Thibaut Courtois following in the footsteps of…

When Belgium took the field against Italy during Euro 2016, Thibaut Courtois became the first Belgian to tend goal at a European Championship in sixteen years. He was following in the footsteps of Eric Deflandre. If that name does not ring the same kind of bell, even among goalkeeping aficionados, that the names of legendary Belgian goalies like Jean-Marie Pfaff and Michel Preud’homme do, it might be because Deflandre was in fact a full-back. He was a fine one at that, earning 57 caps at right-back for Belgium and winning the French league three times in a row with Lyon. But his true five minutes of fame came when the Red Devils experienced a night in purgatory as their Euro 2000 dreams turned into a nightmare.

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Courtois will likely be a little more pleased to be putting on the gloves

Writing the wrong kind of history

Playing in a major tournament, the dream of every team is to write history. But as England found out against Iceland during Euro 2016, that dream coming true does not necessarily equal a happy end, as you may find yourselves writing the wrong kind of history. That England team will live on in the memory of football fans, but they do so as the 21st century equivalent of that other England team suffering an ignominious defeat: the 1950 World Cup squad that were beaten 1-0 by the United States.

The World Cup was held in Brazil that year, and England had travelled to South America as one of the favorites. There was certainly a reasonable basis for that. England were able to field a strong team, featuring seasoned professionals like Stan Mortensen, Alf Ramsey, and Tom Finney. The team was captained by the Wolves centre back Billy Wright, who would collect more than a honderd caps even though he was active in a period when fewer international games were played then nowadays. Their first game in Brazil, against Chili, had been won 2-0. Lining up against the English professionals in Belo Horizonte’s Estádio Independencia was an American team consisting of amateurs and semi-professionals that had lost it’s first game 3-1 to Spain.