Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

Soccer City: Brussels – at the heart of Europe, but not football

BRUSSELS, of course, is at the heart of any discussion around Brexit. It has become a reference point and scapegoat for decades for those wishing to blame the European Union for everything from the shape of carrots to the number of foreign footballers in Britain. From a sporting perspective, Brussels has long since moved off the radar as a major footballing hub, although it spurned … Continue reading Soccer City: Brussels – at the heart of Europe, but not football

Great Reputations: Anderlecht mid-1970s, trusting in purple

BELGIAN teams never made much of an impact in Europe in the early years of UEFA’s club competitions, the country was largely seen as an also-ran when it came to football. Teams like Anderlecht and Antwerp sustained very heavy blows in the first European Cup tournaments, often suffering double figure aggregate defeats. But the dynamic across the continent began to change in the 1960s and … Continue reading Great Reputations: Anderlecht mid-1970s, trusting in purple

Week Three: Going home, coming home

AND then there were four. Two good teams, two sides that got a bit lucky, managed their tournament well and worked their way through. If it turns out to be Belgium v England, then the Premier League’s grandees will be making merry, for it will be two teams of Premier players fighting it out for the game’s greatest prize. There’s been a lot of nonsense … Continue reading Week Three: Going home, coming home

At number 10, Hubris, that super-confident hero of our time

BOLD statements about a team’s potential are often made in the months leading up to World Cups. It is a time when normally grounded and stable individuals often make ridiculous claims about football teams. Remember the over-used term “golden generation”? It’s no longer fashionable or wise to use such words to describe a football team, because the margin between success and failure in the game … Continue reading At number 10, Hubris, that super-confident hero of our time

Europe’s giants of all sizes, Part 1

AS we head towards the inevitable European super league, the rest of the continent’s clubs must be wondering what lies in store for those that find themselves excluded from the great gravy train that will emerge from a future shake-up of football. It would be easy for onlookers to only see a landscape that is dominated by Barca, Bayern, Real and PSG, but across Europe, … Continue reading Europe’s giants of all sizes, Part 1

Standard Liege triumph in Belgium’s early cup final

CELEBRATIONS over Standard Liege’s Belgian Cup triumph may have been put into perspective by the terrorism in Brussels on Tuesday morning, but the club’s 2-1 win against favourites Club Brugge deserves to be mentioned. The Belgian national team postponed training on the day that the capital city was left stunned by bombing incidents. “Football is not important today,” said the Belgian Football Federation. On Sunday, … Continue reading Standard Liege triumph in Belgium’s early cup final

Now I’m a Union man, amazed at what I am *

It may be the third tier of Belgian football, but anyone who values the heritage of the game and wants to see something more than the homogenous global product that football has become, then a trip to Union St. Gilloise, in the Brussels suburb of Forest, is a joy to behold. I was told that Union and its ground were unique in today’s footballing world, … Continue reading Now I’m a Union man, amazed at what I am *

Calling in on…KV Oostende, life without red devils

Ostend is only just over an hour from Brussels by train, but to most British people, it is a ferry port. It is also home to a statue of Marvin Gaye, which may seem somewhat bizarre to the casual onlooker. In fact, you might be tempted to use the title of one of Gaye’s biggest albums, “What’s going on?”. Gaye spent part of his life … Continue reading Calling in on…KV Oostende, life without red devils

Anderlecht and who else? – football in Brussels

Supper in the Grand Place, Brussels. The centre is covered in begonias, tourists gawp at the flowers, a band plays and over in the corner, youngsters are piling into a night club/bar called Good Kompany. Yes, it belongs to Vincent Kompany, Belgium’s captain and the Manchester City icon. I pick up a newspaper, look at the back page and I see a huge photo of … Continue reading Anderlecht and who else? – football in Brussels

World Cup 2014: Beware the locust

In the Bible, the locust is a symbol of bad luck or punishment, or so they say. Was the appearance of a huge cartoon-like locust on James Rodriguez’s shoulder a sign that good fortune was about to run out on the host nation? With Thiago Silva and Neymar now sidelined, it would seem that Brazil have been deprived of their two key players at a … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Beware the locust

World Cup 2014: Belgium – Muscles in Brussels or over-hyped?

A few years ago, a business colleague in Brussels wanted to tell me all about Belgium and its lack of success as a sporting nation. Shutting his office door and looking around as if he was about to impart official secrets, he whispered: “The big problem here is that one half of the country doesn’t talk to the other half. It’s mutual hate. This place … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Belgium – Muscles in Brussels or over-hyped?