Royal Antwerp F.C.

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Royal Antwerp Football Club logo.svg
Full nameRoyal Antwerp Football Club
Nickname(s)The Great Old, The Reds
Founded1880; 142 years ago (1880)
Antwerp, Belgium
ManagerBrian Priske
LeagueBelgian First Division A
2020–21Belgian First Division A, 3rd
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Royal Antwerp Football Club, often referred to as Royal Antwerp or simply Antwerp, is a Belgian football club based in the city of Antwerp. Founded around 1880 as Antwerp Cricket Club by English students residing in Antwerp, 15 years before the creation of the Royal Belgian Football Association, Antwerp is regarded as the oldest club in Belgium.[2] At first there was no organised football played by its members, until 1887 when the football division was founded with an own board, named Antwerp Football Club. Being the oldest active club at the time, it was the first club to register to the Association in 1895. Consequently, when matriculation numbers were introduced in 1926, the club received matriculate number one.[3][4]


Over the course of the club's history, Royal Antwerp have won four Belgian league titles as well as three Belgian Cups. In 1900, most of the players left the club for the new neighbouring club of K. Beerschot V.A.C., and this was the start of a long rivalry between both clubs.

The club is the most recent Belgian team to have reached a UEFA competition final, the 1993 European Cup Winners' Cup Final, where they lost 3–1 against Parma at Wembley Stadium.[5]

Royal Antwerp had a long-term partnership with the English club Manchester United, taking their young players on loan so that their development can be aided with first team football, and young players who require European work-permits can benefit from Belgium's more relaxed laws.[6] An example is Dong Fangzhuo, who was unable to play for United immediately due to work permit problems and was loaned to allow him to gain first team experience.

Despite being one of Belgium's best-supported clubs, Antwerp have been under-achievers for several years. They have not won a league title since 1957, and have spent several seasons in the second division. They were promoted to the top flight in 2000, only to be relegated in short order in 2004. They returned to the first division after 13 years in 2017.[7]

In August 2020, the Great Old won their first major trophy in nearly 30 years when they upset league champions Club Brugge in the final of the Belgian Cup.[8]


Royal Antwerp have played their home matches at the Bosuilstadion since 1923.[9]


Royal Antwerp share a fierce rivalry with city neighbours Beerschot A.C. (now K Beerschot VA). Although in the 2000s-2010s the two clubs have met sparingly, when they do, there is usually fan violence.[10] Royal Antwerp are often seen as a culture club with a diverse, cross-class support across the city while Beerschot have either heavily working class or upper class support, locally based in South Antwerp.[11] Beerschot supporters often refer to RAFC fans as "joden" or "Jews" due to the fact that to get to Antwerp's stadium they must pass through the Jewish district, while Great Old supporters refer to Beerschot followers as "the rats".

Royal Antwerp vs K Beerschot VAC K Beershot VAC vs Royal Antwerp
Season Division Date Venue Score Attendance Date Venue Score Attendance
1976-77 First Division 28 November 1976 Bosuilstadion 2 – 1 26 November 1977 Olympisch Stadion 2 – 0
1977-78 First Division 15 April 1978 Bosuilstadion 0 – 0 26 November 1977 Olympisch Stadion 4 – 2
1978-79 First Division 10 December 1978 Bosuilstadion 2 – 2 20 May 1979 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 3
1979-80 First Division 20 January 1980 Bosuilstadion 1 – 1 15 September 1979 Olympisch Stadion 1 – 1
1980-81 First Division 5 October 1980 Bosuilstadion 3 – 2 13 February 1981 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 1
1982-83 First Division 28 November 1982 Bosuilstadion 2 – 1 9 April 1983 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 1
1983-84 First Division 15 October 1983 Bosuilstadion 0 – 1 18 February 1984 Olympisch Stadion 1 – 4
1984-85 First Division 17 April 1985 Bosuilstadion 3 – 1 8 September 1984 Olympisch Stadion 2 – 0
1985-86 First Division 20 October 1985 Bosuilstadion 2 – 2 15 March 1986 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 0
1986-87 First Division 15 February 1987 Bosuilstadion 1 – 1 13 September 1986 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 0
1987-88 First Division 4 October 1987 Bosuilstadion 2 – 1 19 March 1988 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 2
1988-89 First Division 25 February 1989 Bosuilstadion 4 – 1 2 September 1988 Olympisch Stadion 5 – 1
1989-90 First Division 17 February 1990 Bosuilstadion 4 – 0 16 September 1989 Olympisch Stadion 1 – 1
1990-91 First Division 7 October 1990 Bosuilstadion 3 – 0 23 March 1991 Olympisch Stadion 1 – 2
Royal Antwerp vs K Beerschot VA K Beershot VA vs Royal Antwerp
Season Division Date Venue Score Attendance Date Venue Score Attendance
2017-18 Europa League playoff 15 April 2018 Bosuilstadion 2 – 0 14,194 29 April 2018 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 0 8,600
2020-21 First Division A 25 October 2020 Bosuilstadion 3 – 2 0 7 February 2021 Olympisch Stadion 1 – 2 0
2021-22 First Division A Bosuilstadion 2 – 1 16,144 5 December 2021 Olympisch Stadion 0 – 1 11,000

RAFC also have developed a long-standing rivalry with Club Brugge.[12] They also have a local rivalry with KV Mechelen, although there is mutual respect due to a shared hatred of Beerschot.[13]

Meuse/Scheldt Cup[edit]

The best football players of Antwerp and Rotterdam contested a yearly match between 1909 and 1959 for the Meuse- and Scheldt Cup (Maas- en Schelde Beker). It was agreed to play the game at Antwerp's stadium De Bosuil in Belgium and at Sparta Rotterdam's Het Kasteel stadium in the Netherlands. The cup was provided in 1909 by P. Havenith from Antwerp and Kees van Hasselt from Rotterdam.



