Belgium national football team

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This article is about the men's team. For the women's team, see Belgium women's national football team.
Belgium
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) [De] Rode Duivels
[Les] Diables Rouges
[Die] Rote[n] Teufel
([The] Red Devils)
Association Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB/URBSFA/KBFV)[A]
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Marc Wilmots[1]
Captain Vincent Kompany[2]
Most caps Jan Ceulemans (96)[3]
Top scorer Bernard Voorhoof and
Paul Van Himst (30)[3]
Home stadium King Baudouin Stadium
FIFA code BEL
FIFA ranking 2 Increase 1 (4 June 2015)
Highest FIFA ranking 2 (June 2015)
Lowest FIFA ranking 71 (June 2007)
Elo ranking 11 (6 July 2015)[4]
Highest Elo ranking 2 (September 1920[5])
Lowest Elo ranking 74 (September 2009[5])
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Belgium 3–3 France 
(Brussels, Belgium; 1 May 1904)
Biggest win
 Belgium 9–0 Zambia Flag of Zambia (1964-1996).svg
(Brussels, Belgium; 4 June 1994)
 Belgium 10–1 San Marino 
(Brussels, Belgium; 28 February 2001)
Biggest defeat
England England Amateurs 11–2 Belgium 
(London, England; 17 April 1909)[B]
World Cup
Appearances 12 (First in 1930)
Best result Fourth place, 1986
European Championship
Appearances 4 (First in 1972)
Best result Runners-up, 1980

The Belgian national football team[C] has officially represented Belgium in association football since 1904.

It is controlled by the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), the governing body for football in Belgium. As the RBFA co-founded FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA),[6][7] the national squad is affiliated to both international football organisations. Since 1906, the side has been colloquially referred to as the Red Devils.[D] Most of their home matches are held at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

Periods of regular Belgian representation at the highest international level, between 1920 and 1938 and from 1970 until 2002, were interspersed with major difficulties to qualify. The team experienced two golden ages: the 1980s until early 1990s, and the early 2010s. Achievements in international tournaments include the 1920 Olympic Football Gold Medal, runner-up in the 1980 UEFA European Championship and a fourth-place finish at the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Between 1954 and 2002, the team won matches against four reigning world championsWest Germany, Brazil, Argentina and France.[8]

Belgium maintains a longstanding rivalry with their Netherlands equivalent, having played biannually between 1905 and 1964 (excluding the war periods) and less frequently since. The record holder for appearances is Jan Ceulemans, who played 96 times for the national side between 1977 and 1991. Bernard Voorhoof and Paul Van Himst share the scoring record, with a tally of 30 goals each. The team is backed by a supporters' federation named 1895.

History[edit]

Early years (1901–1919)[edit]

Belgium was the first mainland European country to play association football,[9] after the Irish student Cyril B. Morrogh walked with a leather ball into the Josephites College of Melle near Ghent on 26 October 1863,[10] and British teachers helped to spread the sport to other schools and entire Belgium.[11] Over the following decades, it supplanted rugby as the most popular national football sport;[11] the first league in Belgian football was held in 1896.[11] On 11 October 1900, Beerschot AC president of honour Jorge Díaz announced that Belgium would host a series of challenge matches in Antwerp, taking on Europe's best football teams.[12] After some organisational difficulties a first tournament, the Challenge F. Vanden Abeele, was played between a Belgian A-selection and a Dutch B-team on 28 April 1901.[13] This class difference was translated into a flagrant 8–0 win for the former,[14] and team Belgium also won three follow-up games (1–0, 2–1, 6–4).[15] However, these results were not recognised by FIFA since the Belgian team contained some English players.[16]

The first Belgium A-selection in 1901 still featured four Englishmen.

On 1 May 1904 the Belgians played their first official game, against France at the wooden Stade Vivier d'Oie in Uccle. The teams both lined up in a contemporary pyramid formation and tied 3–3, leaving neither side in possession of the Évence Coppée Trophy.[17] At that time, the Belgian squad was chosen by a committee of representatives from the country's six or seven main clubs.[18]

Belgium would play twice a year against the Netherlands beginning from 1905, generally once in Antwerp and once in Rotterdam. Coincidence or not, but already in 1905 a Dutch reporter wrote that three Belgian players "work[ed] as devils" during a match in the Netherlands.[19] For decades, Belgian-Dutch cup trophies would be awarded in the "Low Countries derby".[20]

In 1906, Leopold FC manager Pierre Walckiers was the first to nickname the players Red Devils, inspired by their team colours and that year's achievement of three consecutive victories: a 0–5 win versus France and 5–0 and 2–3 wins against the Netherlands.[21] In his match report about the last game in La Vie Sportive, the RBFA magazine, Walckiers wrote that they behaved as petits diables rouges ("little red devils").[22] With five goals in these games in 1906 and 26 goals in 23 appearances, the productive striker Robert De Veen was the first Belgian coryphaeus.

