K.A.A. Gent

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KAA Gent
KAA Gent logo.svg
Full name Koninklijke Atletiek
Associatie Gent
Nickname(s) De Buffalo's (The Buffalos)
Founded 1864; 151 years ago (1864) (as a gymnastics association)
1900; 115 years ago (1900) (as a football association)
Ground Ghelamco Arena,
Ghent, Belgium
Ground Capacity 20,000
Chairman Ivan De Witte
Managing Director Michel Louwagie
Head Coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck
League Belgian Pro League
2014–15 Belgian Pro League, 1st
Website Club home page

Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkoːnɪŋkləkə ˌɑtləˈtik ˌɑsoːˈʃaː(t)si ˈɣɛnt], English: Royal Athletic Association Ghent), often simply known as Ghent or by their nickname De Buffalo's (English: The Buffalos), is a Belgian football, track and field and field hockey club, based in the city of Ghent, East Flanders. They have been playing in the Belgian Pro League since the 1989–90 season. They won the national league once, in 2014–15, in addition to three Belgian Cup victories. Ghent played their home matches in the Jules Ottenstadion in Gentbrugge from 1920 until 2013, when they moved to the Ghelamco Arena. Their team colours are blue and white. The principal sponsor is the financial institution VDK NV.

The field hockey and track and field divisions were founded in 1864, making it one of the oldest sporting clubs in Belgium. The club was then known under their French name La Gantoise (and they are still referred to as such in the French-speaking part of Belgium). They changed their name to the current Dutch version in 1971. The football division opened in 1900. The nickname of the club is De Buffalo's, a term coined after a visit of the original Buffalo Bill and his Wild West circus to the city in the early 20th century.[citation needed] Ghent enjoyed a first spell at the highest level in Belgian football between 1913–14 and 1928–29, and a second one from 1936–37 to 1966–67. In the 1970s and 1980s, the club had several promotions and relegations between the first and second divisions, to come back at the highest level in 1989. The club reached the 1991-92 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, which is their best achievement ever in European competitions.


In 1864, an association called the 'Société Gymnastique la Gantoise', which was tasked with promoting gymnastics, was founded. Some branches quickly became independent and in 1891 the team merged with the Association Athlétique, which was in itself a merger of younger teams, such as Racing Club, Running Club and Red Star. The new merger team was called Association Athlétique La Gantoise, and aside from gymnastics, the activities were broadened to athletics, boxing, cricket, cycling, fencing, hockey, swimming and tennis. In this context, the athletics team KAA Gent was founded.[1]

1914 logo of La Gantoise

In the last decade of the 19th century, organized football was introduced in Ghent. Different small teams were founded and some merged into Racing Club Gantois on 1 April 1899, which would later become the biggest challenger of KAA Gent. Only in 1900, a football section was founded by the students of the College of Melle, which is a place close to Ghent. The first president of the team was doctor Hector Priem. The games were played on the Carpentierplein, which was situated at the crossroads of the Kortrijksesteenweg, the Clementinalaan, the Oostendestraat and the Astridlaan. Initially, the colours black and white were chosen, but by 31 October 1900, when the team became an official member, the colours were changed to blue and white. On 15 November 1900, the first regular game was played, against Omnium Sporting Club. In January 1901, the team played against Racing Club Gantois, which was, at that time, the larger of the two. KAA Gent lost the game with 10–0. Nevertheless, at the end of the 19th century the team already became a member of the UBSSA (Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques or the Belgian Union of the Athletic Sports Society, and although Racing Club Gantois was the elder team in the city, KAA Gent would receive a lower matricule number than Racing Club, which would receive 11. In 1901 AA La Gantoise played its first games in the lower divisions.[2]

For the first few years, the team mostly played in the Belgian Second Division, and later on in the First Division. In 1904 the team moved to the Mussenstraat. In 1913, the World Exposition was held at that place, and the team moved once more, this time to the Albertlaan. Over there, a football pitch, training fields, tennis courts, an athletics court, galleries and other accommodations were being built. At 9 December 1915, during the First World War, the stadium completely burned down. In 1912–13, AA La Gantoise became champion in the First Division. In 1914, the team received the royal title and was called Association Royale Athlétique La Gantoise, which was abbreviated to ARA La Gantoise. During the world exposition, the team organized several sporting events. The first season in the First League, 1913/14, was nevertheless very difficult for the team and only by means of a test match against Standard Club Liégois, relegation was avoided.[3]

