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! colspan="3" | Men's Football
! colspan="3" | Olympic Games
|Gold medal – first place|| 1920 Antwerp || Team
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The Belgian national football team[C] has 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), the national squad is affiliated to both international football organisations. Since 1906, the side has been colloquially referred to as The Red Devils.[D] The majority of their home matches are held at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
Periods of regular Belgian representation at the highest international level, before 1940 and from 1970 until 2002, were interspersed with major difficulties to qualify. 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 champions—West Germany, Brazil, Argentina and France.
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 RBFA awards a Medal of Recognition to every international footballer who appeared 35 times for Belgium.[E] 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.
Early years (1901–19)
Belgium was the first mainland European country to play association football, after the sport was introduced from Great Britain or Ireland in 1860. Over the following decades, it supplanted rugby as the most popular national football sport; the first league in Belgian football was held in 1896. On 11 October 1900, Beerschot Athletic Club president of honour Jorge Díaz announced that Belgium would host a series of challenge matches in Antwerp, taking on Europe's best football teams. After some organisational difficulties, a first tournament (Challenge F. Vanden Abeele) was played between a Belgian A-selection and a Dutch B-team on 28 April 1901. This class difference was translated into a flagrant 8–0 win for the former, and team Belgium also won three follow-up games (1–0, 2–1, 6–4). However, these results were not recognised by FIFA since the Belgian team contained some English players.
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. At that time, the Belgian squad was chosen by a committee of representatives from the country's six or seven main clubs.
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. For decades, Belgian-Dutch cup trophies would be awarded in the "Low Countries derby".
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. 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"). 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". Football was suspended during the First World War, with no national games hosted or played between 1915 and 1918; regrettably, Six died in a bombardment at age 24.
Debuts at major tournaments (1920–78)
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. 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. Strikers Bernard Voorhoof and Ray Braine were among the most talented Belgian players in the 1920s–1930s era.
International football tournaments were suspended in the 1940s following the outbreak of World War II. A number of gifted players also left the team between 1948 and 1954, including attackers Jef Mermans, Pol Anoul and Rik Coppens, and centre back Louis Carré. 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. 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 played a key role in the 1970–72 revival. In the early 1970s Goethals trained another 'Belgian' senior selection that consisted of the best players in the Belgian First Division, but like in 1901 it was no proper national team as foreigners were included as well. In 1973, the denial of a legal goal in their ultimate qualifier cost Belgium their 1974 FIFA World Cup ticket. 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, a defensive tactic developed in the 1960s by Anderlecht coach Pierre Sinibaldi.
'Golden generation' (1979–2002)
Belgium's most successful period started when they finished second in the UEFA Euro 1980. The 1980s and early 1990s are generally considered the first golden age of the national team. Under the leadership of Guy Thys, who coached more than 100 official games, they established a reputation of being a physical, well-organised team that was difficult to play against.
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 play-off rounds again to qualify for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
After the Euro 1980 final (where they finished second), 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, alongside talents as right-back Eric Gerets, playmaker Enzo Scifo and strikers Luc Nilis and Erwin Vandenbergh. 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, with Aimé Anthuenis superseding him.
Setbacks and new hope (2003–11)
From 2003 on, 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, 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. His assistant Franky Vercauteren would take over ad interim.
File:U-23 Bel 2008.png
Belgium's under-23 at the 2008 Olympics placed fourth and delivered 17 players to the senior national team.
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, 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, caretaker Vercauteren resigned and made way for new coach Dick Advocaat. However, after only six months at the helm, Advocaat also resigned amid—justified—speculation that he was to become coach of Russia. Georges Leekens was hired as his successor in May 2010, signing a contract until 2012. Under Leekens, the Red Devils narrowly missed the Euro 2012 play-offs.
New 'golden generation' (2012–present)
Leekens left in May 2012 and signed for Club Brugge. After two matches the RBFA asked caretaker Marc Wilmots (assistant manager since 2009) to fully replace Leekens and under his reign, the team improved, rising to a then-high of fifth on the FIFA World Rankings in October 2013. By 2013, several foreign media regarded this Belgian national side during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as a new golden generation. 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. 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 third in April 2015.
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.
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 sports commentator with his emotional and humorous match reports. 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. The Belgian broadcasting right holders for the Euro 2016 qualifiers are VRT, RTBF and cable broadband providers BeTV and Telenet. The 8th final against the United States at the 2014 World Cup is the most-watched television program in Belgian history, with a total audience of over four million viewers out of 11.2 million Belgian citizens.
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"), while Telenet brought out an eight-piece documentary about individual players, Rode Helden ("Red Heroes").
- Actions for the fans: During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, a string of interactive actions was organised: the so-called Devil Challenges. 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. In June 2013 the Red Devils welcomed over 20,000 supporters at their first ever Fan Day; a second edition was held after the 2014 World Cup. 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) took place in the cities of Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi.
- Charity support: An unofficial match against Netherlands in 1926 served exclusively as fundraiser for benefactions. 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. 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.
- Anti-racism campaigns: In 2002, the national squad posed with anti-racist slogans, and in 2010 a home Euro 2012 qualifier stood in the theme of "Respect for diversity". This action was supported by the UEFA and made part of the European 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.
Cycling is the traditional national sport of Belgium, but soccer is the most popular.
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 a major tournament had just been won. Contrary to the Scottish "Tartan Army" and the Danish "Roligans" the supporters of the Belgian national team do not carry a nickname yet. But, in 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, the federation counted over 24,000 members.
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". 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, and even showing up as only supporter in Armenia in 2009.
In 2008, hope surged when a young (U-23) Belgian team 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. 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) 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, while facets of the Atomium's upper sphere were covered in black, yellow and red.
Aside of sharing the passion through supporters' clubs and social networking webpages, and encouraging the national team through the sale of numerous supporters' items, other products have also been dedicated to the Red Devils. These include books (see Bibliography and Further reading), a film, comic books and songs. Regardless of commercial purpose, they all share either a look forward to an upcoming major tournament, or a look back to past experiences.
- Films: In 2005 Buitenspel came out, a picture about a 12-year-old Belgian boy whose dream is to become a member of the national squad. This Belgian film is a remake of the 2004 Dutch picture In Oranje.
- Comics: Comics have a long tradition in Belgium and a couple of series are world-famous, such as The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign a first national team series started, titled de Rode Duivels / les Diables Rouges and counting at least three albums. Before this, two individual comic books have been published, related to the 1982 and 1998 World Cups.
- Songs: Since 1970, several Belgian artists have been creating simple, enthusiast songs for the occasion of upcoming World Cups or European Championships. These tunes have not always been official or permitted by the RBFA. The official song for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, Ta fête, was composed by Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae.
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. In 2012, the Red Devils adopted a red trident as new logo.
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. Only at Belgium's third unofficial match in 1902, it was decided to dress the players in a "shirt with national colours (...) [that will indicate,] with a stripe, the number of times every player has participated in an encounter". 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"), Belgium switched back to entirely red home jerseys.
The away kits have usually been designed in white and/or black, often finished 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. This colour pattern was systematically used in the remainder of the 1970s; hence the temporary nickname White Devils. Only in 2014 a third kit was inaugurated, entirely in yellow.
Since their first World Cup participations in the 1930s, at the heart position of the shirt a yellow lion on a black shield was depicted, derived from the Belgian coat of arms. From the 1980s on, the association badge replaced the lion crest as national emblem.
- 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:
* 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:
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.
The national football stadium at the Heysel Plateau in 1935 (left) and in 2013
Throughout their history, Belgium have played at 23 home locations in 11 urban areas. 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. 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, over 70,000 spectators could enter the immense bowl. 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. 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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. They also won the three unofficial follow-up games. 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.[F] Not only did the Low Countries meet 18 times in the framework of major tournaments, they also played at least 35 friendly cup duels. 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, and more recently at the international level the federations organised Euro 2000 and made an unfruitful bid to host the 2018 World Cup. At club level in women's football, the top teams from both footballing nations even played together in the BeNe League between 2012 and 2015.
- 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 countries on the entire European continent. 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 72 matches.[G] The overall Franco-Belgian balance is in favour of the Red Devils who won 29 times, while Les Bleus celebrated 24 victories.
A crew of over 20 people professionally surrounds the player group, including the following members:
Marc Wilmots (left) and his assistant Vital Borkelmans
||Herman De Landtsheer
||Kris Van Crombrugge|
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.
