Jean Kindermans (59) waves goodbye after 17 seasons at RSC Anderlecht. The moment has come to reflect on a rich career as a player, coach but especially as the driving force behind one of the best academies in the world. Merci, Jean.
Long before he himself had the privilege of hand-picking the best talents, Jean Kindermans went through the ranks of our very own youth academy. It was the mid-80s, a time when a breakthrough for a youth player was anything but a given, when none other than Paul Van Himst tells the defensive midfielder that he can train with the first team. Jean ends up in a team with Juan Lozano, Enzo Scifo and Frank Vercauteren, among others. He never gets to play an official game, and so Jean Kindermans closes the door behind him at Neerpede for a first time in 1986. At Lierse SK, Jean does manage to make his debut at the highest level. After spells at Racing Jet Waver, Kapellen FC and KFC Strombeek, Jean finally hangs up his boots in 1999.
Soon after his player career comes to a halt, Jean is already back on the doorstep of Neerpede. And he has brought his connoisseur's eye with him. As a certified youth coach, he becomes head of our Academy in 2006. Together with the other departments, Neerpede commits to scouting, training methods are revolutionized and an identity is created that sticks like a stamp on every youth player. The Anderlecht-DNA is being institutionalized. And then there is the Purple Talents program, in which a scholar degree becomes as important as a breakthrough on the pitch. At Anderlecht, the parents of our young talents see their offspring grow up into refined athletes, but also into well-educated, polite and often multilingual teenagers.
The Anderlecht-way soon bears its fruits. Neerpede is simply evolving into one of the most recognized and best training centers in Europe. Our youth teams strings together final victories in prestigious tournaments and Sporting even reaches the Final Four of the UEFA Youth League - twice. Starting with Romelu Lukaku, things move quickly: each season, talents from the youth academy progress to the first team. Romelu, Youri, Jérémy: the list of young talents who grow into international top footballers and ambassadors of Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht thanks to their formation at RSCA is an impressive one.
Not everyone is lucky enough to become a professional footballer. But they all have the right values and the foundations to go far in life. That is the legacy of Jean Kindermans, and not in the least of all the coaches and staff at Neerpede. And that is also the mission to which Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht will always remain faithful.
Jean Kindermans' chapter at the club is over, another one is beginning. Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht would like to thank Jean for his years of loyal service, his great dedication and professionalism.
See you soon, Jean.