In 1910, former Scottish footballer William Maxwell was assigned as first manager of the Red Devils. Under his charge, centre forward Alphonse Six made his international debut; according to historian Richard Henshaw, Six was "Belgium's greatest player in the prewar period (...) and [he] was often called the most skillful forward outside Great Britain".[23] Football was largely suspended during the First World War, with only some unrecognised friendlies played in and against France between 1915 and 1918.[24][25] Regrettably, three Belgian international players died in the war;[26] Six succumbed in a bombardment at age 24.[27]

Debuts at major tournaments (1920–1978)[edit]

In the 1920 Olympic football final at Het Kiel, Robert Coppée opened the score for Belgium with a penalty kick.
Paul Van Himst, elected Belgium's Golden Player, also managed the team.

In 1920 at their first official Olympic appearance, the Red Devils won the gold medal on home soil after a controversial final in which their opponents Czechoslovakia left the pitch.[28] While their results in the three Summer Olympics of the 1920s were meritorious—four wins in seven games—, the team lost every match of their first three FIFA World Cup participations in the 1930s. Bernard Voorhoof and "Belgium's football grandmaster" Raymond Braine, both strikers, were among the most talented Belgian players in the 1920s–1930s era.[29][30]

International football tournaments were suspended in the 1940s following the outbreak of World War II. A number of gifted players featured between 1945 and 1959, including attackers Jef Mermans, Pol Anoul and Rik Coppens, and centre back Louis Carré.[23] Belgium qualified for only one out of eight major tournaments in the 1950s and 1960s: the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. Mainly the 1960s were the glory days of forward and four-time Belgian Golden Shoe Paul Van Himst, later elected Belgium's Golden Player (of 1954–2003) and Belgium's Player of the Century by IFFHS.[31][32] He was part of the national team until 1974.

The team's prospects improved in the early 1970s, under Raymond Goethals. As White Devils, Belgium obtained their first wins at World and European Championships, in 1970 and 1972 respectively. The Euro 1972 tournament, in which they finished third, was their first Euro appearance. Defending midfielder and triple Golden Shoe Wilfried Van Moer contributed to the 1970–72 revival. In 1973, the denial of a legal goal in their ultimate qualifier cost Belgium their 1974 FIFA World Cup ticket.[33] The next two attempts to qualify for a major tournament were also in vain. Since the 1970s a key strength of the Belgian team became its systematic use of the offside trap,[34] a defensive tactic developed in the 1960s by Anderlecht coach Pierre Sinibaldi.[35]

'Golden generation' (1978–2002)[edit]

Belgium's most successful period started when they finished second in the UEFA Euro 1980. The 1980s and early 1990s are generally considered the first golden age of the national team.[36] Under the leadership of Guy Thys, who coached more than 100 official games,[24] they established a reputation of being a physical, well-organised team that was difficult to play against.[37][38]

The Red Devils finished second at Euro 1980 in Italy, under guidance of head coach Guy Thys.

Between 1982 and 2002, Belgium qualified for every World Cup and mostly also made it to the second round. After Thys, also managers Paul Van Himst and Robert Waseige guided a national selection past the first round. Apart from individual FIFA recognitions, the team as a collective reached the semifinals in 1986. While the World Cups of 1990 and 1994 were reached directly by ending high in their continental qualifying groups, like in 1986 the national squad had to struggle through two-legged play-off rounds again to qualify for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

After their Euro 1980 final, Belgium did not convince anymore at the continental level, with early exits in their two Euro appearances in 1984 and 2000.

In this period, the usual 4–4–2 formation featured multiple world-class players such as goalkeepers Jean-Marie Pfaff and Michel Preud'homme and midfielders Jan Ceulemans and Franky Van der Elst,[39][40][41] alongside talents as right-back Eric Gerets, playmaker Enzo Scifo and strikers Luc Nilis and Erwin Vandenbergh.[42][43] All of these Red Devils had retired from international football by 2000. After the 2002 World Cup, other valuable veterans stopped playing with the national side, including Marc Wilmots and Gert Verheyen. Coach Waseige left as well,[44] with Aimé Anthuenis superseding him.[45]

Setbacks and new hope (2002–2012)[edit]

After 2002, Belgium failed to qualify for five major international tournaments in a row, and as many head coaches came and went. Anthuenis' contract was not renewed beyond 2005 after missing out Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. René Vandereycken replaced him in January 2006,[46] but gradually the team slipped to an all-time low 71st position in the FIFA World Rankings in June 2007. After failing to qualify for Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, the RBFA was prompted to sack coach Vandereycken in April 2009.[47] 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 Young Red Devils squad placed fourth at Beijing 2008. These young players, 17 of whom would grow into the senior national team,[48] were characterised 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 the then lowly ranked team of Armenia (125th on the FIFA World Rankings) in September 2009,[49] caretaker Vercauteren resigned and made way for new coach Dick Advocaat.[50][51] However, after only six months at the helm, Advocaat also resigned amid—justified—speculation that he was to become coach of Russia.[52] Georges Leekens was hired as his successor in May 2010, signing a contract until 2012.[53] Under Leekens, the Red Devils narrowly missed the Euro 2012 play-offs. Leekens left in May 2012 and signed for Club Brugge;[54] Marc Wilmots, assistant manager since 2009, was assigned as caretaker.[55]

New 'golden generation' (2012–present)[edit]

The Belgian eleven in 2013
Belgium against Algeria at Estádio Mineirão during the 2014 World Cup

After two matches as caretaker, Wilmots accepted the request to fully replace Leekens.[1] Under his reign the team improved, rising to a then-high of fifth on the FIFA World Rankings in October 2013.[56] By 2013, several foreign media regarded this Belgian national side during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as a new golden generation.[57][58][59][60] Belgium had a broad potential to create chances, mainly with players such as attackers Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke, as well as wingers Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne, and midfielders Mousa Dembélé, Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel. The solid defence has also been well noticed with outfield players such as Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld as well as goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet. In their typical 4–2–3–1 arrangement, Belgium finally qualified as unbeaten group winners. At the 2014 World Cup finals, the young squad continued its success by managing a streak of four wins, earning a spot for Belgium in the quarter-finals for only the second time in its history.

