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Top 10 Belgium FIFA Ranking Football Players Of All Time

After a 12-year absence from major international tournaments, Belgium will return to the grandest stage when they arrive in Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Rarely will they have gone into a tournament with such optimism, either, with a golden generation that saw them climb to an all-time high of fifth in the FIFA World Cup rankings in October last year.

They do have some pedigree on the international stage already having finished fourth in the 1986 World Cup and as runners-up in the 1980 European Championships, kicking off what many regard to be their original golden generation.

10. Eric Gerets

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Eric Gerets was right at the heart of Belgian football’s purple patch in the 1980s, carving out a successful international career that saw him retire as the third most capped player in the country’s history. ‘The Lion’ played a key role in helping his side to the final of the 1980 European Championships before leading them to their best-ever World Cup finish six years later.

He also featured in the 1982 tournament, when Belgium beat reigning world champions Argentina, and in 1990, where his side were eliminated by a late David Platt wonder goal.

9. Raymond Braine

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Raymond Braine’s goalscoring exploits are stuff of legend in Belgium having netted a reported 141 goals in 142 games for Beerschot VAC before becoming the first professional player in the country’s history with a move to Sparta Prague.

There, he scored a further 120 goals in just 106 matches, winning two league championships and the Mitropa Cup before moving back to Beerschot, where he added a further two titles to the four he won before leaving.

8. Michel Preud’homme

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Few Belgian players can claim to have been the best in the world in their position during their career, but Michel Preud’homme was certainly amongst the upper echelon of goalkeepers at his peak. In a 22-year career that saw him make almost 200 appearances for each of his three clubs, he won three league titles, three domestic cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup.

He featured for Belgium in the 1990 World Cup, but it was four years later that the tournament saw the best of him as he became the inaugural winner of the Yashin award, given to the best goalkeeper in the competition.

7. Jef Jurion

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Famous for wearing his glasses during matches, Armand ‘Jef’ Jurion was instrumental in putting Belgian football on the map at a time when they were still feeling their way into the game at both club and international level.

The relatively new European Cup had not been kind to Jurion’s Anderlecht team until the 1962-63 season, when he scored a late goal to send the mighty Real Madrid crashing out in the first round having also netted in the first-leg 3-3 draw at the Bernabeu.

6. Vincent Kompany

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The leader of the new golden generation of Belgian football, Vincent Kompany has established himself as one of the best central defenders in the world since his move to Manchester City.

The 28-year-old showed promise from an early age, being named Belgian Player of the Year and making his debut for the national team while still in his teens. He won two league titles with Anderlecht before a brief spell in the Bundesliga with Hamburg.

5. Wilfried van Moer

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A mainstay of the Belgian side when fit, Wilfried van Moer would have surely added to his tally of 57 caps had it not been for a broken leg that kept him out of the international setup for the best part of five years. When he eventually was recalled, he quickly established himself as the team’s most valuable asset and played well into his 30s.

He arguably got better as he got older and was instrumental in helping his country to a surprise second place in the 1980 European Championships.

4. Jef Mermans

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The early career of Jef Mermans was blighted by World War II, but that didn’t prevent Anderlecht handing minnows Tubantia a blank cheque to secure the services of the striker. Mermans went on to score a record 338 goals in 384 matches for Anderlecht, firing the team to seven Belgian championships and finishing as top scorer in the competition on three occasions. His form was so impressive that the likes of Roma, Torino, Lazio, Atletico Madrid and even the all-conquering Real Madrid made offers for him.

3. Jean-Marie Pfaff

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Jean-Marie Pfaff was arguably the most important member of Belgium’s original golden generation as he carved out a formidable reputation in the Red Devils’ goal. An 11-year international career saw him take in four major tournaments, including helping Belgium to second place in the 1980 European Championships and a best-ever finish of fourth in the 1986 World Cup.

2. Jan Ceulemans

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No player has won more international caps for Belgium than Jan Ceulemans, who acted as the driving force behind their purple patch in the 1980s. He was instrumental in helping the team to the 1980 European Championships final, while six years later he led the team to fourth place in the World Cup – their best finish in the competition.

1. Paul van Himst

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With 30 goals in his 81 matches, no player has scored more times for Belgium than Paul van Himst. That is just one of a number of records set in an illustrious career spanning 18 years, 14 of which saw him turn out for the Red Devils.

The majority of his club career was spent with Anderlecht, where he won eight league titles and scored 233 goals in 457 appearances.

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