The mentality of our management is such that we do not have to think about defending our rights, and their friendliness obliges us constantly to think of our obligations.
– Jean Mathonet
Jean Mathonet, captain of the first generation of Standard players who achieved European success, was one of the founders of the legend which Standard still is today. The stylish midfielder directed the team to its first successes with, amongst many others, a Belgian Cup, a league title and a fantastic European campaign. With more than 500 games under his belt, Mathonet is without any doubt one of the first post-war stars of Sclessin.
Today the supporters rally around virtuosos such as Axel Witsel. Players who lift the game to a higher level thanks to their insight and flair. They are gifted players who make everything look so simple.
One of the first players who did this post war is our very own and new legend, Jean Mathonet. The stylish midfielder played no less than 374 offical games during the period 1945-1960. He was very versatile, and most of all a very talented and successful midfielder. That being said however, he started as a deep striker in a three-man formation and proved to be deadly efficient. Jean was one of the few Rouches in history who made it to top scorer in the Belgian league. In fact, during the 1955-1956 season, he scored no less than 26 goals in 30 games. Because of his insight and vision he was pulled back to become the conductor of Standard’s midfield (the then-so-called ‘inside left‘ position) and more than ever left his mark on the team.
However, what few know is that Jean was also a very talented goalkeeper. The highlight came during the derby against RFC Liégeois when goalkeeper Boogaerts fell out injured. « He played a fantastic game, and with some good saves he secured an important 2:1 win against the neighbors from Rocourt. », the press concluded after the game. Goalkeeping was not new to the Mathonet family as his brother Nicolas Mathonet made it as goalie for Tilleur in the first division. In September 1957 both brothers played each other with Standard winning 4:1, despite a strong performance of Nicolas, who prevented his brother from scoring in that game.
In fact, Jean was already a living legend at Sclessin. He was a likeable captain of the generation that won the first cup in 1954 – against Racing Club Malinois (1) – and especially of the team that won the first title in 1958 with coach André Riou (2). Jean would eventually score no less than 138 official goals for the Rouches in the Belgian league and end his career as the third best goalscorer ever in Standard’s history, behind the legend which is Jean Capelle and François Ledent. Roger Petit, general secretary and André Riou, coach, had then put together a practically complete Liège based team, with some top players such as Popeye Piters, Givard, Paeschen, Houf, Thellin and of course our very own Jean Mathonet.
It was written in the stars that the young Mathonet, born on October 6, 1925 in Herve near Verviers, would make a career in football. Every single moment he played football with his friends when, one day, he got noticed by Théodore Léonard (44m/3g), who was playing for the first team of the Rouches at that time. It wouldn’t take long before 13-year-old Jean signed his first affiliation at Standard.
However, the outbreak of WWII throws everything up in the air. With the German danger lurking behind every corner, Mathonet senior does not want to leave his son alone. As a result the young Jean descends the mine every day at Charbonnage Réunis de la Minerie in Battice . It would mark him for the rest of his life.
During the war, the official competition was logically halted, and Mathonet was allowed to maintain his rythm at the local clubs of Herve and later Melen-Micheroux. When the official competition finally resumes for the 1945-1946 season, the young striker returns to Sclessin, to make his debut at the age of 20 in the team of coach Marcelin Waroux against Boom. Although the post-war Standard went through a particularly rough patch, Jean made a strong debut: « It is clear that the young Rouches debutant is full of talent. », titled Les Sports after the game. And the following games he continued to receive rave reviews. With the personal highlight during those first weeks the hat trick he scored against Berchem Sport.
As an international, he got, as often with the Rouches, too few chances with the Red Devils. Despite his strong period at Sclessin, he was deselected in favour of coach favorites Vic Mees, Pol Anoul and Rik Coppens too often, leaving his counter at only 13 games in which he never scored.
However, he continued to delight the Standard fans every single week, with one of the many highlights being the European debut of the Rouches in 1958 when Jean Mathonet became one of the founders of the myth of Standard. Under his leadership, the Rouches became the first Belgian club to win a match in a European competition, and put aside established teams such as Hearts of Midlothian and Sporting Lisbon to eventually lose in a memorable match against the then all-powerful Stade Reims. Despite the loss, the reputation of Standard received a huge boost. From then on, all European tenors invited the Rouches to friendlies, from Barcelona over AC Milan to Real Madrid. A reputation that continues to live on this day.
Jean left us in 2004. Rest in peace legend.
(1) Standard, led by André Riou, won 3: 1 against Racing Club Malinois. The French coach put the following team together: Toussaint Nicolay, Joseph Happart, Raymond Vandormael, Henri Thellin, Jean Mathonet, Edgard Mathot, Sébastien Jacquemyns, Joseph Givard, Fernand Blaise, Denis Houf and Jean Jadot. In front of 12,000 supporters, Sébastien Jacquemyns, Joseph Givard and Fernand Blaise scored for the Rouches.
(2) On May 11, 1958, the Rouches drew 0:0 at Het Rooi in and against Berchem. A point that was sufficient for Jean Mathonet’s troops to take the first national title to Sclessin. Still under the leadership of André Riou, who played following eleven: Toussaint Nicolay, Joseph Happart, Maurice Bolsée, Henri Thellin, Gilbert Marnette, Jean Mathonet, André Piters, Joseph Givard, Denis Houf, Marcel Paeschen and Jean Jadot.
© Marc Coudijzer – October 2019
Birth: October 6, 1925, in Herve
Deceased: June 1, 2004, in Liège
Affiliated at Standard: Augustus 13, 1938 – May 24, 1960
Trophies with Standard: 1x Belgian Championship (1958), 1x Belgian F.A. Cup (1954)
International games / goals: 13 / 0
1938 – 1943
Royal Standard Club Liégeois
1943 – 1960
1943 – 1944
1944 – 1945
1960 – 1962
1962 – 1963
1963 – 1973
1966 – 1967
1967 – 1968
Royal Standard Club Liégeois
— R. Herve F.C. (32) – loan
— F.C. Melen-Micheroux (1249) – loan
R.C.S. Brainois (75)
S.C. Quevaucamps (4395)
U.S. Ferrières (3449)
— E. Hesbigonne Braives (4308) – loan
— Espoir Minerois (6225) – loan
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup
Belgian F.A. Cup
Belgian League Cup