In 1920, the team moved again, this time to Gentbrugge, where the Jules Ottenstadion was built. La Gantoise fell back to the Second Division and it was not until 1936 it managed to win the promotion play-offs and return to the First Division.[4] In the mid-fifties, the team played their strongest football yet. In 1953–54 it ended third with an equal total of points as KFC Malinois and only one point behind the champions RSC Anderlecht. The next season, La Gantoise was alone on the second spot, this time with three points less than the champions.[5] In 1964 it won the Belgian Cup (Beker van België), which was the first major tournament victory for the team. Because of their cup win, it became the first Belgian team to participate in the newly founded UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. La Gantoise was defeated in the first round by West Ham United.[6] In 1967, the club relegated once more, after three decades of playing in the First Division. It did, however, only take them one year to clinch promotion again.[7]

Results from 1970 until 2015[edit]

In 1971 the name of the team was translated into Dutch, as it became "Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent" (commonly known as KAA Gent or AA Gent). The 1970–71 season was the start of a bad decade for Ghent. They were relegated to the Second Division six games before the season's ending, after the defeat to Club Brugge. In 1974, they even relegated to the Third Division. Ghent had ended last and couldn't assure its promotion to the Second Division in the final round.[8] After one season, they would return to the Second Division and remained there until 1980, when the team returned to the First Division.[9] The 1980s would become a much better period for the team. In 1984 they won the Belgian Cup again, and during that period the team played in European competitions four times.[10] In 1986–87, Ghent reached the Third round in the UEFA Cup. In 1988 the team fell back to the Second Division for a short while, but thanks to the promotion play-offs, they were able to return to First Division after one season.[11] A crucial role was played by a member of the Board of Directors, Marc Mortier, who consulted the Prime Minister of Belgium, Wilfried Martens, in order to establish an organisation named Foot Invest, to get the team financially back on track. Marc Mortier gathered more than 50 million Belgian francs (1.25 million euros) in sponsoring in a couple of months and introduced VDK Spaarbank as the main sponsor of the team.

During a 2010 game against SV Zulte Waregem

In 1990–91, the team played at the top of the standings for a long time, under the guidance of René Vandereycken and players such as Frank Dauwen, Eric Viscaal and Erwin Vandenbergh, but finally it ended on the third spot. So instead of competing in the UEFA Champions League, the team played in the UEFA Cup in 1991. After defeating Lausanne Sports, Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Dynamo Moscow, Ghent played the quarter finals against AFC Ajax.[12] The following years, Ghent fell back to the lower places in the standings. From 1994 until 1997, they finished just above the relegation places in the league.[13] By the end of the 1990s the results improved again, and with coach Trond Sollied, KAA Gent qualified for European football once more in 1999–2000.[14] In these series, Ghent lost heavily against Ajax, under new coach Henk Houwaart. The next season, Ghent reached the UEFA Intertoto Cup, where it would reach the semi-finals against PSG. The following seasons, league results varied between lower sub-top places and top four finishes.[15]

In 2004, Ghent signed coach Georges Leekens. In his first season, the team ended at the sixth spot in competition. With Leekens as a coach, KAA Gent made some impressive performances, such as the 4–1 victory over rival Club Brugge on 1 April 2006. In 2006–07, despite a weak start of the competition, the team managed to reach the fourth place in the Belgian Pro League. It repeated that achievement the following year.[16]

The next season, coach Georges Leekens left the club and joined Sporting Lokeren. Trond Sollied, the Norwegian trainer who had been very successful seven years before, succeeded him. Under his guidance, KAA Gent played its third Cup Final, in which it only lost at the end from RSC Anderlecht. Sollied left Ghent again after one season, this time for SC Heerenveen.[17] Michel Preud'homme, who had just become champion of the Jupiler Pro League with Standard de Liège, signed a contract for three seasons, together with his colleagues Manu Ferrera and Stan Van Den Buys. In 2008–09, the team ended at the fourth spot, after a strong comeback in the second part of the competition, with an equal number of points as Club Brugge, who had won one more game and ended third.[18]

