
-- Jean-Marie Pfaff is number one over Michel Preud’Homme because he had done better at the World Cup and European Championship. He was probably the best Belgian player in 1986 in which Belgium had its best finish in a World Cup before 2018.
Thibaut Courtois migt be able to take the third spot.
-- Vincent Kompany at his prime is one of the most dominant centerback in the world.
-- Eric Gerets is probably one of the greatest European fullbacks of all-time. He would be more highly rated if he is German or Italian.
-- Alfons Van Brandt earned the reputation of being one of the best in Europe after playing well against Stanley Matthews twice.
-- Coppens played in an era when Belgium was weak.
-- Belgium to reach the semifinal of Euro 1972. The tournament put Belgian football on the map. Paul Van Himst, Gilbert Van Binst and Wilfried Van Moer played on that team, but Van Moer missed the Finals. Van Himst is often considered the great Belgian footballer.
-- The 1980's generation helped Belgium to finish second at Euro 1980 and 3rd at the 1986 WC Finals. Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Michel Preud’Homme, Franky Vercauteren, François Van der Elst, Enzo Scifo, Franky Van Der Elst, Michel Renquin and Walter Meeuws all played in the 1980's.
-- Wilfried Van Moer was a connection of 1970's and 1980's generation. He was a key player as Belgium reached the semifinal of Euro 1972, but he did not play in the Finals because he broke his leg. He also played in Euro 1980 and the WC Finals in 1982.
-- After the 2018 World Cup Finals, I made several changes. The players were rewarded for their historical achievements. Kevin De Bruyne replaced rightback Gilbert Van Binst while Jan Vertonghen replaced Philippe Albert. Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Vermaelen were added to honourable mention. Before the World Cup Finals, Thibaut Courtois, and Romelu Lukaku were on honorable mention. Lukaku is already the all-time leading scorer for Belgium. However, the players ahead of him were too good to be dropped.
-- Eden Hazard was a member of the team even before the WC Finals in 2018. In 2014-2015, he was one of the best players in Europe. His career has regressed since 2015, but he still remained a top player in the world. He helped Belgium to the semifinal of the WC Finals in 2018.
-- Joseph Mermans, Luc Nilis and Romelu Lukaku are the biggest names not selected for the team. Lukaku is the all-time leading scorer for Belgium, but the players ahead of them all deserved to be on the team.
-- Raymond Braine was Belgium's first ever professional player. He has a historical role. Henri Coppens was a star after the War. Marc Wilmots, Paul Van Himst and Jan Cuelemans are all ahead of Lukaku.
-- Joseph "Jef" Mermans normally ranks ahead of Marc Wilmots.