In June 2014, Wilmots prolonged his managerial contract up to and including the 2018 World Cup.[61] Players such as Radja Nainggolan and Divock Origi added up to the offensive potential of his squad. As of early 2015, Belgium participates in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. The team attained another all-time FIFA rank record during this period, reaching second in June 2015.

Team image[edit]

Media coverage[edit]

Gust De Muynck's live coverage during Belgium-Netherlands in 1931

The first live coverage of a football match of Belgium's national team was given on 3 May 1931. Journalist Gust De Muynck commented Belgium-Netherlands at the radio; this was also the first Belgian sporting event on air.[62]

Decades later, television became the more popular medium to follow the matches. As 59 per cent of the Belgians speak Dutch and 41 per cent speak French, the games of the national team are broadcast in both languages. During Belgium's tournament appearances in the 1980s and early 1990s, Rik De Saedeleer crowned himself the nation's most famous football commentator with his emotional and humorous match reports.[63] Initially the matches have been broadcast mainly on public channels—the former BRTN in Dutch and the RTBF in French—, but since 1994 also commercial channels have been purchasing the emission rights, such as vtm (with sister channel Kanaal 2) and VIER in Flanders.[64] The Belgian broadcasting right holders for the Euro 2016 qualifiers are VRT, RTBF and cable broadband providers BeTV and Telenet.[65] The 8th final against the United States at the 2014 World Cup was the most-watched television program in Belgian history so far, with a total audience of over four million viewers out of 11.2 million Belgian citizens.[66]

In April 2014, the VRT started emitting a nine-piece weekly documentary about the national team behind the scenes during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, titled Iedereen Duivel ("Everybody Devil"),[67] while Telenet brought out an eight-piece documentary about individual players, Rode Helden ("Red Heroes").[68]

Actions[edit]

  • Actions for the fans: During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, a string of interactive actions was organised: the so-called Devil Challenges.[69] The premise was that small groups of international players 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", etc.), all of which were convincingly accomplished.[70] In June 2013 the Red Devils welcomed over 20,000 supporters at their first ever Fan Day;[71] a second edition was held after the 2014 World Cup.[72] In June 2014 at the days of Belgium's World Cup group matches, large dance events titled Dance with the Devils (pun on a 2001 trance album)[73] took place in the cities of Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi.[74]
  • Charity support: An unofficial match against Netherlands in 1926 served exclusively as fundraiser for benefactions.[75] In the summer of 1986, when the Belgian delegation reached the Mexico World Cup semifinals, the football team started the project Casa Hogar under impulse of delegation responsible Michel D'Hooghe. This is a home for street children in the industrial Mexican city Toluca, to which the footballers donated part of their tournament bonuses.[76] In August 2013, the national team supported four social projects via the charity fund Football+ Foundation, by playing an A-match with a plus sign on the shoulders of their jerseys and afterwards auctioning the shirts.[77][78]
  • Anti-racism campaigns: In 2002, the national squad posed with anti-racist slogans,[79] and in 2010 a home Euro 2012 qualifier stood in the theme of "Respect for diversity". This UEFA-supported action made part of the European FARE Action Week.[80] Ex-Red Devil Dimitri Mbuyu (first black Belgium player, in 1987)[48][81] was engaged as godfather, and also other (ex-)players of foreign origin in the Belgian competition participated.

Support[edit]

Cycling is the traditional national sport of Belgium, but soccer is the most popular.

 —Richard Henshaw, 1979[11]

Just like the national team the Belgian supporters manifest themselves with the Belgian tricolour, usually with emphasis on red. The most beautiful moment for the Red Devils and their fans was probably in the summer of 1986, when the Belgian delegation at the Mexico World Cup was given a warm 'welcome home'. The Grand Place of Brussels was captured by an ecstatic crowd that cheered to their World Cup semifinalists appearing on the Town Hall balcony, as if they had won a major tournament.[82] Only by 2012 the supporters joined their forces by merging the local fan clubs into one large Belgian supporters' federation named 1895, after the year of foundation of the RBFA. One year later, 1895 counted over 24,000 members.[83]

Logo of the national fan federation
Young Belgium fan with typical tricolour Fellaini afro wedge

After the six consecutive World Cup qualifications between 1982 and 2002, the national team abruptly failed to reach the end stages of the five subsequent European and World Championships. Despite the efforts, between 2004 and 2010 multiple journalists described the Belgian footballing nation as being "deadly sick".[84][85] In spite of this severe popularity strain, some fans still kept supporting their team in the bad days, the most faithful one probably being Ludo Rollenberg. This man attended the games of the Red Devils worldwide since 1990, only having missed the Kirin Cup in 1999 and two other matches by 2006,[86] and even showing up as only supporter in Armenia in 2009.[87]

In 2008, hope surged when Belgium's U-23 acquired fourth place at the Olympics in Beijing; several of these players would later appear in the senior national team. Even though the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 were not reached, the popularity and belief in an upcoming major tournament continued to rise again.