In 2009–10, there was a heavy battle for the second place in the Belgian Pro League between AA Gent and Club Brugge and the Champions League ticket that came with it. They played each other on 8 May 2010. Ghent won with a convincing 6–2 score and won second place because of that victory.[19] One week later, Ghent also won the Belgian Cup for the first time in 26 years, defeating the other Bruges Pro League team, Cercle Brugge.[20]

On 17 July 2013, the club officially inaugurated their new stadium, the Ghelamco Arena, with a 2–0 win over VfB Stuttgart in a gala match.[21]

On 21 May 2015, Ghent clinched their first ever Belgium League title by defeating Standard 2–0 at home, automatically qualifying for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.[22]


European record[edit]

Competition GP W D L GF GA
European Cup / UEFA Champions League 2 0 0 2 1 6
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 4 1 1 2 2 6
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League 34 14 6 14 36 60


  • 1R: First round
  • 2R: Second round
  • 3R: Third round
  • QR: Qualifying round
  • 2Q: Second qualifying round
  • 3Q: Third qualifying round
  • PO: Play-off round
  • QF: Quarter-finals

Current squad[edit]

As of 22 August 2015.[23]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Belgium GK Matz Sels
3 Serbia DF Uroš Vitas
4 Brazil DF Rafinha
5 Sweden DF Erik Johansson
7 Mali FW Kalifa Coulibaly
8 Belgium MF Thomas Matton
9 Belgium FW Laurent Depoitre
10 Brazil MF Renato Neto
11 Morocco DF Mustapha Oussalah
12 Serbia MF Marko Poletanović
13 Serbia DF Stefan Mitrović (on loan from Freiburg)
14 Belgium MF Sven Kums (Captain)
15 Israel MF Kenny Hasan Sayef
16 Israel DF Hatem Abd Elhamed
17 Belgium MF Hannes van der Bruggen
No. Position Player
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina MF Haris Hajradinović
19 Belgium MF Brecht Dejaegere
21 Ghana DF Nana Asare
22 Cameroon FW Serge Tabekou
23 Denmark DF Lasse Nielsen
25 Belgium GK Brian Vandenbussche
26 Belgium FW Benito Raman
27 Nigeria FW Moses Simon
28 Denmark FW Nicklas Pedersen
32 Belgium FW Thomas Foket
55 Israel DF Rami Gershon
70 Ivory Coast FW Yaya Soumahoro
77 Switzerland MF Danijel Miličević
Belgium GK Yannick Thoelen

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Nigeria DF William Troost-Ekong (at Haugesund)
Albania MF Enis Gavazaj (at Roeselare)
Belgium MF Jari Vandeputte (at Eindhoven)
Bosnia and Herzegovina MF Nermin Zolotić (at NK Istra 1961)
French Guiana FW Sloan Privat (at Guingamp)
Zambia FW Rodgers Kola (at Veria)
Belgium MF David Hubert (at Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz)

For recent transfers, see List of Belgian football transfers summer 2014.

Technical staff & management[edit]

Name Position
Hein Vanhaezebrouck Belgium Manager T1
Rudi Cossey Belgium Assistant Manager T2
Bernd Thijs Belgium Assistant Manager T3
Franky Vandendriessche Belgium Goalkeeper Coach
Stijn Matthys Belgium Physical Coach
Gunther Schepens Belgium Technical coordinator
Ivan De Witte Belgium Chairman
Michel Louwagie Belgium Managing Director
Gunther Schepens Belgium Technical coordinnator
Manu Ferrera Belgium Youth director
Gilbert De Groote Belgium Scouting director
Patrick Lips Belgium Commercial director
Sébastien Ronse Belgium Juridical & Administration Director
Luc Adriaensens Belgium Financial Director
Dirk Piens Belgium Organisational Director & Safety Officer
Wim Beelaert Belgium Community manager
Xavier Louwagie Belgium Communication Manager
Marc Van Lysebetten Belgium Press Officer

Well known former players of the team[edit]

Four players of AA Gent were top scorer in the competition: Maurice Willems (1956–57, 28 games, 35 goals), Ronny Martens (1984–85, 34 games, 23 goals), Erwin Vandenbergh (1990–91, 34 games, 23 goals) and Ole Martin Arst (1999–2000, 33 games, 30 goals).

