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Joseph Mermans (February 16, 1922 in Merksemmarker – January 20, 1996), usually referred to as Jef Mermans (nicknamed "The Bomber") was a football striker from Belgiummarker, who played much of his career at Anderlecht, with whom he won 7 Belgian Championship titles and finished top scorer of this competition 3 times.

Mermans played 56 matches with the Belgium national football team, 2 of which in the Football World Cup 1954. He is also the 4th top scorer ever for the Belgium national team with 27 goals.

Early career

In the early 1930s, the young Mermans, along with a couple of friends, went to Antwerp FC in the hope to receive a ball and a pair of shoes, but his request was not met. Eventually, the boys tried their luck at Tubantia F.A.C. (a small club in the Antwerpmarker suburb) and managed to force themselves a way into the youth team.

Five years later, Mermans entered the first team. His progress caught attention of the federal coach and Jef was selected for a Belgium B squad match against Luxembourg in January 1939. At this point, he received twice in two years a proposal to play in the Beerschot team, but Tubantia Borgerhout refused.

A member of the Anderlecht staff arrived at Borgerhoutmarker in 1942 with a blank check that was filled in with the record sum of 125,000 Belgian francs in a quarter of an hour.

Anderlecht career

On his arrival at Anderlechtmarker, the Championship was quite erratic due to the World War II, but he helped Anderlecht in becoming a regular team. In 1947, Mermans was the key player in the conquest of the first Anderlecht title in first division as he scored 38 goals (succeeding to Bert De Cleyn as top scorer). At the peak of his career, Anderlecht received offers from A.S. Roma, Torino Calcio, Atalanta Bergamo, SS Lazio and Atlético Madrid but refused them all.

Late career

In 1957, the Bomber, as he was called for his powerful strikes, left Anderlecht for the small K. Olse Merksem club in his native town. With him, the club promoted from 3rd to 2nd division and even finished 4th in 1960 for its first season at this level. Later on, the club was renamed Olse Mermans to celebrate the player.

Trivia

The stadium in Merksem is named after him.

References


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