During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, the bond with supporters was further strengthened by means of interactive actions called the Devil Challenges, as well as a Fan Day (see section Actions). Just before the kick-off of a home qualifier, the players would for the first time see a tifo banner, measuring 10.5 by 11.5 metres and depicting a devil composed of the national colours.[88] The many players appearing in foreign high-level football leagues (e.g., as of July 2013 twelve Devils would play the next season in the Premier League)[89] and promising results under Marc Wilmots only increased the enthusiasm and belief in a successful World Cup campaign. Because of this popularity peak, two Belgian monuments were decorated in national colours for the 2014 FIFA World Cup event: the Manneken Pis statue was given a kid's version of the new World Cup uniform,[90] while facets of the Atomium's upper sphere were covered in black, yellow and red.[91]

[edit]

The national team has had three official anthropomorphous mascots: a lion in team kit named Diabolix, a red super devil and a fan-made modern devil.[92] In 2012, the Red Devils adopted a red trident as new logo.[93]

Uniform[edit]

Colours
The Belgian tricolore flag

Traditionally the squad of Belgium plays at home entirely in colours of the Belgian tricolore, predominantly red—most of the time the jerseys were even all red. This explains the very common nickname Red Devils. In their first unofficial match in 1901, the selection still wore light shirts with tricoloured bands at both upper arms.[20] Only at Belgium's third unofficial match in 1902, it was decided to dress the players in a "shirt with national colours (...) [that would indicate,] with a stripe, the number of times every player has participated in an encounter".[14] In their first official game, the national team appeared in plain red jerseys, and after a short-lived experiment with satin shirts with three horizontal bands in red, yellow and black (that sports journalist Victor Boin dismissed as "the ugliness record"),[18] Belgium switched back to entirely red home jerseys.

The away kits have usually been designed in white or black (or both), often trimmed with tricolores at the margins of the equipment. In 1970, manager Goethals opted for the all white away combination rather than the home kit with traditional red jersey, aiming to improve the visibility during the many evening matches.[94] This colour pattern was systematically used in the remainder of the 1970s;[95] hence the temporary nickname White Devils. Only in 2014 a third kit was inaugurated, entirely in yellow.[96]

Crest
Old crest (1948–1980)

Since the earliest decades, at the heart position of the shirt a yellow lion on a black shield was depicted, derived from the escutcheon in the Belgian coat of arms. From 1981 on, the association badge replaced the lion crest as national emblem.

Kit evolution[edit]

See also the kits at major tournaments.

Throughout the footballing nation's sartorial history, the outfield players wore home equipments with the following colour patterns:[95][97][98]

1901 (unofficial)
-
1904,
1905–1957
1904–1905
-
1958–1970
-
1970–1979 *
-
1980,
2006–2010
1981–2006,
2010–present
* In 1970, the all white away combination also started getting used in home games; in the rest of the decade it was systematically worn.

Six different clothing brands have been manufacturing the official team strips:[95][99][100][101]

Some controversy arose after Adidas announced the newest kit (for the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers) because the basic design is completely identical to existing Adidas shirts, with only the Belgian crest added.[102][103]

Home stadium[edit]

The national football stadium at the Heysel Plateau in 1935 (left) and in 2013

Throughout their history, Belgium have played at 23 home venues in 11 urban areas.[24] Most home games have been disputed at the site of the national King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, a multifunctional stadium with a capacity of 50,122 seats.[104] Apart from local events it also hosted eight European Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals, as well as six European Championship matches.

At its inauguration as Jubilee Stadium in 1930 with an unofficial Low Countries derby,[105] over 70,000 spectators could enter the immense bowl.[106] It was renamed Heysel Stadium in 1946, but during the 1985 European Cup final this new title became infamous. Riots in the disrepaired building led to the tragic Heysel Stadium disaster, which cost the lives of 39 spectators when Liverpool fans charged a neutral area.[107] This catastrophe called for a drastic architectural transformation. After a decade of renovations, the modernised stadium was named after the late King Baudouin I in 1995.

In May 2013, it was announced that the King Baudouin Stadium would be demolished and a new stadium ("Eurostadium") would arise nearby at the Heysel Plateau;[108] two years later a building deadline for 2019 was set.[109] In September 2014, UEFA assigned Brussels as one of the 13 host cities for the 2020 European Championship, with the upcoming Eurostadium as venue for four games.[110]

Training grounds

Before upcoming home matches of the national team, only the last trainings are held in the home stadium itself: since 2007, most of the physical preparation usually takes place at the National Football Centre in Tubize.[111]

Rivalries[edit]

Low Countries derby
Match summary (3'31") of Netherlands-Belgium in 1930 (2–2)
1904 pre-match panoramic team picture with Belgium (left) and France making their debut
Main article: Low Countries derby

Belgium maintains an outspoken sports rivalry with the Netherlands, not in the least in the discipline of association football. This can mainly be explained by the long common history of both countries and in this case also their shared long-lasting passion for football. International sports contests between Belgium and the Netherlands, typically the football matches between the Red Devils and Oranje, are also referred to as Low Countries derbies. As the countries maintain close relations, these duels are not covered in a hostile atmosphere, but the mood is generally very tense even in the friendly games.

