Belgium says farewell to two top men

By | September 4, 2014

Club Brugge's Timmy Simons - leading from the front ( Copyright John Chapman)

Club Brugge’s Timmy Simons – leading from the front ( Copyright John Chapman)

Before the match with Australia, two of Belgium’s most-capped players, Timmy Simons and Daniel Van Buyten, will get a chance to say farewell to the fans and for supporters to say thank you for a job well done.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have long been an admirer of Simons. He’s been a great servant for Lommel, Club Brugge, PSV and Nuremburg. He’s captained most of those clubs and is now winding down his career in a second spell at Club Brugge. At the end of the season, Simons will join the coaching staff at the Jan Breydel stadium and it would be no surprise if one day he became a top coach, perhaps of the national team. Simons has played 93 games for Belgium and only Jan Ceulemans has played more.

Daniel Van Buyten - final training before Brazil (copyright John Chapman)

Daniel Van Buyten – final training before Brazil (copyright John Chapman)

Neither Simons nor Van Buyten could be described as particularly gifted players, but both have made the most of their abilities. They always gave 100% for club and country and Van Buyten in particular looked more comfortable playing for the national team at the end of his career than he did at the beginning. It was sad to see Van Buyten often criticised by the Flemish press in his younger days but that is a price that sometimes has to be paid by Belgian players. Van Buyten played for Charleroi, Standard, Marseilles, Hamburg and Bayern Munich and was wanted – as was Simons – by Anderlecht in recent times. Van Buyten played 85 times for his country and was one of the top performers in Brazil.

Both players were in the Belgium 2002 World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. Both will be missed.

Belgium’s most-capped players

1. Jan Ceulemans 96
2. Timmy Simons 93
3. Eric Gerets 86
4. Franky Van der Elst 86
5. Daniel Van Buyten 85
6. Enzo Scifo 84
7. Paul Van Himst 81
8. Bart Goor 78
9. George Grün 77
10. Lorenzo Staelens / Marc Wilmots 70

14. Vincent Kompany 64
19. Jan Vertonghen 62
21. Moussa Dembélé 59
26. Marouane Fellaini 56
33. Axel Witsel 53
36. Eden Hazard 51

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