Belgium national football team
|Association||Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB/URBSFA)|
|Head coach||Marc Wilmots|
|Asst coach||Vital Borkelmans|
|Most caps||Jan Ceulemans (96)|
|Top scorer||Bernard Voorhoof (30)
Paul Van Himst (30)
|Home stadium||King Baudouin Stadium|
|FIFA ranking||12 2|
|Highest FIFA ranking||5 (October 2013)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||71 (June 2007)|
|Elo ranking||18 0|
|Highest Elo ranking||2 (September 1920)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||74 (September 2009)|
| Belgium 3–3 France
(Brussels, Belgium; 1 May 1904)
| Belgium 9–0 Zambia
(Brussels, Belgium; 4 June 1994)
Belgium 10–1 San Marino
(Brussels, Belgium; 28 February 2001)
| England Amateurs 11–2 Belgium
(London, England; 17 April 1909)[note 1]
|Appearances||12 (First in 1930)|
|Best result||Fourth place, 1986|
|Appearances||4 (First in 1972)|
|Best result||Runners-Up, 1980|
The Belgium national football team (Dutch: Het Belgisch voetbalelftal; French: L'équipe de Belgique de football; German: Die Belgische Fußballnationalmannschaft) has represented Belgium in association football since 1904.
It is controlled by the Royal Belgian Football Association, the governing body for football in Belgium and the oldest football association in continental Europe (founded in 1895). Belgium's home stadium is the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels and Marc Wilmots is their national manager. He started as an assistant, but took over in May 2012 when Georges Leekens took the managerial position in Club Brugge. They are nicknamed the Red Devils (Dutch: Rode Duivels [ˈroːdə ˈdœy̯vəɫs]; French: Diables Rouges; German: Rote Teufel).
The best achievements from Belgium in international tournaments so far were the qualification for six successive FIFA World Cups between 1982 and 2002 including a fourth place finish in 1986, the title of European runners-up in 1980 and the 1920 Olympic Football Gold Medal on home ground. Other notable prestations are their four victories over reigning world champions: 2–0 against West Germany in 1954, 5–1 against Brazil in 1963, 1–0 against Argentina in 1982 and 2–1 against France in 2002.
- 1 History
- 2 Home stadium
- 3 Media coverage
- 4 Colours
- 5 2014 FIFA World Cup
- 6 2016 European Championship
- 7 Staff
- 8 Squad
- 9 Competitive record
- 10 Honours
- 11 Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
- 12 Supporters and popularity
- 13 Charity support
- 14 Actions and public relations
- 15 Rivalries
- 16 In books and popular culture
- 17 Managers
- 18 All-time team and individual records
- 19 Captains
- 20 See also
- 21 Footnotes
- 22 References
- 23 External links
The early generations (1901-1979)
Belgium played their first official game on May 1, 1904, against France; the incident-packed game ended in a 3–3 draw. This legendary first match for both teams at the Stade Vivier d'Oie ("Goose Pond Stadium") in Uccle, Belgium was attended by 1,500 spectators, and the Évence Coppée Trophy that would be handed out to the winner was logically not awarded. Twenty days later, Belgium and France were among the seven FIFA founding fathers. Prior to the 3–3 draw against France, 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.
Only two years after its formal birth, the team was nicknamed The Red Devils by journalist Pierre Walckiers after the achievement of three consecutive impressive victories in 1906: a 5–0 win versus France and 5–0 and 3–2 wins against the Netherlands. The nickname stems from the fact that from the beginning and up until recently, the team's primary colours were all red.
In 1920, the Red Devils obtained the gold medal at the Olympics in home country, after a controversial final in which their opponents Czechoslovakia left the pitch. While their results booked in the three Summer Olympics editions in the 1920s were still meritorious, during the three FIFA World Cup participations in the 1930s all matches ended in a defeat. Over the next four 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.
Golden Generation (1980-2002)
Belgium's 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.
At that time (1982–2002), Belgium qualified for every FIFA World Cup, and in most World Cups they also made it to the second round. After Guy Thys, also managers Paul Van Himst and Robert Waseige guided a national selection past the first round. Apart from FIFA recognitions for individual players, the team as a collective reached the semifinals in 1986, where they were stopped by eventual world champions Argentina. While the World Cups of 1990 and 1994 were reached directly, Belgium had to go through play-off rounds again to qualify for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
The team's rigorous organization was reinforced by several world-class players such as goalkeepers Jean-Marie Pfaff and Michel Preud'homme, right-back Eric Gerets, midfielder Jan Ceulemans, playmaker Enzo Scifo and striker Luc Nilis. After the 2002 World Cup, several valuable players in their thirties retired from international football, such as Marc Wilmots and Gert Verheyen. Also coach Waseige left, creating place for Aimé Anthuenis.
Setbacks and new hope (2003-2011)
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. The performances of the team did not improve and Belgium slipped to 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 7 April 2009. His assistant Franky Vercauteren would take over ad interim.
