I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.
I should really put this down as a club thing. Clubs who have done extremely well in the past whether it be in the cup, or Europe, or league. But…this time, I have decided to pick a player. I came across a player who most clubs in the Pro League will know as well European clubs and lower league clubs. Francis Severeyns!
To continually write about Club Brugge and Anderlecht is, no offence, dull. It’s full to whoever may read my blog on a regular basis (if anyone does) and it’s dull for me. It’s the equivalent of constantly writing about Liverpool and Manchester United. But I digress. Francis Severeyns, also known as Cisse, came through the ranks at Royal Antwerp in 1984, signed originally from Westmalle as a youngster. Primarily, I’ve written about Cisse because I thought I’d kick of my Back in Time with a 7/8 finish in the year, but stumbled across a goalscorer, who, was always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
In a generation full of top Belgian strikers, Francis Severeyns managed to play for the Red Devils 7 times and managed to bag a goal in the process. Taking that into the clubs he played for, he did have a decent goalscoring record. In his first spell at Antwerp, his best personal performance was a goal haul of 24 goals when the Great Old finished 3rd in the 1987/88 season, striking up a good partnership Marc Van Den Linden. That season helped the club qualify for the UEFA Cup.
With his impress start to his career, his major disappointment followed where Serie A came calling. Possibly the league to join in the 80s and 90s which is a huge compliment. Unfortunately, the Italian Job ended horrendously, with Pisa finishing second bottom, and, going by my research, no goals were scored by Severeyns. Where does he go from there? Well, he was a lucky boy, to an extent, when Mechelen signed him! Yes! The Belgian Champions sent him a huge lifeline.
After that, De Kakkers did well, finishing 3rd, 2nd and 4th in Severeyns three seasons, trying to build a relationship with John Bosman. Those finishes meant the Cisse always had European football. After his mini spell there, which was reasonably good at a club level, scoring nearly a goal every 3 matches, he rejoined Antwerp. In some ways, coming home.
Again, this is where the bridesmaid comment comes in, as they’d won the Beker van Belgie the year before he joined. Meaning clubs had success the year before he joined! But that first season the club reached the Cup Winners Cup final, losing out to an impressive Parma team. Francis Severeyns even managed a goal in that final before the Italians won 3-1! Domestically, Severeyns managed 19 goals (joint 5th) and sparked up a good relationship with Alexandre Czerniatynski (I quadruple checked that). The club began a descend down the table, actually finishing just outside the relegation places in the 1994/95 season, until picking themselves up the season he left, finishing 6th, ensuring an Intertoto Cup place.
But the now experienced Belgian moved to Austria with Tirol Innsbruck. An average season all in all where the club finished 6th, which is mid table in the Austrian Bundesliga, and the club also went out of Europe early to Celtic. This was to be his final stint abroad as he returned to Belgium in the form of Germinal Beerschot.
Three seasons with the historic club were followed by his last season in top flight at Westerlo in 2001/02. Thereafter, he played football for the love of football, playing in the Belgian lower leagues, before return to his home club KV Westmalle, where he is now the manager.
This is unique in that I don’t often write about former players of yesteryear, but a player who had the courage to play abroad is one thing, along with being at clubs in a successful era in their history, without actually winning a medal of his own. A fantastic career with I’m sure many stories, with no silverware to boast for it! I wonder if the second coming in the form of management will happen for Francis Severeyns?