Belgian First Division

Belgian Second Division

Belgian Cup

  • Winners: 1954–55, 1991–92, 2019–20
  • Runners-up: 1974–75

Belgian Super Cup

  • Runners-up: 1992


Challenge International du Nord[edit]

  • Winners: 1902, 1906

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

Runners-up: 1992–93


Current squad[edit]

As of 11 March 2022

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK France FRA Jean Butez
2 DF Belgium BEL Ritchie De Laet
3 DF Belgium BEL Björn Engels
4 MF Belgium BEL Radja Nainggolan
5 DF Portugal POR Aurélio Buta
6 MF Belgium BEL Birger Verstraete
7 FW Denmark DEN Viktor Fischer
8 MF Nigeria NGA Alhassan Yusuf
9 FW Germany GER Johannes Eggestein
10 FW Belgium BEL Michel-Ange Balikwisha
11 MF Democratic Republic of the Congo COD Nill De Pauw
12 DF Democratic Republic of the Congo COD Luete Ava Dongo
14 FW Belgium BEL Manuel Benson
16 MF Belgium BEL Pieter Gerkens
18 DF France FRA Yassine Ben Hamed
19 FW Japan JPN Koji Miyoshi
21 DF United States USA Sam Vines
22 FW Angola ANG Bruny Nsimba
No. Pos. Nation Player
23 FW Ghana GHA Opoku Ampomah (on loan from Fortuna Düsseldorf)
24 DF Belgium BEL Dorian Dessoleil
26 GK Belgium BEL Ortwin De Wolf
27 MF Morocco MAR Abderahmane Soussi
30 DF Senegal SEN Abdoulaye Seck
32 DF Belgium BEL Zeno Van Den Bosch
34 DF Belgium BEL Jelle Bataille
38 MF Belgium BEL Faris Haroun (captain)
43 MF Belgium BEL Sander Coopman
44 FW Netherlands NED Emanuel Emegha
51 DF Ecuador ECU William Pacho
61 DF Portugal POR Dinis Almeida
70 FW Tanzania TAN Mbwana Samatta (on loan from Fenerbahçe)
71 GK Croatia CRO Davor Matijaš
80 MF Belgium BEL Pierre Dwomoh
90 FW Canada CAN Jules-Anthony Vilsaint
99 FW Switzerland  SUI Michael Frey

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. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Iran IRN Alireza Beiranvand (at Boavista)
9 FW Republic of the Congo CGO Guy Mbenza (at Wydad Casablanca)
15 MF Cameroon CMR Frank Boya (at Zulte-Waregem)
18 MF Cameroon CMR Martin Hongla (at Hellas Verona)
No. Pos. Nation Player
25 MF Belgium BEL Alexis De Sart (at OH Leuven)
40 DF Nigeria NGA Junior Pius (at Sint-Truiden)
FW Cameroon CMR Didier Lamkel Zé (at Metz)

Technical staff[edit]

Position Name
Manager Denmark Brian Priske
Assistant coach Denmark Anders Nielsen
Assistant Manager Belgium Rudi Cossey
Goalkeeping Coach Denmark Peder Hansen
Fitness Coach Belgium Peter Catteeuw
Match Analyst Belgium Stephen Foyston
Physical Therapist Belgium Jan Vandenhouten
Technical Director Netherlands Marc Overmars

Former players[edit]

Manchester United Players loan partnership[edit]

This is a list of former players acquired on-loan via Manchester United's partnership with Royal Antwerp from 1998 to 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bosuil mag voortaan 16.144 supporters ontvangen GVA, 7 April 2018
  2. ^ "Blow for Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium's oldest football club". VRT. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  3. ^ "125 years football history". Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Wist je dat: de KBVB stamnummers uitvond?". Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Parma 3, Royal Antwerp 1". AP. 12 May 1993. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Manchester United's Royal Antwerp Loanees". Five Cantonas. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  7. ^ "New life breathed into the Great Old as Royal Antwerp return to top flight". Inside World Football. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Antwerp wins Belgian Cup as soccer resumes in Belgium". Washington Post. 1 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Stadiums & Pitches". Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  10. ^ "Politie 24/7: unieke blik achter de schermen van een gespannen Antwerpse derby". VRT. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  11. ^ "De derby der derby's: "Beerschot was voor het chique volk, Antwerp voor de arbeiders"". De Morgen. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  12. ^ "De rivaliteit tussen Club Brugge en Antwerp is enorm: wij gingen op zoek naar de oorzaak van die vete en kwamen in 1908 terecht". Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Malinwa vs. Great Old, de 'Antwerpse derby der gelijkgezinden'". Gazet van Antwerpen. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

External links[edit]