In the meantime, a promising new generation appeared to arise as Belgium's U-21 selection qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in 2007, and the (by then U-23) Young Red Devils squad placed fourth at Beijing 2008. These young players, many of which would grow into the senior national team, were characterized by mostly defensive skills and also a strong midfield. Yet, their appearance in the senior team did not result in immediate success. After a 2–1 loss against Armenia on 9 September 2009, interim-coach Franky Vercauteren resigned and made way for new coach Dick Advocaat. However, on 15 April 2010, after only six months at the helm, Advocaat resigned as manager of Belgium amid speculation that he was to become coach of Russia. Georges Leekens was announced as the next manager of Belgium on 11 May 2010, signing a contract until 2012. Under Leekens, who was having his second stint as national manager (having previously managed the Red Devils from 1997 to 1999) the Red Devils nearly missed the Euro 2012 play-offs.
New Golden Generation (2012-present)
Leekens left in May 2012 and signed for Club Brugge, stating his work was 90% completed. Assistant manager Marc Wilmots was asked to replace Leekens and under his reign, the team improved, rising to an all-time high of fifth on the FIFA World Rankings in October 2013. Nowadays, several foreign media regard this Belgian national side during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as a new golden generation. On 11 October 2013, Belgium qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Wilmots is credited with "not only giving the young group confidence in themselves as well as enjoying a close relationship with his players but also at the same time being capable of instilling discipline to the squad." Belgium have been very strong contenders with a new golden generation of players such as attackers Mirallas, Benteke, Lukaku, as well as midfielders Fellaini, Dembele, De Bruyne and Hazard. Also the strong defence has been well noticed with players such as Kompany, Vermaelen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and goalkeeper Courtois. On 15 April 2014, Wilmots prolonged his managerial contract until 2018 (including the World Cup in Russia).
Belgium play most of their home matches in the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, offering place to 50,024 spectators. The King Baudouin Stadium is a multifunctional stadium in which also athletic events and concerts are organised. Being inaugurated as Centenary Stadium in 1930 and renamed Heysel Stadium in 1946, it underwent a drastical transformation in 1995. From then on, the stadium was named after the late King Baudouin I. At this place, between 1958 and 1996 four European Cup finals and four UEFA Cup Winners Cup finals were played, and several matches from the UEFA European Championships from 1972 and 2000 were scheduled. During the 1985 European Cup final in the disrepaired Heysel Stadium riots led to the tragic Heysel Stadium disaster, which cost the life of 39 spectators when Liverpool fans charged neutral area. In May 2013, it was announced that the current stadium would be demolished to create place for housing and that a new stadium would arise nearby at the Heysel. On 12 September 2013 the Belgian FA officially proclaimed Brussels as candidate host city for the 2020 European Championship, with this upcoming new stadium as venue. In December 2013 the involved parties agreed that this new stadium would no longer contain an athletic track as is currently the case.
The first live coverage of a football match of Belgium's national team was given in 1931. Gust De Muynck commented Belgium-Netherlands at the radio; this was also the first Belgian sport event on air. Decades later, television would become the more popular medium to follow the matches. As roughly 60% of the Belgians are Dutch-speakers (mostly Flemings), and about 40% are French-speakers (mostly Walloons), the matches of the Belgian national football team are broadcast both in Dutch and in French. Up to 1994 the matches have purely been a public broadcasting issue (on the former BRTN in Dutch and on the RTBF in French) but from 1994 on from time to time also commercial channels have been purchasing the emission rights (such as vtm with sister channel Kanaal 2 in Flanders). During the qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup, in Flanders the home qualifiers were broadcast by the public broadcast VRT and the away qualifiers by the commercial broadcasting company VIER, whereas the friendly against the United States was emitted by vtm. The 2014 World Cup itself as well as the qualifiers for the 2016 European and the 2018 World Championships will exclusively be broadcast by the public companies VRT and RTBF.
Traditionally the squad of Belgium plays at home entirely in colours of the Belgian tricolore, with predominantly red (at minimum the home jerseys have always been red). This explains the very commonly used nickname Red Devils. The away kits have usually been mostly white or mainly black, often finished with tricolores at the margins of the jerseys, shorts and/or socks. In the respective away outfits the players have sometimes been called White Devils or Black Devils, but nowadays Black Devils is the nickname of the Belgium national rugby union team. From the 1980s on, the lion crest was changed to the tricolore association badge and occasionally additional patterns were introduced. Three months before the 2014 World Cup, national monument Manneken Pis was given a kid's version of the new World Cup uniform.
|Home kits||Away kits|
Kits at major tournaments
- Home kits
- Away kits
|WC 1982||WC 1986|
|vs. Argentina||vs. Mexico|
2014 FIFA World Cup
In the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, Belgium was one of the six teams in UEFA Group A. The group winner would qualify directly for the World Cup. If the runner-up were among the eight best UEFA runners-up (out of nine) this team would advance to the two-legged UEFA play-offs.
In July 2011, Belgium was drawn against the Balkan teams Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia and the British teams Scotland and Wales. In the away opener versus Wales in September 2012, Belgium achieved an encouraging 0–2 victory, with both goals from set pieces. Four days later, they tied at home against group favourites Croatia (1–1). In their next four matchdays, Croatia and Belgium kept pace with each other, winning their four games. On their seventh matchday, Belgium took the group lead as they won at home from Serbia by 2–1 while Croatia suffered a surprising home defeat against the already eliminated team of Scotland (0–1). In that home match against Serbia, captain Vincent Kompany played 60 minutes with a broken nose, mild concussion and fractured eye socket after an unfortunate hit by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković. On the eighth matchday, Belgium came two more points ahead as they won in Scotland (0–2) while the Croats were held at a tie in Serbia (1–1). On 11 October, Belgium secured qualification with a 2–1 win over Croatia, which means they will appear at the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2002. The last home game against Wales, a match with nothing at stake for either team, ended in a 1–1 draw. Over the ten qualifiers, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept six clean sheets and winger Kevin De Bruyne was the national team's top scorer with four goals.
