“Guy completely identified himself with his club and gradually became its spearhead, and excellent captain for the team and a true ambassador of the sport. He has left his numerous fans with a wonderful souvenir. Everybody knows that he has given his outmost to his colors, and that’s worth more than any business card can buy you.”
– Louis Pilot
He is the equivalent of the cyclist brothers Schleck, the skier Marc Girardelli, the tennis player Gilles Müller or former Rouche, Louis Pilot : Guy Hellers is one of Luxembourg’s most famous sportsmen. He was only 17 years old when he arrived from French club Metz, but would spend an amazing 17 seasons at Sclessin and become one of Standard’s most emblematic players of his era. Between August 27th 1983 and June 30th 2000, Guy Hellers played Belgian F.A. Cup in 1993 when the Rouches defeated rivals Charleroi in Brussels with a team led by Arie Haan. Team mates were amongst others Wilmots, Bodart, Rednic, Van Rooy, Léonard and the regretted Régis Genaux.
« I arrived at a tilting moment for the club, then led by Roger Petit and Raymond Goethals. Both men brought the club to the European top (Standard was third in the European ranking behind Barcelona and Real Madrid and in front of Liverpool and anderlecht). It resulted in two league titles and a European Cup Winners Cup final, lost against Barcelona in circumstances well known to all of us. The club had very steep ambitions, which was totally in line with the talent present in that team in those days: Preud’homme, Gerets, Vandersmissen, Grundel, Meeuws, Daerden and Tahamata. Add Horst Hrubesch to it, who just won the C1 with Hamburg against Juventus and you quickly realise that this team was ready for greatness. » But it wasn’t meant to be and the “Affaire Waterschei” which exploded on May 8th 1982 resulted in a complete breakdown at the club with heavy fines and consequences which were impossible to fathom at that time.
Under the stewardship of Jean Wauters and André Duchêne the club tried to build itself up from the ground, with the help of Léon Semmeling at the helm of the first team. First priority was the transformation of the stadium: they rebuilt all four stands in a 15 year period – in 1985 (stand 1), 1992 (stand 2), 1995 (stand 3) and in 1999 (stand 4). On the pitch the transformation would take much longer. « Suddenly our first team consisted of only youth players complemented with Heinz Gründel and Horst Hrubesch. We went through a difficult patch, but our commitment and respect for the shirt ensured that we were never relegated, which would have been a real catastrophe for the club. » Bit by bit the first team was improved and build around Guy and Gilbert Bodart, complemented with more experienced players such as Michel Renquin, Alexandre Czerniatynski, Nico Claesen, Dimitri M’Buyu, Zoran Bojovic or Ronny Rosenthal. During the nineties finally home grown talent made its breakthrough with the four musketeers Genaux, Léonard, Goossens and Bisconti as the best examples. But management was also able to attract real talent with the likes of Mircea Rednic, André Cruz, Frans Van Rooij, Henk Vos and obviously Marc Wilmots.
« Finally, we were able to close a difficult chapter in our history and we could aspire a top position in the league. Winning the FA Cup final in 1993 was the first real proofpoint. » But the humiliation in the Autumn against Arsenal brought everything to a halt. « At halftime (0:3), the lockerroom was dead quiet. If the referee would have proposed to stop the game there and then, we would have all agreed immediately… » But he didn’t, and it meant the end of Arie Haan as head coach. He would be replaced by René Vandereycken who wasn’t able to convince many that he was the right man to run the club through the storm. It would take the arrival of Robert Waseige the following season to bring hope to the fans.
Helped by Kangeroo Aurelio Vidmar (22 goals), Robert Waseige put the club back on the map and Standard were first for the entire season, until April 31st 1995. Three games before the end the Rouches played arch rivals Anderlecht. After only 10 minutes the opponent’s goalie gets excluded for a horrible challenge on Dinga, and although Vidmar scores, the goal is disallowed by referee Frans Van den Wijngaert. « It’s a pity for Aurelio but I had to do what I did. » Later that game he disallowed another goal for Standard (scored by Wilmots). « I instinctively followed my linesman who noticed that Wilmots was in an offsite position. »
« For over 31 games we played a very strong season, underpinned by a strict organisation. Robert Waseige was completely right to believe in ourselves and impose our way of playing in Brussels. Something which many sadly enough would forget afterwards. » The title would go to anderlecht and it would take Standard another couple of years to finally lift that trophee. But it didn’t stop Guy Hellers of showing his enthusiasm and professionalism every single week for this entire career. Just as he did for his national team, Luxemburg, for whom he played for 15 seasons (55 caps). The highlight of his career was also linked to Belgium, as his team managed a draw with the Red Devils during the World Cup qualifiers for Italy 1990.
« Belgium had already qualified but we celebrated that draw as something extraordinary. Don’t forget that Belgium reached the quarter finales in Mexico four years prior to that game, and our small nation got a point! A point which would be fatal for Belgian’s coach, and ex-Rouche, Walter Meeuws who would be replaced by the returning Guy Thys. »
But as often in love stories, things don’t always end well, and the career of Guy Hellers in Sclessin came to an abrupt end in 2000. Tired by the dictatorial approach of coach Tomislav Ivic he contacted management as the player’s representative. A discussion which would result in an immediate cancellation of his contract – although all financial agreements were met by the club. With the first team in disarray, Guy went back to his native Luxemburg and managed successively the U15, U17 U19 and U21, after which he became Head Coach for the Luxemburg team. After four years the midfielder makes the switch to club football and becomes manager, sporting director, Academy director and finally head coach of F91 Dudelange, with whom he wins the league three times (2011, 2012, 2014) and the FA Cup once (2012). Just as with Standard he also loses the Luxemburg FA Cup final another three times (2011, 2014, 2015)
17 years after leaving the club, Guy was invited by Standard’s new management team to kick off one the league games. « Lars and Luna had heard and read about my career, but for our youngest it was all new. Lisa didn’t know her dad was a former football player. When we got onto the pitch she couldn’t believe her eyes: an amazing atmosphere and all the fans applauding her old man… »
Earlier this Summer Guy was rumoured to be close to a role at Differdange. « I remain to be passioned about education and guiding young players. » In September 2018 he would sign a new contract working for Dudelange, and combine it with a column in Luxemburg’s biggest newspaper ‘Le Quotidien’. His nomination to the first Standard Liège Hall of Fame surprises the former number 7. « I suppose I need to be grateful, but I don’t deserve this nomination. Especially being part of the first wave. After the Belgian FA Cup, I earn my second trophy with Standard… »
(© Christian Raspiller, September 2018)
Birth: December 10th 1964 in Letzebürg (Luxemburg)
Affiliated at Standard: July 13th 1983 – June 30th 2000
Trophies with Standard: 1x Belgian F.A. Cup (1993)
International caps / goals: 55 / 2
1974 – 1978
1978 – 1982
U.S. Bascharage (LUX)
C.S. Hollerich (LUX)
1982 – 1983
1983 – 2000
F.C. Metz (FRA)
Royal Standard de Liège
2004 – 2010
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup