Continuing our alphabetical world tour, next up is Belgium. The world’s number one ranked country are enjoying something of a golden age in recent times, with several of their top talents plying their trade in the Premier League over the last decade.
According to the Premier League website 57 Belgians have appeared in the Premier League, the first of whom was…
First Player – Philippe Albert (Newcastle; 1994-99)
Pure entertainment. A towering defender with an eye for goal, Philippe Albert shot to global fame at the 1994 World Cup with two goals as Belgium reached the last 16.
His performances earnt him a move to Newcastle, whose attacking style under Kevin Keegan matched Albert well. He went on to make 96 appearances, scoring eight goals in a period when the Toon regularly challenged for the title, though ultimately unsuccessfully.
Most Appearances: Vincent Kompany – 265 (Manchester City; 2008-19)
A Manchester City and Premier League legend, Vincent Kompany was one of very few constants throughout City’s meteoric rise to the top of English football.
A warrior of a defender who loved an important goal, his highlights include a towering header that toppled United and wrestled control of the 2011/12 league title to City and THAT screamer against Leicester in 2018/19.
Though he struggled with injuries for many of his final seasons in England, Kompany’s 265 appearances remain a record for a Belgian in the competition.
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku – 113 (Chelsea, West Brom, Everton, Man United; 2012-2019)
Goals, goals, goals. Except Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku has scored goals for every team he has played for. Still just 26, Lukaku raced past 100 Premier League goals before moving to Inter Milan in 2019.
Lukaku moved to England in 2011 as a teenager with Chelsea. Though he never established himself in the side, he impressed during loan spells at West Brom and Everton and joined the Toffees on a permanent deal in 2014.
Further impressive goal returns prompted a £75 million move to Manchester United and though he scored a more than respectable 28 goals in 66 top-flight appearances for the Red Devils, his time at Old Trafford was turbulent and ended on something of a sour note.
The following 12 Belgians have appeared in the Premier League in 2019/20 so far:
Björn Engels (Aston Villa), Leandro Trossard (Brighton), Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Denis Praet, Youri Tielemans (both Leicester), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen, Nacer Chadli (both Spurs), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves).
Trivia & Records
- Five Belgians have won the Premier League – Vincent Kompany, Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Ritchie De Laet and Kevin De Bruyne.
- Romelu Lukaku became the youngest non-English player to reach 100 Premier League goals (24 years, 322 days).
- Three of the four most capped Belgians in history have played in the Premier League (Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard and Toby Alderweireld).
- 11 of Belgium’s 2018 World Cup squad played in the Premier League in the 2017/18 season, while only five of them have never been at a Premier League club (Axel Witsel, Thomas Meunier, Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco and Koen Casteels)