Updated on 27 October 2013.
The first two ranked teams at the end of the group phase advance to the second round.
Updated on 6 December 2013.
For the Euro 2016 qualifiers, Belgium were drawn in Group B against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra. After the qualification round, all first and second placed teams and the best third team advance to the end stage directly. The remaining tournament tickets are divided between the other third placed teams through play-offs.
|Assistant manager||Vital Borkelmans|
|Goalkeeping coach||Erwin Lemmens|
|Fitness coach||Mario Innaurato|
|Analyst||Herman De Landtsheer|
|Masseur|| Dirk Nachtergaele
|Physiotherapist|| Lieven Maesschalck
|Team doctor||Dr. Kris Van Crombrugge|
|Other backroom staff|| Nicolas Cornu
The following players are the squad who were named for the friendly match against Ivory Coast on 5 March 2014. Caps, goals and player numbers are correct as of 5 March 2014 after Belgium-Ivory Coast.
The following players have been called up for the team in the last twelve months.
- INJ Withdrew because of injury
- WD Withdrew for personal reasons
Belgium reached six successive World Cups from 1982 through 2002 by playing qualification rounds, a record bettered only by Spain whose 2010 World Cup was their seventh consecutive qualification (a streak going back to 1986). 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 FIFA World Cup held at Camp Nou with a goal by Erwin Vandenbergh. After pushing through to the second group stage of that tournament, Belgium was stunned by a Polish hat-trick from Zbigniew Boniek. The decisive match against the Soviet Union ended in a 0–1 loss.
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. Different from the previous World Cup, the Red Devils were able to surmount an opponents' hat-trick (this time from Belanov), something that only Brazil and Austria achieved as well in World Cup history (respectively in 1938 and 1954). Belgium also beat Spain on penalties, but they conceded a 0–2 loss against eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal - both goals scored by football icon Diego Maradona. In the third-place match Belgium lost to France (2–4) after extra time. Captain and midfielder Jan Ceulemans and goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff were the first Belgian players to be selected in the All-Star Team of a World Cup. Enzo Scifo was elected as best young player of the tournament.
In the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Belgium survived the group phase by wins against South Korea and Uruguay (2–0 and 3–1). In the second round they did well against England, dominating the match by periods and with Enzo Scifo even hitting the woodwork twice. With a persisting 0–0 penalties seemed unavoidable, but eventually they 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 FIFA World Cup two 1–0 wins in round 1 against Morocco and the Netherlands were remarkably not enough to finish second, but Belgium advanced as they were among the best four third-placed teams. In the second round they lost to title defenders Germany (3–2). 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 hosts and eventual world champions 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 knockout stage. In 1998 Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst appeared in their fourth World Cups, setting a Belgian record.
With two ties, the 2002 FIFA World Cup 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. Belgium won the decisive group match against Russia with 3–2 and in the second round they had to play against eventual champions Brazil. To the surprise of the Brazilians themselves, referee Peter Prendergast disallowed a goal by Marc Wilmots that would have given Belgium a 1–0 lead. Eventually Brazil won 2–0, but Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted after this match that Belgium was a tough edge and after the tournament he declared 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. With the World Cup final still to go, Belgium became the second country in eight editions to win this trophy without ever having been World Cup champions (after Peru in 1970). Marc Wilmots equalled the record of Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst by appearing in 4 World Cup squads, although he did not 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.
Champions Runners-up Third place Fourth place
|FIFA World Cup Record||FIFA World Cup Qualification Record|
|1930||Round 1||11th||2||0||0||2||0||4||Qualified as invitees|
|1958||Did Not Qualify||4||2||1||1||16||11|
|1974||Did Not Qualify||6||4||2||0||12||0|
|1990||Round of 16||11th||4||2||0||2||6||4||8||4||4||0||15||5|
|1994||Round of 16||11th||4||2||0||2||4||4||10||7||1||2||16||5|
|/ 2002||Round of 16||14th||4||1||2||1||6||7||10||7||2||1||27||6|
|2006||Did Not Qualify||10||3||3||4||16||11|
|2018||To Be Determined|
|Total||Best: Fourth Place||12/20||36||10||9||17||46||63||123||68||24||31||234||135|
- *Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
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 finishing first in the group phase, before football nations Italy, England and Spain, Belgium stood in the final against West Germany. After the German opener from Horst Hrubesch and the penalty equalizer from René Vandereycken, the match seemed to go in extra time. Two minutes before the end of the regular playing time, Hrubesch's second goal ended the Belgian dream of winning a first major (non-Olympic) tournament.
Belgium hosted or co-hosted the event twice, finishing third in 1972 (when they were chosen amongst the four semi-finalists to host the event) and being one of the major disappointments of the 2000 edition with a first-round exit. This early exit was fairly unexpected since during the eight preparational friendlies for Euro 2000 under Robert Waseige Belgium played well, winning three times convincingly and losing only once (2–1 against England). At Euro 2000, Belgium first won against Sweden with 2–1 via goals from Bart Goor in the 43rd minute and Émile 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. In the second match, Belgium lost 2–0 against the eventual tournament's runners-up Italy by a header from Francesco Totti in the 5th minute and Stefano Fiore's Goal of the Tournament (according to Britain's Match of the Day) in the 66th minute. In the crucial match where Belgium needed one more point to move ahead to the quarter-finals, they lost 2–0 against Turkey (two goals from Hakan Şükür in the 45th after another error of goalkeeper Filip De Wilde, and 70th minute). In the 83rd minute of that last group match, De Wilde even ended his Euro 2000, being sent off for attacking Arif Erdem outside the penalty area.
Champions Runners-up Third place Fourth place
|UEFA European Championship Record||UEFA European Championship Qualification Record|
|1960||Did Not Enter||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1964||Did Not Qualify||2||0||0||2||2||4|
|1976||Did Not Qualify||8||3||2||3||7||10|
|1988||Did Not Qualify||8||3||3||2||16||8|
|/ 2000||Group Stage||12th||3||1||0||2||2||5||Qualified as hosts[note 2]|
|2004||Did Not Qualify||8||5||1||2||11||9|
|2016||To Be Determined|
- *Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
- **Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.
- ***Potentially a part is held on home soil.
The Belgium national football team participated in all three editions of the Summer Olympics in the 1920s and won the Olympic Gold Medal on home soil in 1920. Belgium won their first two games (3–1 versus Spain and 3–0 against the Netherlands) and took a 2–0 lead in the final against Czechoslovakia. After the expulsion of the Czechoslovak left-back Karel Steiner, the discontented visiting players left the pitch. Afterwards, the Czechoslovak team reported their reasons for protest to the Olympic organisation. These protests were dismissed and the Czechoslovaks got disqualified.
Remark: only in six Summer Olympics editions between 1908 and 1936, Olympic football tournaments for proper men's national football teams had place (without age limitations). In the table below, however, all results from Belgian football squads at the Summer Olympic Games are enlisted. Olympic Summer Games editions where no actual national football teams competed are indicated in italics.
Gold Silver Bronze Fourth place
|Summer Olympics Record|
|Athens 1896||No football competition took place|
|Paris 1900||Third Place**||1||0||0||1||2||6|
|St. Louis 1904||As in 1900 played between clubs|
|London 1908||Did Not Qualify|
|Paris 1924||Round 2||1||0||0||1||1||8|
|Los Angeles 1932||No football competition took place|
|Berlin 1936||Did Not Qualify|
| London 1948
|From the 1948 till 1988 Olympic Games, amateur selections played|
|Barcelona 1992||Did Not Qualify***|
|Beijing 2008||Fourth Place***||6||3||0||3||7||10|
|London 2012||Did Not Qualify***|
|Rio de Janeiro 2016||To Be Determined***|
|Total||5/25, 1 title||14||7||0||7||27||37|
- *Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
- **In 1900, Belgium was represented by the university football team of Université de Bruxelles.
- ***Football at the Summer Olympics has been an under-23 tournament since 1992.
- ****Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.
Belgium vs. Netherlands Cups
From their first matches onwards, Belgium and the Netherlands played in their friendly matches for cups. In the duels in Belgium the teams played for the Coupe Van den Abeele (nicknamed Het Koperen Dingetje, meaning "The Copper Thingie") until 1932, and in the friendlies in the Netherlands they played for the Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad Beker until 1923, for a total of 33 Belgian-Dutch friendly cup matches. Between 1915 and 1920 the countries did not meet in international friendlies.
|Belgium-Netherlands Cup Record|
|1905–1932 Coupe Van den Abeele||8 times||21||8||4||9||40||43|
|1905–1923 Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad Beker||4 times||12||4||1||7||20||36|
- *Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.
Winners Runners-up Third place
|Other Minor Tournaments Record|
|1904 Évence Coppée Trophy||Co-Winners, Single Game||1st||1||0||1||0||3||3|
|1998 King Hassan II Tournament||Group Stage||4th||2||0||1||1||0||1|
|1999 Cyprus Tournament||Runners-Up, Group Stage||2nd||2||1||0||1||1||1|
|1999 Kirin Cup||Co-Winners, Group Stage||1st||2||0||2||0||1||1|
|2009 Kirin Cup||Runners-Up (shared), Group Stage||2nd||2||0||1||1||1||5|
- *Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
- **Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.