As early as 1901, a first (unofficial) match took place in which the Belgian team, featuring four Englishmen, won by 8–0.[14] They also won the three unofficial follow-up games.[112] The first official duel in 1905, in which Belgium still featured an English goalkeeper (!), was won by Netherlands with 1–4 after extra time. One year later, Belgium registered its own first official Derby win (5–0). The two countries played biannually between 1905 and 1964 (excluding the war periods), and faced off in 125 official Derbies so far.[E][8] Not only did the Low Countries meet 18 times in the framework of major tournaments, they also played at least 35 friendly cup duels.[24] The overall balance is in favour of the Netherlands: Oranje won 55 duels, the Red Devils 41.

Apart from this never-ending sports struggle, the Belgian and Dutch federations also co-operated in diverse initiatives. Between 1925 and 1932 the teams faced off in four unofficial matches as fundraisers for charity, FIFA and the Belgian Olympic Committee,[105][113] and more recently at the international level the federations organised Euro 2000 and made an unfruitful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.[114] At club level in women's football the top competitions from both footballing nations even temporarily merged into the BeNe League, between 2012 and 2015.[115]

Le match sympathique

The clash between Belgium and France is also historical. Their first encounter in 1904 was the first official match for both teams and was at the same time the first between two independent countries on the entire European continent.[116] Throughout their history the two teams duelled at numerous occasions; until the 1970s they even met almost annually. Belgium is the opponent France dealt with most often in international games, for a total of 73 official matches.[F] The overall Franco-Belgian balance is in favour of the Red Devils who won 30 times, while Les Bleus celebrated 24 victories.

Staff[edit]

Marc Wilmots (left) and his assistant Vital Borkelmans

A crew of over 20 people professionally surrounds the player group, including the following members:[117]

Sports technical
Position Name
Manager Marc Wilmots
Assistant coach Vital Borkelmans
Goalkeeping coach Erwin Lemmens
Fitness coach Mario Innaurato
Video analyst Herman De Landtsheer
Team manager Piet Erauw
Medical
Position Name
Team doctors Kris Van Crombrugge
Geert Declerq
Physiotherapists Bernard Vandevelde
Geert Neyrinck
Dimitri Lowette
Podiatrist Jo Dewijze
Nutritionist Nicolas Paraskevopulos
Édouard de Laveleye, de facto the first national manager (1904–1909)

Managers[edit]

Since 1904, the RBFA, 23 permanent managers and two caretaker managers have been officially in charge of the national team, which included at least player selection.[24][118] As of 12 June 2015, Marc Wilmots is the best manager of all times in statistical terms, with on average 2.17 points per match. Guy Thys brought Belgium most successes at major tournaments—the best results at World and European championships—and was accordingly proclaimed Manager of the Year by magazine World Soccer in 1986.[119]

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following players were convocated for the friendly game against France and the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against Wales on 7 and 12 June 2015, respectively, and were able to play against Wales.[120]
Caps, goals and player numbers are correct as of 12 June 2015 after the game against Wales.[121] Only FIFA-recognised matches are included.[G]

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Thibaut Courtois (1992-05-11) 11 May 1992 (age 23) 31 0 England Chelsea
12 1GK Simon Mignolet (1988-03-06) 6 March 1988 (age 27) 13 0 England Liverpool
13 1GK Jean-François Gillet (1979-05-31) 31 May 1979 (age 36) 9 0 Italy Catania
2 2DF Toby Alderweireld (1989-03-02) 2 March 1989 (age 26) 47 1 England Southampton
3 2DF Nicolas Lombaerts (1985-03-20) 20 March 1985 (age 30) 35 3 Russia Zenit Saint Petersburg
5 2DF Jan Vertonghen (Vice-captain) (1987-04-24) 24 April 1987 (age 28) 68 5 England Tottenham Hotspur
15 2DF Olivier Deschacht (1981-02-16) 16 February 1981 (age 34) 20 0 Belgium Anderlecht
18 2DF Jason Denayer (1995-06-28) 28 June 1995 (age 20) 3 0 England Manchester City
21 2DF Anthony Vanden Borre (1987-10-24) 24 October 1987 (age 27) 28 1 Belgium Anderlecht
4 3MF Radja Nainggolan (1988-05-04) 4 May 1988 (age 27) 12 3 Italy Roma
6 3MF Axel Witsel (1989-01-12) 12 January 1989 (age 26) 58 6 Russia Zenit Saint Petersburg
7 3MF Kevin De Bruyne (1991-06-28) 28 June 1991 (age 24) 31 7 Germany Wolfsburg
8 3MF Youri Tielemans (1997-05-07) 7 May 1997 (age 18) 0 0 Belgium Anderlecht
16 3MF Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (1993-09-04) 4 September 1993 (age 21) 3 0 France Monaco
19 3MF Mousa Dembélé (1987-07-16) 16 July 1987 (age 27) 62 5 England Tottenham Hotspur
23 3MF Leander Dendoncker (1995-04-25) 25 April 1995 (age 20) 1 0 Belgium Anderlecht
9 4FW Christian Benteke (1990-12-03) 3 December 1990 (age 24) 24 7 England Aston Villa
10 4FW Eden Hazard (Captain) (1991-01-07) 7 January 1991 (age 24) 57 8 England Chelsea
11 4FW Kevin Mirallas (1987-10-05) 5 October 1987 (age 27) 49 9 England Everton
14 4FW Dries Mertens (1987-05-06) 6 May 1987 (age 28) 37 7 Italy Napoli
17 4FW Divock Origi (1995-04-18) 18 April 1995 (age 20) 13 3 England Liverpool
20 4FW Romelu Lukaku (1993-05-13) 13 May 1993 (age 22) 37 8 England Everton

