Defour with Belgium before a match against Austria on 25 March 2011
|Full name||Steven Arnold Defour|
|Date of birth||15 April 1988|
|Place of birth||Mechelen, Belgium|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 September 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Defour has also represented Belgium's national team since 2006, for which he has gained 41 caps and scored two goals so far.
Defour joined KV Mechelen in 2002 but with the club in financial difficulties he joined Racing Genk two years later, making his first appearances for the first team as a substitute during the 2004–05 season. After a number of eye-catching performances at the start of the following season, the 17-year-old quickly established himself as the team's midfield playmaker.
Ajax transfer saga
With Genk having failed to qualify for Europe and being the club's stand-out performer, Defour had his heart set on a move to Ajax when the Dutch giants officially came in for the playmaker at the end of the 2005–06 season. Genk, enraged by earlier reports that the Dutch club had approached the player to broker a deal without their consent, did not accept the proposed transfer fee and after protracted negotiations Ajax pulled out of the deal. Defour proceeded to try and force a transfer by threatening to leave the club using a specific Belgian law that allows professional athletes on fixed-term contracts to leave their employers before the end of the stipulated term. After the player's actions Ajax did not express a renewed interest in the midfielder and Defour ended up signing for Genk's big rivals Standard Liège for a much-reduced transfer fee, effectively breaking a gentlemen's agreement between Belgian clubs not to sign under-contract players who (threaten to) leave their clubs using the aforementioned law. The incident prompted Genk's then chairman to step down and is still a source of resentment towards both Standard Liège and the player for some sections of the Genk faithful.
Defour signed a five-year deal with Standard, and played alongside Portuguese star Sérgio Conceição and Croatian international Milan Rapaić in the 2006–07 season. At the start of the 2007–08 season, Standard chose Defour as their captain despite him being only 19 years old.
During the 2007–08 season, Defour received the Golden Boot, the official award for the most valuable player in the league. He won this personal award at the same time as leading his team to their first Jupiler League title in 25 years. The next season was equally successful as Standard won the league for the second time in a row after a two-game play-off against Belgian heavyweights Anderlecht.
In late 2009, Defour broke his right foot. During his period of recovery he received a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, wishing him all the best in his recovery. This led to persistent rumours of a switch to the English giants. On 26 October, when talking to talksport Defour refuted these rumours by saying "I do know that Manchester United are monitoring me – if everything goes well and I continue playing as I am, there is a better chance of me leaving than there was at the start of the season."
On 15 August 2011, Portuguese giants FC Porto reached an agreement with Standard Liege to buy the sporting rights of Defour for €6m. Defour signed a contract with Porto for 5 seasons. On 18 September 2012 Defour scored F.C. Porto's second goal against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Awards and honours
- Standard Liège
- F.C. Porto
- Belgian Golden Shoe): 2007
|1||6 September 2008||Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liège||Estonia||3–2||Won||2010 World Cup Qualification|
|2||6 September 2013||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Scotland||2–0||Won||2014 World Cup Qualification|
- "England 1 Belgium 0 [1–0]". England Football Online. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "COMUNICADO" [Communication] (in Portuguese). FC Porto official site. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "COMUNICADO" [Communication] (in Portuguese). FC Porto official site. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "FC Porto deal for Defour". ESPN Soccernet. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
|Standard Liège Captain
Jelle Van Damme