- Olympic football tournament
- Gold Medal (1): 1920
- Third place (1): 1900 (no medals were awarded yet) (represented by team of Université de Bruxelles)
- Fourth place (1): 2008 (in fact a U-23 tournament)
- Coupe Van den Abeele (yearly Belgium-Netherlands friendly cup between 1905 and 1932)
- Winners (8): 1906, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931
- Co-Winners (4): 1913, 1921, 1924, 1926
- Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad Beker (yearly Netherlands-Belgium friendly cup between 1905 and 1923)
- Winners (4): 1906, 1907, 1913, 1922
- Co-Winners (1): 1923
- Runners-up (1): 1999
- Winners (1): 2002
Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
All matches scheduled since the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are enlisted here:
Win Draw Loss
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 7 September 2012||Wales||0–2||Belgium||Cardiff, Wales|
|20:45 UTC+2||Report||Kompany 42'
|Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Stefan Johannesson (Sweden)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 11 September 2012||Belgium||1–1||Croatia||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+2||Gillet 45+1'||Report||Perišić 6'||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 12 October 2012||Serbia||0–3||Belgium||Belgrade, Serbia|
|20:30 UTC+2||Report||Benteke 34'
De Bruyne 68'
|Stadium: Stadion Crvena Zvezda
Referee: Pavel Královec (Czech Republic)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 16 October 2012||Belgium||2–0||Scotland||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+2||Benteke 68'
|Report||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Tom Harald Hagen (Norway)
|Friendly 14 November 2012||Romania||2–1||Belgium||Bucharest, Romania|
|20:00 UTC+1||Maxim 32'
|Report||Benteke 23'||Stadium: Arena Națională
Referee: Mauro Bergonzi (Italy)
|Friendly 6 February 2013||Belgium||2–1||Slovakia||Bruges, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+1||E. Hazard 10'
|Report||Lásik 87'||Stadium: Jan Breydel Stadium
Referee: Alon Yefet (Israel)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 22 March 2013||Macedonia||0–2||Belgium||Skopje, Macedonia|
|20:45 UTC+1||Report||De Bruyne 26'
E. Hazard 62' (pen.)
|Stadium: Philip II Arena
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 26 March 2013||Belgium||1–0||Macedonia||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+1||E. Hazard 62'||Report||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Olegário Benquerença (Portugal)
|Friendly 29 May 2013||United States||2–4||Belgium||Cleveland, United States|
|2:00 UTC+2||Cameron 22'
Dempsey 80' (pen.)
Benteke 56', 71'
|Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium
Referee: Jeffrey Solis Calderon (Costa Rica)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 7 June 2013||Belgium||2–1||Serbia||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+2||De Bruyne 13'
|Report||Kolarov 87'||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Stéphane Lannoy (France)
|Friendly 14 August 2013||Belgium||0–0||France||Brussels, Belgium|
|21:00 UTC+2||Report||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 6 September 2013||Scotland||0–2||Belgium||Glasgow, Scotland|
|21:00 UTC+2||Report||Defour 38'
|Stadium: Hampden Park
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 11 October 2013||Croatia||1–2||Belgium||Zagreb, Croatia|
|18:00 UTC+2||Kranjčar 83'||Report||Lukaku 15', 38'||Stadium: Maksimir Stadium
Referee: Howard Webb (England)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 15 October 2013||Belgium||1–1||Wales||Brussels, Belgium|
|21:00 UTC+2||De Bruyne 64'||Report||Ramsey 88'||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Sergey Karasev (Russia)
|Friendly 14 November 2013||Belgium||0–2||Colombia||Brussels, Belgium|
|21:00 UTC+1||Report||Falcao 51'
|Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)
|Friendly 19 November 2013||Belgium||2–3||Japan||Brussels, Belgium|
|Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Fırat Aydınus (Turkey)
|Friendly 5 March 2014||Belgium||2–2||Ivory Coast||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45 UTC+1||Fellaini 17'
|Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
|Friendly 26 May 2014||Belgium||v.||Luxembourg||Genk, Belgium|
|TBD||Stadium: Cristal Arena
|Friendly 1 June 2014||Sweden||v.||Belgium||Stockholm, Sweden|
|TBD||Stadium: Friends Arena
|Friendly 7 June 2014||Belgium||v.||Tunisia||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
|2014 FIFA World Cup R1 17 June 2014||Belgium||v.||Algeria||Belo Horizonte, Brazil|
|Stadium: Estádio Mineirão
|2014 FIFA World Cup R1 22 June 2014||Belgium||v.||Russia||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Stadium: Estádio do Maracanã
|2014 FIFA World Cup R1 26 June 2014||South Korea||v.||Belgium||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Stadium: Arena de São Paulo
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 9 September 2014||Israel||v.||Belgium||Ramat Gan, Israel|
|20:45||Stadium: Ramat Gan Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 10 October 2014||Belgium||v.||Andorra||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 13 October 2014||Bosnia and Herzegovina||v.||Belgium|
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 16 November 2014||Belgium||v.||Wales||Brussels, Belgium|
|18:00||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 28 March 2015||Belgium||v.||Cyprus||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 12 June 2015||Wales||v.||Belgium|
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 3 September 2015||Belgium||v.||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 6 September 2015||Cyprus||v.||Belgium||Nicosia, Cyprus|
|20:45||Stadium: GSP Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 10 October 2015||Andorra||v.||Belgium||Andorra la Vella, Andorra|
|20:45||Stadium: Estadi Comunal
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q 13 October 2015||Belgium||v.||Israel||Brussels, Belgium|
|20:45||Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Supporters and popularity
Without any doubt, the most beautiful moment for the Red Devils and their fans was in the summer of 1986, when a joyous entrance had place for the Belgian delegation that became fourth at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The Grand Place of Brussels was captured by a human mass that cheered to their World Cup semifinalists appearing on the Town Hall balcony, as if just a major tournament was won. Contrary to the Scottish "Tartan Army" and the Danish "Roligans" the supporters of the Red Devils have not earned themselves a nickname yet. But, recently in 2012 the supporters joined their forces by joining the local fan clubs into one large Belgian supporters' federation, named 1895 (after the year of foundation of the Royal Belgian Football Association). Shortly after the first anniversary of 1895, over 24,000 members had joined the federation. Just like the national team the Belgian supporters manifest themselves with the Belgian tricolore, usually with emphasis on red.
