Paul Van Himst turns 80 years old

Paul Van Himst - 80 years

On Monday, October 2, RSC Anderlecht celebrates the birthday of one of its greatest, if not the greatest, club legends. Paul Van Himst turns 80 years old. You can read how Paul will be celebrated this weekend at the bottom of the page.

Paul Van Himst was born on October 2, 1943 in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, a stone's throw from Neerpede. As an eight-year-old boy, he was noticed by the then head of the youth academy of SC Anderlechtois, Mr. Constant Vanden Stock. He promptly shoved him a membership card under his nose, the rest is Mauve history.

As a 16-year-old, Van Himst joined the first team of Anderlecht. While youth players in the first team are the norm rather than the exception today, this was anything but the case in Paul's time. Paul Van Himst, Made In Neerpede avant la lettre, made his debut at the age of 16 years and 85 days, which was unseen at the time.

It was the beginning of a career filled with collective and individual successes. Van Himst became champion eight times with RSCA, and won the cup four times. He was awarded four Golden Shoes, after which the organization decided that former winners were not allowed to receive the trophy again.

Pol was listed among the greatest on the international stage as well. He already scored during his European debut, at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. Paul would also play the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup with the Mauves in 1970. In a double confrontation against Arsenal FC, RSCA narrowly missed out on the main prize. In 1964, Van Himst finished fourth in the referendum for European footballer of the year. He was a world footballer, the star of his generation.

After yet another unprecedented performance with the Belgian national team against Les Bleus, L'Équipe described him as 'le Pélé Blanc', and that was certainly not out of mere sympathy. The young man from Negenmanneke was the European equal of the Brazilian when it came to elegance and flair.

Paul's class was not missed by other top European clubs. Real Madrid saw him as a successor for Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano. But Polle chose to stay in Brussels and ultimately played 566 matches for RSCA, scoring 309 times. In 1975, Paul said goodbye to RSC Anderlecht after 32 years as a youth and professional player. For his goodbye, other legends showed their appreciation for Paul's career by playing in his charity match. A prestigious world team with stars such as Eusebio, Pelé and Cruyff paid tribute to him in the Astrid Park under the leadership of Rinus Michels.

Football players are sometimes attributed a mythical status in historiography. Often with a sense of exaggeration, blinded by romance and the emotion that are inextricably linked to the game. For Paul, however, everything you read is correct. 

Van Himst is a living legend. The personification of the term champagne football. The standard for the number 10 of Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht. Neat and wise, not shy of having an opinion about his club.

RSC Anderlecht wishes Paul a fantastic 80th birthday.

The home match on Saturday, October 7 against KV Mechelen will be dominated by club legend Paul Van Himst. The players will wear a white retro shirt that refers to the shirts in which Paul had his heyday. Read more about the unique shirt here. Next to that, Paul will be appropriately celebrated before the match. You can buy tickets for the match at ticketing.rsca.be.

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