Jan Mulder, former football star and columnist these days describes the warm feeling he has for Anderlecht: "Anderlecht? That's chairman Steppé sitting in his old office, that's the groundskeeper, the tennis fields where I used to train and of course the old stadium... And Michel Verschueren who worked so hard for the club. He brought Anderlecht to the top. Well done!"
"One day the direction board changed the club colours from plain purple to mainly white. That was 20 years ago, but it still makes me feel bad. Love for your club, that's what it's all about! Of course Anderlecht is a commercial international, but still... you have to love the team you play for. My feelings for Anderlecht will never change. Nothing or no one can change my love for that club."
"When Vanden Stock and Verschueren met Rob Rensenbrink a while ago, they only said hello for about 30 seconds. Also Pierre Hanon was there and he was shocked. 'This guy was your biggest star! He owned half of the stadium', he reacted. Some players are really being insulted by this kind of behaviour. But I understand it. Verschueren and Vanden Stock have a club to run. I can imagine they don't have time to keep on talking with their former players for hours. I don't blame Vanden Stock of he doesn't send me flowers for my birthday (laughs). Verschueren also doesn't have time to organise meetings with former players or shaking hands with 100 people before a game. He has to make sure the club wins the title every year and make money. Personally, I wouldn't mind Anderlecht ending sixth for once. But still, it's impossible to define Anderlecht... Steppé, Roosens, Mettens... madame Mettens of course, who still looks great... Thát is Anderlecht. Those afternoons I spent in the bar with Rie and Lisette Meert. Playing football on a Sunday afternoon. Nice and stylish. Van Himst, Jurion, Hanon... Thát is Anderlecht."
But between 1964 and 1972, Jan Mulder wás Anderlecht. "When I was seven, I knew I would once play in a big stadium." And when he was nineteen, the Belgian topclub Anderlecht brought the fast and strong striker to Brussels. He was playing for Windschoten back then. "Now you can see every game on television. In those days, a club as Anderlecht had something mythical. We saw on black and white television how Jurion eliminated Real Madrid. A highlight broadcasted across Europe. And then I arrived in Brussels. Everything was perfect. I still enjoy walking on Anderlecht's field."
All the great players were there: Wilfried Puis, Laurent Verbiest and Paul Van Himst. "I admired them, but I also felt myself at home. I loved the Brussels' dialect by the way. I was a simple kid in the big city. And le tout Bruxelles came to enjoy the football of its stars. Seriously, Anderlecht became such a big club thanks to the great players like Hanon, Jurion, Van Himst, Lozano, Jean Cornelis,... Anderlecht wasn't a company, it was a family club. An-der-lecht, like a fairy tale. I also loved the name of that club. I still love the fact that my sons are born in Anderlecht. Malvaux was my gynaecologist, he would become Anderlecht's club doctor later on."
The birth of his children, the demise of his father: it all happened close to Anderlecht. "It was the semi final of the Fairs Cup against Inter Milan. We lost 0-1 in Brussels and when I was at the airport, ready to leave for Milan to play the 2nd leg, they informed me father died. I stayed behind and my replacement Bergholtz scored two goals: 0-2 victory. On Saturday my father was buried in Holland. Trainer Sinibaldi called me and said I didn't have to play the next game. I told him I wanted to and he agreed. But when I arrived in Brussels, I noticed I had to sit on the bench. I was outraged, I left and said I would never come back again. I went to César and Jeanine who took care of my kids. At noon, Sinibaldi came over to visit. I said: I want to play, I'm the best player so fuck off (lacht). And he put me back in the team. But Gerard, my substitute, was very mad at me. It still bothers me."
In nine years time, the Dutchman won five titles and two cups. In 1970 he lost the final of the Fairs Cup against Arsenal. "I was great that year, but Rensenbrink and maybe Van Himst were even better. I was good, but not world class. I was better than Arie Haan for example (angry). Yes, Arie never was a real Anderlecht player. But I am and it's my duty to spread my feelings across the world. Vanden Stock called me the best centerfore Anderlecht ever had. And the fans liked me, but I kept a certain distance with them. And I was never good talking to the press."
"I was often excited. I got involved in fights and I regret that now. I wasn't always right, you know. That's why I wasn't invited on Sinibaldi's farewell party. He was a charming man who loved football. But he despised me. One day I'll write him a nice lettre. Signed: 'Your old player, J. Mulder. Your loving offensive midfielder' (laughs). I've become more intelligent throughout the years. Yes, I used to complain all the time. And no, I wasn't a great leader. I had a strong sense of what's right and what's wrong."
"I remember Fernand Beeckman. He was a real charlatan! I believed in alternative medecine and used candles and cheese against a bronchitis. That was so funny! I also had good fun with the masseur Jean Bauwens. Jean-le-miracle."
Then we have the games. We were eliminated in the Cup by Daring. "Sinibaldi was very mad and disappointed. A tragedy it was. I could have cried! We were more than a bunch of employees working for the club. We lived for Anderlecht."
"Then came my first game against Sint-Truiden where Raymond Goethals was coach. Then Beerschot: bad! Followed by Standard: terrible! They had a inferiority complex. But I was playing for Anderlecht. Everyone was jealous at me."
After nine years he left to Ajax, where Kessler became trainer. "Vanden Stock told me: trainers are passers-by, players are here to stay. I should have listened. Then I would have spent the rest of my days playing for Anderlecht. But now I soiled my spirit (laughs). Our farewell was sober. I thought: so, this is it! I'm not the type who sheds tears."
But his years in Ajax were a disaster. He was never able to play at a constant level because of a knee injury. In 1975, his carreer ended. Mulder became a journalist, writing colums. Today, he's very famous in Flanders and Holland because of his writing. "I'm still having difficulties if I have to write something bad about Anderlecht. I do it though, but in a subtile way. You can easily start a riot by badmouthing clubs. And I want the fans to remember me as a great player, an Anderlecht-player! I could have become a trainer, but I would have it to have three or four little Mulders in my team. You know what I mean, right? Real assholes... (laughs). But I'm a respected writer now and I love my new job!"
Once Verschueren offered him a job at Anderlecht. "At least 20 million Francs! (laughs). That wasn't a job for me! I can't sit at a desk all day long. The only thing I would accept is taking care of the pitch."
"I still go to Anderlecht now and then. I recognise the atmosphere of the old days." Jan Mulder and Anderlecht are unconditionally loyal to each other. "When I look at the team, I still have that proud feeling: I am part of it! It's an honour! I love the club, but I didn't make it better like Rensenbrink or Van Himst did. But one thing is for sure, my son Youri Mulder will never do better in Anderlecht than I once did. I'll prevent that! (laughs)."
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