After the six uninterrupted qualifications for the World Cup between 1982 and 2002, abruptly the end stages of the following two World Cups were not reached, neither those of the European Championships preceding and following these World Cups. Despite the efforts, between 2004 and 2010 several journalists and even player Steven Defour described the Belgian footballing nation as being "(deadly) sick". This severely strained the popularity of the national squad. Some fans kept supporting their team in good and bad days, and the most faithful and notorious one is probably Ludo Rollenberg. This man assisted the matches of the Red Devils in the entire world since 1990, only having missed Belgium at the Japanese Kirin Cup in 1999 and two other matches by 2006. In 2009, he even made the displacement to Armenia as only supporter. In 2008, hope surged when a young (U-23) Belgian generation acquired fourth place at the Olympics in Beijing. Several of these players would later appear in the Belgium national football team. Even though the World Cup of 2010 and in extremis the Euro 2012 qualification play-offs were not reached, the popularity and belief in an upcoming major tournament kept rising.
During the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil the bound with the supporters was further strengthened by means of great actions, the so-called "Devil Challenges". These implied that small groups of internationals would do a favour in return for each of the five comprehensive tasks that their supporters succeeded in executing ("colour Belgium red", "gather 500,000 decibels", "create 1000 King Baudouin Stadiums", "a King Baudouin Stadium full of children's drawings" and "fill one compartment of the King Baudouin Stadium with fanatic female fans"). After accomplishing these challenges convincingly, additionally the home-staying fans were asked to "Support our supporters in Scotland" (during the eighth qualifier), and later to wish the players good luck before their take-off towards the penultimate qualifier in Croatia at the national airport tarmac. The 2nd of June 2013 the Red Devils held their first Fan Day ever, in the King Baudouin Stadium; over 20,000 supporters showed up to catch a glimpse of their idols. Five days later just before the World Cup qualifier against Serbia, for the first time the players would see a tifo, measuring 10.5m x 11.5m and depicting a devil composed of the national colours. In June 2014 at the days of Belgium's World Cup group matches, large dance events titled Dance with the Devils will take place in the cities of Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. The many players appearing in a foreign high-level football league (e.g., as of July 2013 twelve Devils would play the next season in the Premier League), promising qualification results under Marc Wilmots and foreign optimistic forecasts - either genuine or mockery - only increased the enthusiasm and belief in World Cup qualification and a good performance in Brazil. In spite of the existing euphoria, after the 7th qualifier coach Marc Wilmots and players like Kevin De Bruyne warned that the Red Devils are not in Brazil yet.
In the summer of 1986, when the Belgian delegation reached the semifinals of the World Cup in Mexico, the football team started the project Casa Hogar under impulse of delegation responsible Dr. Michel D'Hooghe. This is a home for street children in the industrial Mexican city Toluca, to which the football players donated part of their tournament bonuses. During 25 years, the Belgian Football Association stayed committed with this project and helped 500 children to meals and education. In 2011, Casa Hogar came in hands of the local city council. In August 2013, the national team supported the social charity fund "Football+ Foundation" by playing with a plus sign on the shoulders of their jerseys during their match against France, and by afterwards auctioning these shirts in favour of this fund. The gains went to four social projects supporting handicapped people, homeless, vulnerable youngsters and socially deprived groups, respectively.
Actions and public relations
Next to supporting charity and interacting with the supporters through a Fan Day, challenges and promotional trailers, Belgium's national side also participated in anti-racism campaigns. In 2010, the home Euro 2012 qualifier against Austria stood in the theme of "respect for diversity". This action was supported by the UEFA and made part of the European Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Action Week. Ex-Red Devil Dimitri Mbuyu (first black Belgium player, in 1987) engaged himself as godfather for this action, and also other (ex-)players of foreign origin in the Belgian competition participated.
While Belgian FA chairman De Keersmaecker, CEO Martens and the trainer and players themselves also regularly give public interviews, the official head of Communication and spokesperson from the RBFA and the Belgium national football team is Stefan Van Loock.
More than with any other of the four surrounding countries, Belgium maintains an outspoken sportive rivalry with the Netherlands, not in the least at the level of association football. This can mainly be explained by the long common history of both countries (they have been together in the Seventeen Provinces and as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands), the similar country sizes and in this case also their shared longlasting passion for football. Taking this into account, one could say that the Red Devils and Oranje are ideal football sparring partners. International sport contests between Belgium and the Netherlands, typically football matches, are also referred to as Derbies of the Low Countries (Derbies der Lage Landen). As the countries maintain good relations these duels are not covered in a hostile atmosphere, but even in the friendly matches the mood is generally very tense.
