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Henri 'Rik' Fran├žois Coppens (born April 29, 1930 in the popular Seefhoek neighbourhood in Antwerp, Belgium) is a former Belgianmarker football striker. His parents owned and ran a fishmonger's shop there.Coppens has arguably been the best technical football player in Belgium. The rather short striker (1.68 m / 5'6") was a great dribbler and a productive goal scorer.He played notably for Beerschot (until 1961) and the national team for which he scored 21 goals in 47 matches between 1949 and 1959. Coppens played in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerlandmarker. "Rik" finished three times top scorer of the Jupiler League (in 1952, 1953, and 1955) and he received the first Belgian Golden Shoe in 1954.

Although his skills were overapparent and the Beerschot fans almost exclusively turned up only to see him, he was often criticized for his antics and his "unprofessional" (in the pre-professional days of Belgian football) behaviour on the football pitch. Characteristically, his team Beerschot, never won a championship title nor a Belgian cup during his tenure. In 1961, Beerschot grew tired of their star player and his diminishing value on the pitch and he was transferred to the Brusselsmarker team, Crossing Molenbeek.

He ended his playing career at the end of 60s for the Antwerpmarker suburb team, Berchem Sport, as player-coach.

When his playing career was over, he became a full-time coach for Berchem Sport, Rotselaar (in 1979), and his old team Beerschot (1974-1978 and also a brief spell at the beginning of the 80s). For a few months in the 1981-82 season, he was the trainer for Club Brugge, who were, strangely enough for them, struggling in the last position of the ranking at the time. Coppens' idiosyncratic style and methods didn't seem to suit the West-Flemish team and he was sacked before the end of the season. It seemed his great training days were finished and over the following years, he was losing his motivation to be a coach.

He somehow retired prematurely from the football business, only being an occasional studio guest in Football World Cup or Euro tournament shows. Football commentator Frank Raes made a warmhearted tribute DVD ('Ik Rik'), though, which brought him back in the spotlight a bit. But all 'n all, he has always given the impression that he played for his own pleasure, holding a no-nonsense attitude towards football in general.


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