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following (ex-)players have been selected for Belgium in the past 12 months, but are not part of the current squad.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Sammy Bossut (1985-08-11) 11 August 1985 (age 29) 0 0 Belgium Zulte Waregem 2014 FIFA World Cup
DF Thomas Meunier INJ (1991-09-12) 12 September 1991 (age 23) 3 0 Belgium Club Brugge v  France, 7 June 2015
DF Vincent Kompany SUS (captain) (1986-04-10) 10 April 1986 (age 29) 67 4 England Manchester City v  Israel, 31 March 2015
DF Laurent Ciman (1985-08-05) 5 August 1985 (age 29) 9 0 Canada Montreal Impact v  Israel, 31 March 2015
DF Laurens De Bock INJ (1992-11-07) 7 November 1992 (age 22) 0 0 Belgium Club Brugge v  Cyprus, 28 March 2015
DF Jelle Van Damme (1983-10-10) 10 October 1983 (age 31) 31 0 Belgium Standard Liège v  Iceland, 12 November 2014
DF Sébastien Pocognoli (1987-08-01) 1 August 1987 (age 27) 13 0 England West Bromwich Albion v  Iceland, 12 November 2014
DF Guillaume Gillet (1984-03-09) 9 March 1984 (age 31) 21 1 France Bastia v  Australia, 4 September 2014
DF Jordan Lukaku (1994-07-25) 25 July 1994 (age 20) 0 0 Belgium Oostende v  Australia, 4 September 2014
DF Daniel Van Buyten RET (1978-02-07) 7 February 1978 (age 37) 84 10 Retired 2014 FIFA World Cup
DF Thomas Vermaelen (1985-11-14) 14 November 1985 (age 29) 48 1 Spain Barcelona 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Marouane Fellaini INJ (1987-11-22) 22 November 1987 (age 27) 61 14 England Manchester United v  Wales, 12 June 2015
MF Nacer Chadli INJ (1989-08-02) 2 August 1989 (age 25) 29 3 England Tottenham Hotspur v  Wales, 12 June 2015
MF Steven Defour INJ (1988-04-15) 15 April 1988 (age 27) 46 2 Belgium Anderlecht v  Cyprus, 28 March 2015
MF Dennis Praet (1994-05-14) 14 May 1994 (age 21) 1 0 Belgium Anderlecht v  Wales, 16 November 2014
MF Thorgan Hazard (1993-03-29) 29 March 1993 (age 22) 1 0 Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach v  Australia, 4 September 2014
FW Michy Batshuayi (1993-10-02) 2 October 1993 (age 21) 1 1 France Marseille v  Israel, 31 March 2015
FW Adnan Januzaj (1995-02-05) 5 February 1995 (age 20) 5 0 England Manchester United v  Wales, 16 November 2014
  • INJ = Withdrew because of injury
  • RET = Retired from international football
  • SUS = Not selected due to suspension

Previous squads[edit]

Recent results and forthcoming fixtures[edit]

All matches scheduled after the 2014 FIFA World Cup are listed below. Earlier results can be consulted via the summarizing results page.

2014[edit]

2015[edit]

Current campaign standings[edit]

Euro 2016 qualifying Group B
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification Wales Belgium Israel Cyprus Bosnia and Herzegovina Andorra
1  Wales 6 4 2 0 8 2 +6 14 Advance to final tournament 1–0 6 Sep 2–1 0–0 13 Oct
2  Belgium 6 3 2 1 13 2 +11 11 0–0 13 Oct 5–0 3 Sep 6–0
3  Israel 6 3 0 3 10 9 +1 9 Final tournament or play-offs 0–3 0–1 10 Oct 3–0 3 Sep
4  Cyprus 6 3 0 3 12 11 +1 9 3 Sep 6 Sep 1–2 13 Oct 5–0
5  Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 2 2 2 8 7 +1 8 10 Oct 1–1 3–1 1–2 6 Sep
6  Andorra (Y) 6 0 0 6 3 23 −20 0 1–2 10 Oct 1–4 1–3 0–3
Updated to match(es) played on 12 June 2015. Source: UEFA
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers
(Y) Cannot qualify directly as one of the top two teams, but may still qualify as third-placed team.

