Given the current number of Belgium players at the club (do you know one of them has played for two countries) and that our first connections go back over a hundred years you might think there would be more links than there are between the two parties. We have toured there and taken part in a competition we are probably pleased we did not win. The most famous meeting was the UEFA Cup Final in 1984 but we have met Belgium opposition on four other occasions in Euro action. There is also the Belgium who ended up playing for Wales and some firsts on the international scene.
In 1984/85 we met FC Bruges in the Second Round of the UEFA Cup. The first leg was away and they won 2-1. In what has been described as a feisty match we had Hoddle sent off and Houghton booked leading to a ban. Clive Allen getting our goal in the dying seconds. The return saw Mickey Hazard pull us level in the opening minutes. Allen put us ahead after half an hour. The skillful Belgium’s remained in the tie until just before the break when Roberts hit our third on the night to give us a 4-2 lead.
After our first games in that country, described in ‘The Early Tours’ we played there again in 1912. This game in Brussels V Hull City was for the Decker Cup. Hull had won the challenge trophy the year before and upon their return to England had great difficulty convincing the Customs that it was a sporting trophy as it contravened the regulations regarding the importing of Silver. After they defeated Spurs to retain the trophy the following year they left it behind in Belgium rather than risk the wrath of HM Customs again (1).
Nicolaas Pieter Jozef Claesen, known as ‘Nico’ (left) signed for us in 1986 and became the first Belgium international to play for Tottenham.
He won nine caps (six goals) as a Spur, in his total of 36 (12). His first game after signing for us saw him score a hat trick V Luxembourg.
Nico is featured throughout this summer’s ‘Spurs and the Euro’s’ series. He also went to the 1986 World Cup scoring three times as they finished fourth and again in 1990.
At Tottenham he scored 23 times in 63 games, as well as winning 8 Under 21 caps with 2 goals. He is the head coach at RFC Liege these days.
We signed Jonathan Blondel (below) as an 18 year old player in 2002 and he made just four starts for Spurs but he never settled in this country and returned home after about eighteen months. He was very well liked and received a warm welcome when he returned to the Lane in the UEFA Cup tie with Club Bruges in 2006-07 which we won 3-1. Jonathan won his first international cap while he was with us.
That tie was the second time we had encountered Bruges. It was a Group match in the UEFA Cup.
At that time the teams only met once. They came to The Lane in the November. The visitors took the lead after quarter of an hour. Then just a few minutes later Beratov earned his man of the match status when he scored after a Jenas free kick was knocked down to him.
Just after the hour he set up Keane to give us the lead and then with quarter of an hour to play he headed home to ensure the win.
There have been friendly games over the years including in 1950 which saw us play one game there on the way home from a tour of Germany this against Royal Beerschott in Antwerp which we lost by the odd goal in three, Len Duquemin getting our goal. Then in 1957 we sent our team across to Antwerp in March to record a 2-1 win over a Combined Antwerp XI. Also in the fifties, 1952 saw us play a game described by many as the ‘Championship of Europe.’ We drew 2-2 with FC Austria in Brussels. The floodlight game was described by manager Arthur Rowe as game ‘the finest I’d ever seen, see ‘Connections- Austria.’
We met Anderlecht again after the 1984 UEFA Cup triumph again in the UEFA Cup this time in 2007/08. Again at that time teams only met once and we traveled to their ground in December. On a day when it rained all day things did not look good for Spurs. The home side took the lead after a defensive blunder but luck turned our way when shortly after they gave away a penalty for Berbatov to gain us a draw and see us through to the knock out stages.
On the international stage the early meetings with England where they have met Belgium 21 times (four in competition) the first time being in 1921 when Jimmy Seed made his international debut in an England win in Brussels. Two years later they met again at Highbury and Jimmy Seed scored in a 6-0 win. The following year they played at West Bromwich and Frank Osbourne played. A year later again they met back in Brussels and Frank scored a hat trick in what strangely turned out to be his last game for England. Jimmy Dimmock also played his last international that day. 1927 saw England win 9-1 away and Joe Hulme scored his first goal for the country. At that time he was an Arsenal player but became Tottenham’s manager in 1946.
The next link came in 1950 when Alf Ramsey was in the side. This game also saw the first match in which England used a substitute. Alf Ramsey played against them again. Then in 1954 at a game in the World Cup group stage, played at St. Jakob Park (where this year’s Europa League Final will be played) the two teams drew 3-3, they then played extra time and the game was then 4-4. At that point it was declared a draw. This was the first time England had played extra time.
One rather strange connection is Pat Van Den Hauwe, who was born in Belgium and his father had played for the country. At a young age he opted out of doing national service for his country. This made him ineligible to play for them. He then gave his loyalty to Wales and was a regular in their team. He was a member of our 1991 FA Cup winning team.
Top - Dembele scores his first Spurs goal V Norwich.
In Part 2, The current first teamer who started out playing for Morocco, 1984 and one of the greatest nights in the Club’s history, the Belgium Army and more games and players.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes -1 – I did ask Hull City about this story but I never received a reply. So instead here is a news clipping relating to the story they don’t seem to want to discuss. So I've attached a clipping from the local paper.
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