Already as early as in 1901 a first (unofficial) match had place, where the Belgian team featured some Englishmen. Belgium won this home game by 8–0. After two more unofficial matches, Oranje won the first official match in 1905 with a 1–4 away win after extra time. One year later, also Belgium achieved its first official win in a Derby (5–0). Belgium and the Netherlands have been defending their honour in many matches, both friendly and competitive ones, for a total of 125 official Derbies. Between 1905 and 1932, 33 matches between the Low Countries were friendly cup matches (described in sub-section Belgium vs. Netherlands Cups). Between 1972 and 1985, Belgium and the Netherlands encountered each other in not less than 10 qualification matches for European and World Championships. Apart from Belgium having qualified for three more World Cups than the Netherlands up to 1970 and the better Belgian tournament performances in 1972, 1980, 1986, and 2002, the Dutch football players have been more successful at the international stage, as reflected by their European title and three World Cup final appearances. Because of this, from the seventies onwards the Dutch were mostly perceived as favourites. Even a tie game could be regarded as a moral victory for the Belgian squad. In direct confrontations, however, the performances from both Low Countries have been more balanced: Oranje won 55 duels, the Red Devils 41. As of June 2013, the last Dutch victory dated from 1997 (3–1) and the last Belgian win from 2012 (4–2).
Apart from this never-ending sportive struggle, the Belgian and Dutch federations have also put the hands together in last decades for different initiatives. At the international level they organized Euro 2000 and (unfruitfully) made a bid to organize the 2018 World Cup (the Holland Belgium Bid). At club level in women's football, the competitions from both football nations even merged as BeNe League in 2012. Together with the French competition that hosts French, Monégasque and Spanish teams, this is one of the rare cases where teams from different independent countries share the same football competition. A similar Belgian-Dutch club league for men's football has already been considered, yet without practical implementations. In 2012, the Belgian Pro League president Ronny Verhelst proclaimed a male BeNe League could start "in 3 or 4 years, if everyone is convinced".
In books and popular culture
Next to the existence of supporters' clubs, fansites and social networking webpages to share the passion, and the sale of several supporters' items to encourage the national team, other products have been dedicated to the Red Devils. These include books, a film, comic books and songs. Whether or not with commercial purposes, what most of them share is that they either look forward to an upcoming World Cup or European Championship, or that they look back to the experiences of past major tournaments.
- Books: There have also been publications that pay as much attention to all teams participating in a major tournament or that only focus on one player, but in following non-exhaustive list the scope lies mostly on the Belgium national football team. About the 1986 World Cup: De zomer van Mexico '86, Terug naar Toluca; about longer periods: Les diables rouges, De Montevideo à Orlando, Le siècle des Diables rouges, 100 Jaar Rode Duivels, Diables Rouges, pour le meilleur et pour le pire, Het Duivels Boek, Italia '80 - Italia '90, Kroniek van het Belgische voetbal - Pioniers en Rode Duivels, De Rode Duivels. Het officiële boek; about young Belgian players in the Premier League in 2013: Sympathy for the Devils.
- Films: In 2005 Buitenspel came out, a picture about a 12-year-old Belgian boy whose dream is to become a member of the Belgian national football squad. This Belgian film is a remake of the Dutch picture In Oranje brought out in 2004.
- Comic books: Comic books have a long tradition in Belgium and some Belgian series are world-famous, such as The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs. In 2013 a first series about the national team started, titled de Rode Duivels/les Diables Rouges and related to the upcoming 2014 World Cup, with as first two albums bestemming Brazilië/destination Brésil and Go! Go! Go!/On y va!. At least two more albums would follow. Before this series, two individual comic books have been published: Ronnie Hansen vertelt... vooruit de Rode Duivels!/Eric Castel raconte... alles les Diables Rouges! (for the occasion of the 1982 World Cup), De Rode Duivels. De grote depressie (after the 1998 World Cup).
- Songs: At the occasion of upcoming World Cups or European Championships, several Belgian artists have been creating simple, enthousiast songs - not always official or approved by the Belgian Football Association. The official song for Belgium at the upcoming 2014 World Cup, Ta fête, is composed by the Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae. Before him, other artists attempted to bring out a song for that occasion, but the Belgian Football Association was not amused and underlined that the Red Devils are a protected brand (one song was already on the market without authorization). In chronologic order previous songs have been: We gon nor Mexico (1970 WC), De Rode Duivels gaan naar Spanje (1982 WC), De Rode Duivels gaan naar Mexico (1986 WC), De Mondiale, De Rode Duivels gaan naar Rome (1990 WC), De Rode Duivels gaan naar Amerika and Go West (1994 WC) and Allez, allez, allez (official song 2000 EC).
The Belgian football team has been under the supervision of 23 different permanent managers and 2 caretakers from 1910 on. Before 1910, a committee of the Belgian Federation selected the players. Initially being supervised by foreigners, it would last until 1930 before team Belgium was officially led by a Belgian (Hector Goetinck). The function of the national manager varied over time; for instance, during the 10 years that Constant Vanden Stock selected the players, the Red Devils were consecutively trained by Viktor Havlicek (1958–1960), Henri Dekens (1960–1961), Arthur Ceuleers (1961–1965) and Raymond Goethals (1966–1968). As of March 2014, the current coach Marc Wilmots is the most successful (permanent) manager that Belgium has ever had, with an average of 1.90 points per match. Before him, the statistically best manager was Raymond Goethals. However, the coach that brought Belgium most successes at international tournament end stages was not Goethals but Guy Thys, who led his team to the 1980 European Championship final and six years later to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Mexico.