Caps, goals and player numbers are correct as of 31 March 2015 after the game against Israel. Only FIFA-recognised matches are included.[H]
The following (ex-)players have been selected for Belgium in the past 12 months, but are not part of the current squad.
||Date of birth (age)
11 August 1985
||23x15px Zulte Waregem
||2014 FIFA World Cup
||Koen Casteels INJ
25 June 1992
||23x15px Werder Bremen
||2014 FIFA World Cup [I]
23 October 1992
||23x15px Anorthosis Famagusta
||v 23x15px Sweden, 1 June 2014
||Vincent Kompany SUS (captain)
10 April 1986
||23x15px Manchester City
||v Template:Country data ISR, 31 March 2015
5 August 1985
||23x15px Montreal Impact
||v Template:Country data ISR, 31 March 2015
||Laurens De Bock INJ
7 November 1992
||23x15px Club Brugge
||v 23x15px Cyprus, 28 March 2015
||Jelle Van Damme
10 October 1983
||23x15px Standard Liège
||v Template:Country data ISL, 12 November 2014
1 August 1987
||23x15px West Bromwich Albion
||v Template:Country data ISL, 12 November 2014
9 March 1984
||v 23x15px Australia, 4 September 2014
25 July 1994
||v 23x15px Australia, 4 September 2014
||Daniel Van Buyten RET
7 February 1978
||2014 FIFA World Cup
||Thomas Vermaelen (vice-captain)
14 November 1985
||2014 FIFA World Cup
||Steven Defour INJ
15 April 1988
||v 23x15px Cyprus, 28 March 2015
14 May 1994
||v 23x15px Wales, 16 November 2014
29 March 1993
||23x15px Borussia Mönchengladbach
||v 23x15px Australia, 4 September 2014
2 October 1993
||v Template:Country data ISR, 31 March 2015
5 February 1995
||23x15px Manchester United
||v 23x15px Wales, 16 November 2014
- INJ = Withdrew because of injury
- RET = Retired from international football
- SUS = Not selected due to suspension
Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
All matches scheduled after the 2014 FIFA World Cup are listed below. Earlier results can be consulted via the summarizing results page.
Current campaign standings
- Euro 2016 qualifying Group B
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- See also the record by opponent.
FIFA World Cup
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) and in 1970 they achieved their first World Cup win, against El Salvador (3–0).
From 1982 through 2002, Belgium reached six successive World Cups by playing qualification rounds, and advanced to the second phase five times. In the first game of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, 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 Belgium surprisingly won against favourites Soviet Union after extra time (3–4). 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, but eventually lost in the final minute of extra time after a "nearly blind" volley by David Platt. 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, Brazil won by 2–0.
In 2014, Belgium beat all group opponents with the smallest margin. Thereafter, they played a highly entertaining round of 16 match against the United States in which American goalkeeper Tim Howard made 15 saves[K] but the dominant Red Devils won in extra time (2–1). In a balanced quarter-final, Argentina eliminated Belgium by 1–0.
Champions Runners-up Third place Fourth place
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, 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
The Belgian team participated in all three editions of the Summer Olympics 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. These protests were dismissed and the Czechoslovaks got disqualified; the 2–0 score was allowed to stand and Belgium received the gold medal. The key player of the victorious Olympic Red Devils was Coppée, who also scored a hat-trick in the match against Spain.
Remark: only in six Summer Olympics editions between 1908 and 1936, football tournaments for proper senior men's national football teams took place. In 1900 a Belgian representation of Université de Bruxelles won bronze, and in 2008 Belgium's U-23 selection placed fourth, but their results are not shown here. Olympic Summer Games editions where no actual national football teams competed are indicated in italics.
Gold Silver Bronze
- Belgium vs. Netherlands Cups
|Belgium-Netherlands Cup Record
|23x15px 1905–25 Challenge F. Vanden Abeele
|23x15px 1905–32 Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad-beker
Winners Runners-up Third place
- Major tournaments
- 20px FIFA World Cup
- Fourth place (1): 1986
- 15px UEFA European Championship
- Runners-up 15px (1): 1980
- Third place 15px (1): 1972
- 20px Olympic football tournament
- Gold Medal 15px (1): 1920
For minor titles and other accolades: see the records page, section "Awards".
The Belgian football team has been under the supervision of 23 different permanent managers and two caretakers since 1910. Before 1910 and in 1919, a committee of the RBFA presided by Édouard de Laveleye selected the players. Initially supervised by foreigners, it would take until 1930 for team Belgium to be officially led by a Belgian (Hector Goetinck).
