Belgian transfers between rival clubs: Tom De Sutter is not the only one

Tom De Sutter has changed his Anderlecht shirt for one of Club Brugge. The attacker already played in the youth squads for Club Brugge between 2001 and 2005 but, at that time, the West Flanders team did not believe in him and he chose to drop down two divisions to play with KM Torhout. A decision he would not regret. The striker had a very good season at Torhout and scored 10 goals in 26 matches. His scoring ratio was not that high but what was more important was that he let his team play better. De Sutter became an attractive player for a lot of clubs in Belgium.

After his good season with KM Torhout, De Sutter signed a contract with Jupiler Pro League team Cercle Brugge. In his first season, De Sutter got a few chances from his coach Harm Van Veldhoven. It was in his second season, under coach Glen De Boeck, that De Sutter impressed everybody in Belgium. He scored and, like he did with KM Torhout, he let his teammates score a lot of goals. Cercle Brugge finished in fourth place that season, behind Standard Liège, Anderlecht and Club Brugge. De Sutter also finished third in the “Golden Shoe award”, an award for the best player of the whole year. In that same season he also got called up for the Belgian national team.

Unfortunately, De Sutter’s good form came to an end because of a bad knee injury that he suffered on international duty against Germany. After his rehabilitation De Sutter worked hard to get back to his previous form, something he did successfully. It was only a matter of time that Cercle Brugge would lose their most important player. West Bromwich Albion and Anderlecht showed interest in the Belgian attacker and De Sutter chose to follow his heart and join the latter.


The Belgian striker is not the first player in Belgium who got transferred to a rival club. We give you a list of the most important ones:

Gert Verheyen

The Belgian attacker/midfielder changed Anderlecht for Club Brugge in 1992. Verheyen was an a-typical Anderlecht player but showed his potential at Club Brugge. As a hard working winger he became one of the most important players ever for Club Brugge. Gert Verheyen also played 50 times for the national team of Belgium. He retired in 2006 after he played 415 matches and scored 154 goals for Club Brugge.

Steven Defour

One of the most famous transfers between rivals is Steven Defour. The defensive midfielder moved in 2006 from Racing Genk to Standard Liège. Ajax were in pole-position to sign one of the most talented youth players in Belgium at that time. The Dutch club was willing to pay €5 million for the midfielder. A lot of money for a Belgian young player at that time. President Jos Vaessen refused the offer as he wanted more money for his talented youngster. Defour threatened the club by saying he would use the Belgian act of 1978 which allows players to free themselves from their contract. Jos Vaessen resigned as president of Racing Genk. Ajax did not want the player anymore as they do not sign players who use the act of ’78. Standard Liège agreed personal terms with Steven Defour and to ease the pain a little bit for Genk they paid a third of the amount that Ajax offered.

Rob Rensenbrink

The Dutch winger is one of the best players ever to have played in Belgium. Club Brugge signed the attacking player from the Dutch side “Door Wilskracht Sterk Amsterdam”. Rensenbrink played for Club Brugge for two years and scored 24 goals in 55 games. The talented dribbler became a true legend in Belgium when he moved from Club Brugge to Anderlecht. Rensenbrink played in one of the best teams of the world at that time in Anderlecht. He scored 143 goals in 262 matches. Amazing stats for a winger.

Ronald Vargas

The Venezuelan moved from Club Brugge to Anderlecht in 2011. Club Brugge offered their most talented player a new contract, which Vargas refused. The player said that Club Brugge did not show the respect he deserved with this offer. Vargas, or more accurately his managers, said he was going to use the act of ’78 if Club Brugge did not let him go. Anderlecht made an offer of €2.5 million for the midfielder. Club Brugge accepted the offer as Vargas was at that moment also badly injured at his knee. Until now Club Brugge did a perfect job by selling the technical gifted player. The injury prone Vargas has played 11 games so far for Anderlecht and this coming season is probably his last chance at Anderlecht to prove everybody wrong.

Lorenzo Staelens

The defender/midfielder is a legend for most Club Brugge fans. He played 286 matches for the club and scored 75 goals. Staelens was also a very important player for the national team in the 1990s. He played 70 games for his country and scored 10 goals. In 1998 things changed when Staelens signed a contract with Anderlecht. If that was not already bad enough for the fans of Club Brugge he also won the “Golden Shoe award”, ahead of Jan Köller. After an incident in 1994 Staelens refused to go to the award ceremony. Lorenzo Staelens ended up second that year after the young Gilles De Bilde. The organiser arranged a chopper to pick up the winner at his home.

Alin Stoica

Alin Stoica was a very promising player throughout his spell at Anderlecht. He showed his class in the Champions League and the Belgian competition. Anderlecht offered the Romanian player a new contract after his good period at the club. Stoica listened to his agent and refused the offer as he wanted to go to a big European club. The midfielder did not find another club and accepted the offer of Anderlecht a couple of days before the transfer window closed. After all the commotion Anderlecht had withdrawn their offer so Stoica was a free player. Club Brugge offered the talented midfielder a contract and signed him for three years in 2002. He never became the player he was at Anderlecht.

Marc Degryse

The Belgian player started his career as an attacker but his coaches would transform him later into an attacking midfielder. Marc Degryse showed already at Club Brugge how big his potential was. Marc Degryse was a born leader who already set out the pieces at the age of 18. There were some rumours at that time that Degryse was spending a lot of time in nightclubs. Nonetheless a lot of clubs were interested in the talented midfielder. PSV Eindhoven saw the Belgian signing a contract with Anderlecht. Aad De Mos asked the President of Anderlecht, Constant Vanden Stock, to do everything to sign Marc Degryse. De Mos was already interested in the player after his spell with KV Mechelen. Degryse played for the Belgian giants for seven years and enjoyed his best years under coach Jan Boskamp. Marc Degryse also became captain of Anderlecht under the Dutch coach.

Marc Degryse (left) and Gert Verheyen (right)

Marc Degryse (left) and Gert Verheyen (right)

The Belgian act of ’78

A lot of players threatened their club by saying they will use the act of ’78. You probably wonder where this strange law is coming from. In Belgium they decided on the 24th of february in 1978 that sportsmen can unilaterally break their contract. The sportsman just has to pay the rest of his wage salary that he would earn until the end of his contract.

In Belgium Koen Casteels used the act of ’78 to leave Racing Genk to sign a contract with Hoffenheim in Germany. Koen Casteels was always number one in the youth squads of Racing Genk. Nothing special until you realise that Thibaut Courtois was number two. Koen Casteels was injured when Courtois got his chance at Racing Genk. Sometimes you need some luck to start a brilliant career. After Casteels saw how Thibaut Courtois played he also wanted to have more playing time after which he used the act of ’78.

Benjamin Mokulu and Wiliam Vainqueur also said they were going to use the act of ’78. Junior Malanda of Zulte-Waregem is still waiting for his transfer and also already threatened to use the same act. Most of the time it are the managers of the players who tell them to use this act. In the most cases it is the cheapest way to move to another club. The managers can ask more signing fee from the player his new club. It is important that the players are protected for clubs who ask too high transfer fees for their players but the act of ’78 is not the best solution. Some common sense from the managers and clubs would already help a lot in those difficult cases.

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