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

History

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 Antwerpmarker and once in Rotterdammarker (later Amsterdammarker). 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 difficult 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. The Belgians nearly beat favorites Brazil in the 2002 FIFA World Cup only for several debatable referee decisions and controversially disallowed goals go against them; ironically, the Brazilians went on to win the 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. But the performances of the team did not improve and the Red Devils slipped into an all-time low 71st position in the FIFA World Rankings in June, 2007. After failing to qualify for Euro 2008 and a generally poor performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers which ended with Belgium getting knocked out, coach René Vandereycken was sacked on the 7 April 2009. After a shocking 2-1 loss against Armenia on 9 September 2009, Vercauteren resigned earlier than planned and made way for new coach Dick Advocaat.

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 and Sweden. The country qualified for six successive World Cups from 1982 through 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 did not automatically qualify.)

The Belgian team 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 Noumarker 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 on 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 second round, the team's general performance in the 1990 was considered better still than that of 1986. 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 coach 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 equalled the record of Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst by appearing in 4 World Cup squads, although he didn't play in his first World Cup in 1990. Wilmots also scored his 5th World Cup goal against Russia, which made him Belgium's top scorer in World Cup Finals matches.



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 Italymarker after a narrow defeat (1-2) to West Germanymarker in the final. Belgium hosted or co-hosted the event twice, finishing third in 1972 (when they were chosen amongst the four semi-finalists to actually host the event) and being one of the major disappointments of the 2000 edition with a first-round exit. Belgium first won against Sweden 2-1 via goals from Bart Goor in the 43rd minute and Emile Mpenza in the 46th minute against Sweden's one by Johan Mjallby in the 53rd minute after a terrible error of goalkeeper Filip De Wilde. But then, Belgium lost 2-0 against Italy (goals from Francesco Totti in the 5th minute and Stefano Fiore in the 66th minute) and 2-0 against Turkey (two goals from Hakan Sukur in the 45th after another error of goalkeeper Filip De Wilde, and 70th minute). In the 83rd minute of that last group match, Filip De Wilde even ended his Euro 2000, being sent off for attacking Arif Erdem outside the penalty area.

  • 1960 - Did not enter
  • 1964 - Did not qualify
  • 1968 - Did not qualify
  • 1972 - Third place (became host after qualifying)
  • 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


Olympic record

Belgium won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1920

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

  • 1920: Gold medal
  • 1924: Second Round (1/16 finals)
  • 1928: Quarter-finals
  • 2008: Fourth Place


Current squad

Caps and goals are correct as of 15 November 2009.

The following players are the 21-man squad who were called up for the friendly matches against Hungary and Qatar on 14 and 17 November 2009. Vincent Kompany got sent home for the match against Qatar because he was late twice, Igor De Camargo didn't play in both matches because of a toe injury and Moussa Dembélé went home because he got ill before the match against Hungary.







Recent call-ups







Youngest Players

The 10 youngest players in history

The youngest players who made their debut for the national football team of Belgium.



2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

Caps

As of 13 August 2009 the 68 most capped players for Belgium are:



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

Top Belgium goalscorers

As of February 11, 2009:

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

Coaches

Before 1910, a committee of the Belgian federation selected the players.