Caretakers are indicated in italics.
Updated on 6 March 2014.
|Manager||Tenure||Played||Won||Drawn*||Lost||Win %||Points/game[note 3]||Major tournaments**|
|William Maxwell (1)||1910–1913||20||8||3||9||40.00||1.35|
|William Maxwell (2)||1920–1928||49||14||10||25||28.57||1.06||SO 1920 - Winners[note 4]
SO 1924 - Round 2
|Viktor Löwenfeld||1928–1930||11||5||2||4||45.45||1.55||SO 1928 - Quarter-Finals|
|Hector Goetinck||1930–1934||31||7||5||19||22.58||0.84||WC 1930 - Round 1
WC 1934 - Round 1
|Jack Butler||1935–1940||15||4||4||7||26.67||1.07||WC 1938 - Round 1|
|Dougall Livingstone||1953–1954||13||6||6||1||46.15||1.85||WC 1954 - Group Stage|
|Constant Vanden Stock||1958–1968||68||28||11||29||41.18||1.40|
|Raymond Goethals||1968–1976||44||25||8||11||56.82||1.89||WC 1970 - Group Stage
EC 1972 - Third Place
|Guy Thys (1)||1976–1989||101||46||24||31||45.54||1.60||EC 1980 - Runners-Up
WC 1982 - Round 2
EC 1984 - Group Stage
WC 1986 - Fourth Place
|Guy Thys (2)||1990–1991||13||4||4||5||30.77||1.23||WC 1990 - Round of 16|
|Paul Van Himst||1991–1996||36||19||5||12||52.78||1.72||WC 1994 - Round of 16|
|Wilfried Van Moer||1996||5||2||2||1||40.00||1.60|
|Georges Leekens (1)||1997–1999||29||10||10||9||34.48||1.38||WC 1998 - Group Stage|
|Robert Waseige||1999–2002||34||16||11||7||47.06||1.74||EC 2000 - Group Stage
WC 2002 - Round of 16
|Georges Leekens (2)||2010–2012||19||8||7||4||42.10||1.63|
|Marc Wilmots[note 5]||2012–2018||20||11||5||4||55.00||1.90|
- *Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
- **Abbreviations: SO = Summer Olympics, WC = World Cup, EC = European Championship
- (1): first term
- (2): second term
All-time team and individual records
- See also List of Belgian international footballers and Progression of Belgium association football caps record.
- Belgium's greatest wins were against San Marino (10–1, in 2001) and Zambia (9–0, in 1994). Their longest run of consecutive victories is 7 wins (October 1979-June 1980) and their unbeaten record is 11 games in a row without a loss - from October 1988 till October 1989 and from October 2010 until October 2011.
- The player with most caps is Jan Ceulemans, who featured in the national team 96 times between 1977 and 1991 (8256 minutes played); the player with the longest career span is Wilfried Van Moer, whose appearance at the international level ended 15 years, 8 months and 10 days after his debut.
- The all-time Belgian topscorers are Bernard Voorhoof and Paul Van Himst, with a tally of 30 goals each. The players who scored most goals in one match are Robert De Veen, Bert De Cleyn and Josip Weber (5); De Veen also holds the record of having scored most hat-tricks (3).
- Apart from having gathered most caps, Jan Ceulemans also started most often as team captain (48 times).
- The youngest player to feature in the senior team was Fernand Nisot, at the age of 16 years and 19 days.
- Belgium's highest rank on the FIFA World Rankings, officially introduced in 1992, was fifth (in October 2013); Belgium's all-time high on the long-term World Football Elo Ratings was second (between 2 and 5 September 1920).
Belgium has been led by at least 87 different captains so far; 84 different players started an international game as captain, but due to substitutions the total number is higher. The first player to lead the squad was Camille Van Hoorden (a midfielder), who was given the command during 12 games; the player who started in the leader role mosten often is Jan Ceulemans (48 times). At least 15 pure forwards and eight goalkeepers have fulfilled this role but in the majority of the cases players in defensive positions and midfielders were assigned as captain, as is usually the case in association football. Up till 2011 under Advocaat and Leekens the former Belgium U-23 and current Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen was chosen as national squad's leader, but after having leaved the captaincy to Vincent Kompany during an injury period Kompany would become the new permanent captain.
All-time captain list
In the following (hidden) table it is shown which Belgian players started international games as captain, and during which period. Players that received the captain's armband because of a substitution during a match are not counted.
Correct as of 5 March 2014.
- Belgium national youth football team (U-17, U-18, U-19, U-20, U-21, U-23 Squads)
- Belgian Congo national football team (1948–1960)
- Sport in Belgium
- Note that this match is not considered to be a full international by the English FA, and does not appear in the records of the England team
- The joint bid from Belgium and the Netherlands was preferred to the individual bids of Spain and Austria.
- According to the "three points for a win" standard.
- Even though William Maxwell was the official trainer then, in the tournament the squad was coached by Raoul Daufresne de la Chevalerie
- After the unexpected resignation of Georges Leekens in May 2012, Wilmots was only a caretaker in his first two matches against Montenegro and England. In June, first the player group and later also the Belgian Football Association chose him as permanent coach.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Belgium national football team.|
- Royal Belgium Football Association
- Footbel.be website – Belgian national team news website
- Footbel.be/National 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