Since their first game in 1904, the men’s national football team of Belgium has served as the country’s official representative in international competition. Both FIFA and UEFA, which oversee the Belgian team and are co-founded by the Royal Belgian Football Association, have global control over the squad.
From 1920 to 1938, 1982 to 2002, and again from 2014 onward, regular Belgian representation at the highest international level alternated with largely failed qualification rounds. The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels serves as the site of the majority of Belgium’s home games.
The national football squad of Belgium has competed in three major football tournaments every four years. It was included in the championship rounds of fourteen FIFA World Cups, six UEFA European Championships, and three Olympic football competitions, including the 1920 Summer Olympics Football, which they won. Between 1954 and 2002, four reigning world champions—West Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and France—were defeated in memorable matches.
Belgium and its Dutch and French rivals in football have long-standing animosities, having faced each other almost annually from 1905 to 1967. Since 1906, the team has gone by the moniker “Red Devils,” while “1895” is the name of its fan club. At UEFA Euro 1972, when Belgium served as hosts, forward Paul Van Himst, the most lauded Belgian football player of the 20th century, placed third. Following then, they enjoyed two eras of unparalleled prosperity and talent.
The first phase, which spanned the 1980s to the early 1990s, saw the squad place fourth at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and second at the UEFA Euro 1980. In the second, under the direction of Marc Wilmots and later Roberto Martnez in the 2010s, Belgium came third at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and reached the top of the FIFA World Rankings for the first time in November 2015.
Belgium is the only nation’s team to hold the top spot in the FIFA rankings so far without having taken home a World Cup or a regional championship. Kevin de Bruyne, who is regarded as one of the best players in the world, is without a doubt the main player for the Belgian national team. He has access to every pass possible, which contributes to his world-class creativity. He can also score goals, and he plans to command a potent attack.
Romelu Lukaku, who enjoyed a resurgence in form at Inter before injuries curtailed the start of his club season, is paired with de Bruyne. The dynamic forward has a streaky career, but Martinez understands how to get the best out of him.
Other notable players in the Belgium team include Thibaut Courtois, who was the star of the Champions League final last season and has since emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the world, and Eden Hazard, who has faded into obscurity at Real Madrid.
Another name to keep an eye on is Charles de Ketelaere, who shone in AC Milan during his rookie campaign. Few teams have household names on their coaching staff, but behind Martinez, Belgium has former France and Arsenal icon Thierry Henry as one of its assistant managers.