Captains



See also



External links



Rank
Player (Team)
Age
1
Fernand Nisot (Léopold Club)
16 year 19 days
2
Anthony Vanden Borre (RSC Anderlecht)
16 year 187 days
3
Paul Van Himst (RSC Anderlecht)
17 year 17 days
4
Jean Capelle (Standard Liège)
17 year 153 days
5
Joseph Musch (R. Union Saint-Gilloise)
17 year 198 days
6
Vincent Kompany (RSC Anderlecht)
17 year 314 days
7
Eden Hazard (Lille OSC)
17 year 316 days
8
Raymond Braine (K. Beerschot V.A.C.)
17 year 321 days
9
Bernard Voorhoof (Lierse SK)
17 year 338 days
10
Steven Defour (KRC Genk)
18 year 26 days
#
Player
Belgium career
Caps
1
Jan Ceulemans
1977-1991
96
2
Eric Gerets
1975-1991
86
=
Franky Van der Elst
1984-1998
86
4
Vincenzo Scifo
1984-1999
84
5
Paul Van Himst
1960-1974
81
6
Bart Goor
1999-2008
78
7
Georges Grün
1984-1995
77
8
Timmy Simons*
2001-
72
9
Lorenzo Staelens
1990-2000
70
=
Marc Wilmots
1990-2002
70
11
Victor Mees
1949-1960
68
12
Georges Heylens
1961-1973
67
13
Joseph Jurion
1955-1967
64
=
Jean-Marie Pfaff
1976-1987
64
15
Franky Vercauteren
1977-1988
63
=
Marc Degryse
1984-2002
63
17
Bernard Voorhoof
1928-1940
61
18
Michel Preud'homme
1979-1994
58
19
Eric Deflandre
1996-2005
57
=
Wilfried Van Moer
1966-1982
57
21
Joseph Mermans
1945-1956
56
=
Mbo Mpenza
1997-2008
56
=
Luc Nilis
1988-2000
56
=
Louis Carré
1948-1958
56
25
Michel Renquin
1976-1987
55
=
Emile Mpenza*
1997-
55
27
Raymond Braine
1925-1939
54
28
Danny Boffin
1989-2002
53
=
Armand Swartenbroeks
1913-1928
53
30
René Vandereycken
1975-1986
50
=
Gert Verheyen
1994-2002
50
32
Wilfried Puis
1962-1975
49
=
Wesley Sonck*
2001-
49
=
Daniel Van Buyten*
2001-
49
35
Pierre Hanon
1958-1969
48
=
Erwin Vandenbergh
1979-1991
48
=
Léopold Anoul
1947-1954
48
=
Yves Vanderhaeghe
1999-2005
48
39
Henri 'Rik' Coppens
1949-1959
47
40
Walter Meeuws
1977-1984
46
=
Ludo Coeck
1974-1984
46
=
Pierre Braine
1922-1930
46
43
François Van der Elst
1973-1983
44
44
Geert De Vlieger
1999-2006
43
45
Michel De Wolf
1980-1994
42
=
Nico Van Kerckhoven
1996-2002
42
=
Victor Lemberechts
1945-1955
42
48
Philippe Albert
1987-1998
41
=
Robert Paverick
1935-1946
41
50
Lei Clijsters
1983-1991
40
=
Christian Piot
1969-1977
40
52
Jean Nicolay
1959-1967
39
=
Florimond Van Halme
1921-1930
39
54
Philippe Clement
1998-2007
38
=
Paul Vandenberg
1957-1967
38
=
Alfons Van Brandt
1951-1957
38
=
Stéphane Demol
1986-1991
38
58
Marc Emmers
1988-1994
37
=
Jean De Bie
1920-1930
37
60
Johan Walem
1991-2002
36
=
Glen De Boeck
1993-2004
36
=
Nico Claesen
1983-1990
36
=
Nicolas Hoydonckx
1928-1933
36
64
Léon Semmeling
1961-1973
35
=
Jean Dockx
1967-1975
35
=
Julien Cools
1974-1980
35
=
Désiré Bastin
1920-1932
35
=
Luc Millecamps
1979-1983
35
#
Player
Belgium career
Goals (Caps)
1
Bernard Voorhoof
1928-1940
30 (61)
=
Paul van Himst
1960-1974
30 (81)
3
Marc Wilmots
1990-2002
28 (70)
4
Joseph Mermans
1945-1956
27 (56)
5
Robert de Veen
1906-1913
26 (23)
=
Raymond Braine
1925-1939
26 (54)
7
Marc Degryse
1984-1996
23 (63)
=
Jan Ceulemans
1976-1991
23 (96)
9
Wesley Sonck*
2001-
23 (48)
10
Henri 'Rik' Coppens
1949-1959
21 (47)
11
Léopold Anoul
1947-1954
20 (48)
=
Erwin Vandenbergh
1979-1991
20 (48)
13
Jean Capelle
1931-1939
19 (34)
14
Raoul Lambert
1966-1977
18 (33)
=
Vincenzo Scifo
1984-1998
18 (84)
16
Emile Mpenza*
1997-
17 (54)
17
Paul Vandenberg
1957-1967
16 (38)
18
Johan Devrindt
1964-1975
15 (23)
19
Victor Lemberechts
1945-1955
14 (42)
=
François van der Elst
1973-1983
14 (44)
21
Jacques Stockman
1958-1967
13 (32)
=
Bart Goor*
1999-
13 (78)
23
Nico Claesen
1983-1990
12 (36)
24
Henri Larnoe
1920-1925
11 (22)
25
Fernand Nisot
1911-1920
10 (14)
=
Odilon Polleunis
1968-1975
10 (22)
=
Gert Verheyen
1994-2002
10 (50)
=
Luc Nilis
1988-2000
10 (56)
29
Albert de Cleyn
1946-1948
9 (12)
=
Robert Coppée
1919-1924
9 (15)
=
Marc van der Linden
1983-1990
9 (19)
=
Ferdinand Adams
1924-1930
9 (23)
=
Louis Saeys
1907-1914
9 (24)
=
Stanley Vanden Eynde
1931-1938
9 (26)
=
Wilfried Puis
1962-1975
9 (49)
=
Wilfried van Moer
1966-1982
9 (57)
=
Franky Vercauteren
1977-1989
9 (63)
=
Joseph Jurion
1955-1967
9 (64)
39
Alphonse Six
1910-1912
8 (9)
=
Sylvian Brebart
1912-1914
8 (12)
=
Henri Isemborghs
1935-1939
8 (16)
=
Frédéric Chaves d'Aguilar
1946-1951
8 (20)
=
Maurice Gillis
1922-1928
8 (23)
=
Louis Versyp
1928-1936
8 (34)
=
Lorenzo Staelens
1989-2000
8 (70)
#
Name
Performances as captain
1.
Jan Ceulemans
51
2.
Jef Jurion
40
3.
Paul van Himst
37
=.
Armand Swartenbroeks
37
5.
Jef Mermans
30
6.
Georges Grün
24
7.
Marc Wilmots
23
8.
Eric Gerets
22
9.
Julien Cools
20
10.
Lorenzo Staelens
19
11.
Thomas Vermaelen
1
Timmy Simons
?
Franky van der Elst
?
Enzo Scifo
?
Bernard Voorhoof
?
Wilfried van Moer
?
Bart Goor
?
Joseph Musch
?
Vic Mees
?
Christian Piot
?
Eric Deflandre
?
Marc Degryse
?
Emile Mpenza
?
Mbo Mpenza
?
Pierre Braine
?
Léopold Anoul
?
...
?

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