Competitive record[edit]

See also: the record by opponent and the record per managerial period

FIFA World Cup[edit]

Belgium were not yet successful during their first five World Cup participations as they never survived the first round. After two scoreless defeats at the inaugurational World Cup in 1930, the team did score in their first round knock-out games in 1934 and 1938—but only enough to save their honour. In 1954 they held England to a tie (4–4 a.e.t.) and in 1970 they achieved their first World Cup win, against El Salvador (3–0).

United States-Belgium in 1930 was the (joint) first ever World Cup match.

From 1982 through 2002, Belgium reached six successive World Cups by playing qualification rounds, and advanced to the second phase five times. In the 1982 FIFA World Cup opening game, Belgium celebrated a famous 0–1 win over defending champions Argentina. Their tournament ended however in the second group stage, after a Polish hat-trick from Zbigniew Boniek and a 0–1 loss against the Soviet Union. Four years later they achieved their best-ever World Cup run when they placed fourth at Mexico 1986. In the knockout phase underdogs Belgium surprisingly won against the Soviets after extra time (3–4).[124] They also beat Spain in a penalty shoot-out after a 1–1 draw, but conceded a 2–0 loss against eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal. In the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Belgium met England in the second round. They dominated this match by periods, with Enzo Scifo even hitting the woodwork twice,[38] but eventually lost in the final minute of extra time after a "nearly blind" volley by David Platt.[125] In 1994, Belgium stranded in the second round again as they lost to title defenders Germany (3–2). In 1998, three draws in the first round proved too little to reach the knockout stage. With two ties, the 2002 FIFA World Cup did not start well for Belgium either, but the team won the decisive group match against Russia with 3–2. In the second round they faced eventual champions Brazil. After Marc Wilmots' headed opening goal was disallowed due to a "phantom foul" on Roque Júnior,[126] Brazil won by 2–0.

In 2014, Belgium beat all group opponents with the smallest margin. Thereafter, they played a highly entertaining[127] round of 16 match against the United States in which American goalkeeper Tim Howard made 15 saves[128][I] but the dominant Red Devils defeated Team USA in extra time (2–1). In a balanced quarter-final, Argentina eliminated Belgium by 1–0.

     Champions       Runners-up       Third place       Fourth place

UEFA European Championship[edit]

Jean-Marie Pfaff performing a save during the Euro 1980 group match against England

Belgium's performance in the European Championship does not match its World Cup record. Belgium hosted or co-hosted the event twice, finishing third in 1972 after a 1–2 loss to West Germany and a 2–1 win over Hungary (when they were chosen among the four semi-finalists to host the event), and being one of the major disappointments of the 2000 edition with a first-round exit.

The team's best result is no doubt the unexpected second place at the 1980 edition in Italy. By finishing first in their group, Belgium reached the final in which they faced West Germany. After the German opener from Horst Hrubesch and the penalty equaliser 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 for Die Adler ended the Belgian dream of winning a first European title.

At Euro 1984 the road to the knockout stage seemed open after taking a 0–2 lead in their last group match against Denmark, but the Red Devils could not prevent Danish Dynamite to turn the tide in their favour (3–2). 16 years later, Belgium reappeared at the highest continental level as Euro 2000 co-hosts. After winning its opening game against Sweden with 2–1,[129] two 2–0 losses against eventual tournament's runners-up Italy and Turkey cost the Belgians the quarter-finals.

     Champions       Runners-up       Third place       Fourth place

Summer Olympic Games[edit]

Hectic phase during the goal-rich Olympic win against Luxembourg in 1928 (5–3)

In six Summer Olympics editions between 1908 and 1936, football tournaments for proper senior men's national football teams took place; the Belgian team participated in all three Olympic football tournaments 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. Forward Robert Coppée had given Belgium an early advantage by converting a discussed penalty, and also the action in which Henri Larnoe had doubled the score was a matter of debate. After the expulsion of the Czechoslovak left-back Karel Steiner, the discontented visitors left the pitch in the 40th minute. Afterwards, the away team reported their reasons for protest to the Olympic organisation.[28] These protests were dismissed and the Czechoslovaks got disqualified; the 2–0 score was allowed to stand and Belgium received the gold medal.[23] The key player of the victorious Olympic Red Devils was Coppée, who also scored a hat-trick in the match against Spain.

Apart from the proper national team, two other Belgian delegations appeared at the Summer Olympics. In 1900 a Belgian representation of Université de Bruxelles won bronze, and in 2008 Belgium's U-23 selection placed fourth.

     Gold       Silver       Bronze

Minor tournaments[edit]

Illustration of a Netherlands-Belgium friendly cup match in 1905 (Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad-beker)
Belgium vs. Netherlands Cups
Other

     Winners       Runners-up       Third place

Honours[edit]

Major tournaments
The 1920 Olympic gold medallists, and one of the 154 (identical) gold medals awarded at the seventh modern Olympiad
Icons-mini-icon world.gif FIFA World Cup[132]
Fourth place (1): 1986
Europe map.png UEFA European Championship[133][134]
Runners-up Silver medal europe.svg (1): 1980
Third place Bronze medal europe.svg (1): 1972
Olympic flag border.png Olympic football tournament[23]
Gold Medal Gold medal.svg (1): 1920
Other

For minor titles and other accolades: see the records page, section "Awards".

