Ultimate Belgium dream team - De Bruyne & Hazard in, Courtois out
Belgium have been a force to be reckoned with at the international stage over the course of the last decade or so.
They missed out on qualification for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, but the emergence of Belgium's "golden generation" consisting of players such as Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne saw them return to the highest level.
The Red Devils made it to the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup, rose to the top of the Fifa Rankings, and then won the bronze medal at the 2018 World Cup.
Their recent successes have reminded fans of their previous glory days, with Belgium making it to the final at Euro 1980 and the semi-finals at the 1986 World Cup, with players like Jean-Marie Pfaff, Enzo Scifo and Jan Ceulemans making waves at the global scene back then.
But who make their ultimate dream team?
Let's take a look!
- Getty Images
GK: Michel Preud'homme
Rated as one of the best and most consistent goalkeepers of his era, Preud'homme was the first winner of the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper at the 1994 World Cup.
The shot-stopper played 58 times for Belgium between 1979 to 1995 and featured in two World Cups for his country.
Preud'homme made his final appearance for his country in December 1994 in a 4-1 Euro 1996 qualifier against Spain.
Thibaut Courtois might feel slightly hard done by as he narrowly misses out on the No.1 jersey, but the Real Madrid star still has a few seasons ahead of him and could very well dethrone his illustrious compatriot in the years to come!
- Getty Images
LB: Jan Vertonghen
A product of the Ajax youth academy, Vertonghen is a versatile left-back who can also feature as a centre-back.
Vertonghen made his international debut in 2007 and with 141 caps (including three unofficial games), he is the highest-capped player in the history of Belgian football.
The defender helped Belgium to a fourth-placed finish at the 2008 Olympics, reached the quarter-final at the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 and Euro 2020, while also helping them to a third-placed finish at the 2018 World Cup.
CB: Philippe Albert
One of the most attack-minded centre-backs of his generation, Albert made 41 appearances for the Belgian national team between 1987 to 1997.
The defender featured at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, having made his debut in 1987.
Albert rose to fame at the 1994 World Cup when he played in four of Belgium's games, scoring against Netherlands and against Germany in the second-round game, which his team lost 3-2.
The former Newcastle man just beats Toby Alderweireld to a spot at the heart of the defence.
CB: Vincent Kompany
One of the greatest Belgian defenders of the modern era, Kompany made his international debut in 2004 at the age of 17 and was part of Belgium's squad for the 2008 Olympics.
After making a name for himself at Manchester City, Kompany became Belgium's captain in 2010 and he featured for his country at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
Between 2004 and 2019, Kompany made 89 appearances for Belgium, scoring four goals.
RB: Eric Gerets
Regarded as one of the greatest right-backs in Europe at his peak, Gerets represented his country for more than 15 years, featuring in four major international tournaments, Euro 1980, the 1982 World Cup, 1986 World Cup and the 1990 World Cup.
At the 1982 World Cup, Gerets captained Belgium to one of their most famous wins with a 1-0 victory over defending champions Argentina in the first game of the tournament as he kept Diego Maradona quiet for the full game.
At the 1986 World Cup, Gerets helped Belgium to win fourth place at the tournament, losing to a Maradona-inspired Argentina this time around in the semi-final.
He also captained Belgium at the 1990 World Cup, where they lost to England in the second round.
RW: Wilfried Van Moer
Standard Liege legend Van Moer made 57 appearances and scored nine goals for Belgium in his international career between 1966 and 1982.
He appeared at the 1970 and 1982 World Cups for Belgium , as well as Euro 1980 in which Belgium finished second.
In 1972, he helped Belgium qualify for the Euro semi-final as he scored against Italy, before breaking his leg in the same game.
He returned to the national team at the age of 34 and scored against Portugal to help Belgium qualify for the European Championship.
Van Moer's performances earned him a fourth-placed finish in the 1980 Ballon d'Or behind winner Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bernd Schuster and Michel Platini.
CM: Jan Ceulemans
One of the greatest Belgian midfielders, with immense goalscoring capabilities, Ceulemans played in a variety of positions, including central midfield and attacking midfield.
He was known for his stamina, aerial ability and technique.
Ceulemans was part of Belgium's golden era in the 1980s when they reached the final of Euro 1980 and he captained the team that attained a fourth-placed finish at the 1986 World Cup.
He retired from international football after the 1990 World Cup.
- Getty Images
CM: Kevin De Bruyne
One of the greatest midfielders Belgium has ever produced, De Bruyne is widely regarded as the best ever in his generation and thus sees off competition from the likes of Timmy Simons and Axel Witself for the midfield spot alongside Ceulemans.
Often described as "the complete footballer", De Bruyne made his Belgium debut in 2010 and has since then has earned over 90 caps for his country.
He was a crucial part of the Belgian side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, before playing a starring role for them to claim the third spot at the World Cup in 2018, eventually being named in that tournament's Dream Team.
His vision, passing, shooting and energy make him one of the greatest Belgian players in history.
- Getty Images
LW: Eden Hazard
A son of two former footballers, Hazard was one of the best players of his generation in his prime.
After rising through the ranks at Lille, the versatile attacker made his international debut for Belgium back in November 2008 at the age of 17. Three years later, he scored his first international goal against Kazakhstan.
Since then, he has earned well over 100 caps, playing a crucial role for the Belgian side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 and Euro 2020.
He captained Belgium to a third-placed finish at the 2018 World Cup, which was the country's best finish ever in the tournament.
Hazard won the Silver Ball in that edition and it was under his leadership that Belgium became FIFA's top-ranked international football team.
- Bob Thomas Sports Photography
ST: Paul Van Himst
One of the greatest Belgian strikers, Van Himst made his international debut in 1960 and made 81 appearances in total, scoring 30 goals in a 14-year spell.
He made his Belgium bow in October 1960 against Sweden and was part of the squad that qualified for the 1970 World Cup.
Van Himst played a crucial role in helping Belgium attain a third-placed finish at the Euro 1972.
He also led his national team as manager at the 1994 World Cup.
ST: Romelu Lukaku
The greatest Belgian goalscorer in history, Lukaku made his debut for the national team in 2010 and has represented them at four major tournaments heading into the 2022 World Cup, namely the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Euros, 2018 World Cup and 2020 Euros.
At the 2018 World Cup, Belgium came third and Lukaku finished as the joint second-highest goalscorer to win the Bronze Boot.
With over 100 caps for his country, Lukaku has scored more than 65 goals for the Red Devils to be their undisputed all-time top goalscorer.