As of April 2015, coach Marc Wilmots is the most successful (permanent) manager that Belgium has ever had in statistical terms, with an average of 2.21 points per match. The coach that brought Belgium most successes at international tournament end stages was 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. In 1986, magazine World Soccer proclaimed Thys Manager of the Year.
- Last updated: Israel vs. Belgium, 31 March 2015. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.
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. At least 15 pure forwards and eight goalkeepers have fulfilled this role but most often Red Devils in defensive positions and midfielders were assigned as captain, as is usually the case in association football. Until 2011 under Dick Advocaat and Georges Leekens the former Belgium U-23 captain Thomas Vermaelen was chosen as national squad's leader, but during an injury period he left the captaincy to Vincent Kompany, who became the new permanent captain.
All-time captain list
The following (hidden) table shows which Belgian footballers started international games as captain, and during which period. Players that received the captain's armband because of a substitution or expulsion during a match are not counted.
List of captains of the Belgium national football team
Players still active for Belgium are highlighted
- Last updated: Israel vs. Belgium, 31 March 2015. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.
- Belgium's biggest wins were against San Marino (10–1) and Zambia (9–0). Their longest chain of victories is seven wins (in two periods) and their unbeaten record is 14 official games in a row.[H]
- The Red Devil with most caps is Jan Ceulemans, who featured in the national team 96 times (8256 minutes played); the player with the longest career span is Hector Goetinck (17 years, 6 months and 10 days).
- 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 hat-trick record (3).
- Apart from having gathered most caps, 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 third (in April–May 2015); Belgium's all-time high on the long-term World Football Elo Ratings was second (from 2 till 5 September 1920).
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Dutch: Belgisch nationaal voetbalelftal
French: Équipe nationale belge de football
German: Belgische Fußballnationalmannschaft
- ^ Dutch: De Rode Duivels
French: Les Diables Rouges
German: Die Roten Teufel
- ^ The medal is also awarded to players with 20 caps whose careers ended after an injury.
- ^ as of 2014
- ^ as of 2014
- ^ a b c d 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.
- ^ Withdrew due to injury on 3 June 2014
- ^ If neither country participates in the UEFA Euro 2016 play-offs
- ^ 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.
- ^ UEFA preferred the joint bid from Belgium and the Netherlands to the individual bids of Spain and Austria.
- ^ According to the "three points for a win" standard
- ^ Even though William Maxwell was the official manager then, in the tournament Raoul Daufresne coached the squad.
- ^ Belgium withdrew from the qualifiers.
- ^ Manager Vanden Stock only selected the players; under him, the Red Devils were consecutively trained by Viktor Havlicek (1958–60), Henri Dekens (1960–61), Arthur Ceuleers (1961–65) and Raymond Goethals (1966–68).
- ^ Belgium did not enter the qualifiers.
- ^ During a 2001 friendly draw against Czech Republic, assistants Vince Briganti and Jacky Munaron managed the team as Waseige recovered from cardiac bypass surgery.
- ^ 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.
- ^ a b janm (6 Jun 2012). "Marc Wilmots is nieuwe bondscoach tot 2014". De Standaard (in Nederlands).
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- ^ a b c "World Football Elo Ratings: Belgium". World Football Elo Ratings web site and Advanced Satellite Consulting. Retrieved 18 Aug 2013.
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- ^ See:
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- ^ Vandewalle, Ludo; De Vos, Gunther; V., Ki. (3 May 2010). "Georges Leekens dan toch bondscoach". Het Nieuwsblad (in Nederlands).
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- ^ "Advocaat laat Rode Duivels doodziek achter" (in Nederlands). belgiumsoccer.be. 15 Apr 2010.
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- ^ "De Rode Duivels zien vanavond hun eerste tifo" (in Nederlands). Sporza. 6 Jun 2013.
- ^ "Manneken Pis in WK-shirt Rode Duivels". De Standaard (in Nederlands). 7 Mar 2014. Retrieved 22 Mar 2014.
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- ^ "Buitenspel (2005)". IMDB. Retrieved 11 Jul 2013.
- ^ "In Oranje (2004)". IMDB. Retrieved 11 Jul 2013.
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- ^ tmas (10 Apr 2013). "KBVB verbiedt liedjes over de Rode Duivels". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Nederlands).
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- ^ "Historical Football Kits". Historical Football Kits. Retrieved 14 Jul 2013.
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- ^ "New Adidas Belgium 2014-15 Kits Released". Footy Headlines. 14 August 2014.
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