Records and statistics[edit]

Jan Ceulemans
Team
  • As of July 2015, the overall official match record of the Belgian national team counts 728 games, from which 295 wins, 158 draws and 275 losses.[24][G] During these matches they scored 1228 times and conceded 1208 goals.
- For a statistical breakdown by opponent, see Belgium national football team results#Record per opponent.
- For the (chronological) statistics per managerial period, see List of Belgium national football team managers.
  • Belgium's wins with the largest margins were against San Marino (10–1) and Zambia (9–0).[8] Their longest chain of victories is seven wins (in two periods) and their unbeaten record is 14 official games in a row.[8][G]
  • The highest rank of Belgium on the FIFA World Rankings, officially introduced in 1992, was second (in June 2015);[49] Belgium's all-time high on the long-term World Football Elo Ratings was also second (from 2 till 5 September 1920).[5]
Individual

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The acronyms KBVB, URBSFA and KBFV come from the organisation's respective Dutch, French and German names: Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond, Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football-Association and Königliche Belgische Fußballverband.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Dutch: Belgisch nationaal voetbalelftal
    French: Équipe nationale belge de football
    German: Belgische Fußballnationalmannschaft
  4. ^ Dutch: De Rode Duivels
    French: Les Diables Rouges
    German: Die Roten Teufel
  5. ^ as of 2014
  6. ^ as of 2015
  7. ^ a b c Note that the friendlies against Romania on 14 November 2012 and against Luxembourg on 26 May 2014 are not FIFA-recognised due to an excessive number of substitutions.[122]
  8. ^ If neither country participates in the UEFA Euro 2016 play-offs[123]
  9. ^ FIFA's initial match statistics showed 16 saves, and many news sources continue to use this number. The official FIFA statistics were updated on July 5, 2014 to show 15 saves.
  10. ^ UEFA preferred the joint bid from Belgium and the Netherlands to the individual bids of Spain and Austria.[130]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Boin, Victor (1945). Het gulden jubileumboek van de K.B.V.B. 1895–1945. Geschiedenis van de voetbalsport in Belgie en in Belgisch Kongo (in Dutch). Brussels: Les Éditions Leclercq & De Haas.  (Numberless page copy consulted online on 25 June 2014 on GOAAAL! Voetbalvaria (by RBFA))
  • de Vries, André (2007). Flanders: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-01-953-1493-9. 
  • Edworthy, Niall (1997). England: The Official F.A. History. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-699-1. 
  • Fraiponts, J.N. (1981). Onze Rode Duivels: het volledige verhaal in woord en beeld / Deel 1 (in Dutch). Kapellen: Helios. ISBN 9033300397. 
  • Fraiponts, Jean; Willocx, Dirk (2003). Kroniek van het Belgische voetbal / Pioniers en Rode Duivels - 1863–1906 (in Dutch). Antwerp: Assoc. BE bvba. ISBN 978-90-77314-01-2.  (Extract consulted online on 30 August 2010 on Beerschot Athletic Club)
  • Goldblatt, David (2008). The Ball is Round. New York: Riverhead Trade. ISBN 1-59448-296-9. 
  • Guldemont, Henry; Deps, Bob (1995). 100 ans de football en Belgique: 1895–1995, Union royale belge des sociétés de football association (in French). Brussels: Vif. ISBN 90-5466-151-8. 
  • Henshaw, Richard (1979). The Encyclopedia of World Soccer. Washington, D.C.: New Republic Books. ISBN 0-915220-34-2. 
  • Hubert, Christian (1980). Les diables rouges (in French). Brussels: Arts & voyages. ISBN 978-28-016-0046-7. 
  • Jeřábek, Luboš (2007). Ceský a ceskoslovenský fotbal - lexikon osobností a klubu (in Czech). Prague: Grada Publishing. ISBN 978-80-247-1656-5. 
  • Kassimeris, Christos (2007). European Football in Black and White: Tackling Racism in Football. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-07-391-1959-4. 
  • Schulze-Marmeling, Dietrich (2008). Die Geschichte der Fußball-Europameisterschaft (in German). Göttingen: Verlag Die Werkstatt. ISBN 978-38-953-3553-2. 
  • Willems, Raf (2013). Sympathy for the Devils (in Dutch). Tielt: Lannoo. ISBN 978-94-014-0758-8. 
  • Witzig, Richard (2006). The Global Art of Soccer. Harahan: CusiBoy Publishing. ISBN 0-9776688-0-0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Aerts, Bart; Buyse, Frank; Colin, François; Cornez, Pierre; Decoster, Gilles; Deferme, Dirk et al. (2013). De Rode Duivels. Het officiële boek (in Dutch). Veurne: Uitgeverij Kannibaal. ISBN 978-94-9137-666-5. 
  • Colin, François (2014). De Rode Duivels 1900–2014 (in Dutch). Veurne: Uitgeverij Kannibaal. ISBN 978-94-9137-677-1. 
  • Guldemont, Henry (1978). Toute L'Histoire du Football Belge (in French). Brussels: Éditions Arts & Voyages. ISBN 2801600121. 
  • Hubert, Christian (1994). De Montevideo à Orlando (in French). Brussels: Labor. ISBN 2-8040-1009-0. 
  • Hubert, Christian (2006). Le siècle des Diables Rouges (in French). Brussels: Luc Pire. ISBN 2-87415-684-1. 

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