Eric Gerets













You can go to war with Eric.

– Ernst Happel

Throughout its rich history, Standard Liège has remained inseparatable from the province of Limburg. In spite of the arrival of Racing Genk in the late eighties, the bond with Sclessin never stopped at the language border, and it is no coincidence that one of the most notable players of Standard comes from Limburg, and represents the Standard spirit in the most symbolical way.

Eric Gerets. The « Lion of Rekem ». His nickname covers it all. Hair waving in the wind, full beard, slumped trunk: until his very last game (May 3rd 1992 with PSV Einhoven, and 15 days before his 38th birthday) he ran the right wing of the pitch in a style which made his reputation; in Liege first, but later in Europe and the rest of the world, long before any social media was around.

The legendary full back made his debut however as … a striker. The 12.000 fans attending the game on April 16th 1972 in Diest, at « De Warande » didn’t see a great game, and the team led by René Hauss wasn’t able to avoid defeat, and consequently losing the title race, which they’d won for the past three seasons. « I arrived in 1971 straight from Rekem when I was only 17. I can’t remember who scouted me, but it took me over a year to digest the jump from the lower leagues to the first division. »

Eric would start the 1972-1973 season, highlighted by – a lost – Belgian Cup Final against Anderlecht, as a right full back. His real breakthrough would take place in the following season however when he gradually replaced Jacky Beurlet in the back four. « As a striker I even played some games instead of p’tit Léon (Léon Semmeling, one of Standard’s legendary midfielders), but Vlatko Markovic, our coach in those days, found the ideal solution by turning me into a defender. That reconversion wasn’t that obvious, nor easy. I had to learn how to defend, jump and tackle. But Markovic learnt me the ropes and thaught me how to be a professional, and from then on I launched my long career as a full back. »

Until the arrival of Robert Waseige in 1976, Standard wasn’t having its best period in history. Nevertheless it saw Eric getting his very first call up for the national team, with Raymond Goethals fielding him in October 1975 against East Germany in Brussels, and later during a 5:0 defeat against The Netherlands in Rotterdam in 1976. « Oh yes, I still remember Robbie Rensenbrink having a whale of a time against me scoring 3 goals. »

Just like with the Red Devils, his career would lift of with Standard: firstly qualifying for European football and then collecting his first club trophies (Belgian FA Cup in 1981, Belgian Supercup in 1981 and 1983, and winning the Belgian League Championship in 1982 and 1983) as well as individual trophies (Golden Boot in 1982).  And who can forget the lost European Cup Winner’s Cup final from Barcelona after a very disputed game.

« I quickly got noticed and built a strong reputation. At one given point they even compared me to Manfred Kaltz who played for Hamburg in the 70-80ies. That was such a big compliment as I shared his offensive style of play. Afterwards I also became Standard’s captain. I’m unsure who I replaced, but I think it was Christian Piot after his knee injury. At that time I had everything going for me. I had to wait till 1981 to win my first club title, which was a long time coming, but good things come to those who wait. Winning the league remains to be very special. And even after winning many more, especially with PSV Eindhoven, you never get used to them. When I won the Golden Boot in Belgium, nobody really was surprised as there was no big opponent that season. I am so grateful for the years I have spent in Liège: to management, my managers, my colleagues but especially to all my fans who gave me the opportunity to shine at Standard. It’s by far the most beautiful and important experience I have ever had. » The full back ended his career at Standard in 1983 by winning the championship for the second time.

« When I think back about these last months, I remember the stress we all had near the end. AC Milan wanted me, but our Secretary, Roger Petit, wouldn’t have any of it and asked the Italians a ridiculous transfer fee. It was a stressful time. There were also other teams interested in signing me, and I was close to agreeing a deal with 1. FC Cologne as I felt the time was right after 11 seasons with Standard. In the end we all agreed the time was right, and I was able to get my transfer to AC Milan. Leaving with the title under our belt was such a good feeling. I forgot indeed that our city rivals helped us by winning in Brussels at the end of the season. »

Even if the bribery scandal “Standard-Waterschei” shadowed his career  (« One big stupid mistake »), it never impact his popularity in Liège, not even when he visited the club with the opposion (eg. Lierse in 1997 as a coach). « It is exceptional isn’t it. An entire stadium was happy when we won the title! » Although the timing was never right to become head coach at Standard, Eric doesn’t miss a game as a normal fan. « It’s fantastic. I attend all home games with my wife. If we win, it’s great. If we don’t, it isn’t all bad cause I know there is a game the following week. I don’t have great expectations before the match, but I just enjoy being in the stand, and supporting my team. »


(© Philippe Gerday, Septembre 2018)

Birth: May 18th 1954, in Rekem
Affiliated at Standard: July 1st 1971 – August 23th 1983
Trophies with Standard:
2x Belgian Championships (1982, 1983), 1x Belgian F.A. Cup (1981), 1x Belgian League Cup (1975), 2x Supercup (1981, 1982)
International caps / goals: 86 / 2


Youth Development

1966 – 1971

V.C. Arbeid Adelt Rekem (1605)


1971 – 1983
1983 – 1984
1985 – 1985
1985 – 1992

Royal Standard Club Liégeois
A.C. Milan (ITA)
M.V.V. Maastricht (NDL)
P.S.V. Eindhoven (NDL)



Royal Club Liégeois (4)
K. Lierse SK (30)
Club Brugge K.V. (3)
PSV Eindhoven (NDL)
1. FC Kaiserslautern (DEU)
VfL Wolfsburg (DEU)
Galatasaray SK (TUR)
Olympique de Marseille (FRA)
Al-Hilal (SAU)
Marokko (MAR)
Lekhwiya SC (QAT)
Al-Jazira Club (ARE)



Belgian Championship
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup
European Cups



Belgian Championship
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup
European Cups