The Belgian player Roland Storme, central defender of KAA Gent in 1958/59, received the Gouden Schoen. During several ceremonies of awards, some players of Gent were also honoured. René Vandereycken got the award of trainer of the year 1991. Frédéric Herpoel was chosen as the best goalkeeper in 2004. 2006, Mbark Boussoufa received many awards: pro-player of the year, best young player and the award of the 12th man.

In the same year, Mbark Boussoufa also won the Ebony Shoe (awarded to the best African player who developes his career in Belgium). He was preceded by another player of Gent 8 years before: the Egyptian Ahmed Hossam, better known as Mido, in 2001.

The player of Gent who made the most goals was Maurice Willems who scored 185 goals between 1952 and 1962..

Armand Seghers holds the record of the most games played in the first team of KAA Gent: 507 between 1949 and 1960.

Marc Van Der Linden was in the national selection of Belgium for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

The player of KAA Gent who holds the record with the most selections for the national team of Belgium is Richard Orlans with 21 selections between 1955 and 1958.

The supporters federation organises since 1979 also an enquiry to choose the most valuable player of the season. This price is called the Jean-Claude Bouvy-price, called after the young Belgian-Congolese midfielder who died in 1986 due to a car accident. The player who won the most awards (as best goalkeeper of the year) was Frédéric Herpoel, who won the award four times between 2002 and 2005.

Tore André Dahlum was a Norwegian international who played one year in Ghent.

Kevin De Bruyne is a Belgium international and Manchester City player who spent six years at Gent during his youth career.

Coaching history[edit]



Years President
1901 Hector Priem
1902–08 Adolphe Dangotte
1908–12 Adolf Gaeremijnck
1912 Hector Priem
1912–13 Jacques Feyerick
1913–29 Pierre Van Bleyenberghe
1929–39 Adrien Stassart
1939–64 Achiel Delongie
1964–67 René Hoste
1967–76 Freddy Mastelinck
1976–85 Albert De Meester
1985–88 Robert Naudts
1988–99 Jean Van Milders
1999–present Ivan De Witte


  1. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 1: The Pioneers". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 10–25. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  2. ^ "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 2: The end of the golden years". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). p. 14. 
  6. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 3: To fall and rise with youthful talent". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 21–31. 
  7. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 4: Shot at title ends in... second division". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 38–49. 
  8. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 6: Travel to Hell". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 73–88. 
  9. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 8: After Hell and Purgatory... finally Heaven!". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 117–139. 
  10. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 9: Three phenomenal seasons". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 140–171. 
  11. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 7: The post De Meester era". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 134–147. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  12. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: The Vandereycken boys". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 148–171. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  13. ^ Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 13: The demise of a rich football tradition". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 235–253. 
  14. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 10: About bombers and rubble removal". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 186–209. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  15. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 11: The transition years". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 210–229. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  16. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 12: Georges Leekens". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 230–251. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  17. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: Trond Sollied is back in town!". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 252–267. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  18. ^ Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: Michel Preud'homme: a worthy ambassador of the club". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 269–272. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5. 
  19. ^ "KAA Gent 6–2 Club Bruges: match report". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Cercle Bruges 0–3 KAA Gent: match report". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "KAA Gent opent Ghelamco Arena met zege tegen Stuttgart" [KAA Gent opens Ghelamco Arena with victory against Stuttgart] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Champions League 2015-16: team by team guide to the group stage". Guardian. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "KAA Gent current squad (2014–2015)". Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "Beknopte geschiedenis van KAA Gent". Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007. 

External links[edit]