Armand Jurion, or simply Jef, born in 1937 and the youngest in a family with nine kids, was one of Belgium's best players in the '50 and '60. Intelligent, strong, precise and correct. Those words describe him best: "People critised me because I kept the ball too long, but I didn't want to give a bad pass. I though it was better to wait for the right opportunity to give that pass", he said. His work was not appreciated by many, but by winning two Golden Shoes in '57 and '62 proved he was a brilliant player.
Jurion: "I played for Ruisbroek when I was still a young boy. Union, Anderlecht and Racing White showed interest. But only Anderlecht was really convinced of my qualities. Roosens and Steppé came to watch me play and I followed them on my bike, behind their car. Initially they came to see Noulle Deraeymaecker, a young striker of Ruisbroek. But I caught their attention and I signed a contract."
Being 17 years old, he made his debute as a right winger. "It was a cold November day. We won 2-4 against Olympic Charleroi. From day one I had a place in the starting line-up. The next game was against Union. Then against Racing Mechelen. Arsène Vaillant took the place of Mermans during that game. But he only remained in the team for that single match. I remember how angry he was."
Mermans and Jurion couldn't really play together. Though during the first two years, Jurion had nothing to say. "I was a rookie. I didn't want to discuss with Mermans. But indeed, I didn't fit in. Sermon and Dewaele were totally different wingers and Mermans was used playing in a team with them. I was a real number 10, a playmaker. I played a different kind of football, though I was also able giving Mermans the high balls he prefered."
In that same year (1955), Jurion was selected for the national team and played against France. His direct opponent was Roger Marche, nicknamed 'the wild bore of the Ardennes'. A though player, but Jef overclassed him. Jef also gave the assist for Polyte Vanden Bosch who scored. In total, Jurion collected 64 A-Caps between '55 and '67. He played on 7 different positions and scored 9 goals. Meanhwile, the skinny player became a well trained athlete.
Jef & Jef (Mermans and Jurion) played their last game together against Servette Genève. Jurion even gave an assist to Mermans in that gave. Mermans scored and thanked Jurion.
Jurion: "When Mermans left, it was up to me. Together with Hannon we conquered the midfield in Sinibaldi's 4-2-4 formation. We played attractive football and Sini was able to bring out the best of every player. Every transfer was well considered and reinforced the team. Verbiest and Puis were two newcommers. And of course also Jacky Stockman."
"In our team we had always the same players in the starting line-up. Sometimes that was difficult. There were clearly two groups of friends: the players and the substitutes. And then there was Fritz Vandenboer. He was a good friend of Eugène Steppé and scored a few goals now and then. He immediately thought he was the leader of our team. I told him loud and clear that I was the captain and no one else. Eventually he left for STVV. I remember I met with Fritz again in our game against STVV. We were losing 3-1 but we came back to 3-3. Thanks to Fritz, I played one of the best games of my carreer."
Jef wasn't an easy person. The Hungarian Sandor Karsay and the Spaniard Jorge Cayuela testified about that. But Jurion has his own oppinion. "Karsay was a powerful midfielder. He was on test when we played against Racing Paris. He had to play on the wing, but that wasn't his best position. I noticed he wasn't able to give any decent centres, so I never gave him a pass. I refused to give a ball from which I knew it would have gone lost. Cayuela was a striker with a hard shot. One evening he was always trying with efforts from 25 meters distance. I was getting nervous and said: either you pass the ball to me, either it will soon be over for you here. He didn't last long in Anderlecht. At the end of my carreer I heard some one was making more money than me. I didn't give him any pass anymore. 'If you make more money, than come and get the ball yourself', I said. I explained myself in front of the direction board. I didn't want more, but at least as much as the others..."
Jef also critised his trainers. "Against Beerschot we were playing in Sinibaldi's formation. But the Hungarian Belin was defending very well. This forced Hanon and myself into other positions and that confused our defenders. So I took action and made Verbiest, our right back, switch positions. At half time the score was 0-0 and trainer Sinibaldi asked: Verbiest, since when are you playing on another position? But, Jef made me, he replied. We won that game (0-1) and Sinibaldi never complained about it. The same happened against Antwerp where Wilfried Van Moer brought our defenders into trouble. My changes to the team's formation lead us to victory."
In Anderlecht's first European game, against Voros Lobogo in 1955, Jurion was already in the team. Though he got his nickname, 'Mister Europe', only in '63 when he scored a brilliant goal against Real Madrid C.F. "We were the first non-Spanish team to eliminate them in the first round of a European competition. After the 3-3 in Madrid, we played for 65.000 people in Brussels. We were careful, but with only 15 minutes to play, Orlans gave me a pass and I scored. Goal! In the next round, I scored twice against C.D.N.A. Sofia. I remember a Bulgarian player called me an Indian. 'Then you are a cowboy', I replied when we left the field. Later, the team doctor Jean Bauwens hugged me and said: Jef, you are Mister Europe! That name lasted. And we should have won the European title that year. But it went wrong against Dundee. We lost 1-4, but it should have been 6-0. The only had four chances. Three years later we demonstrated against Real Madrid, but we missed a lot of chances. So we only won 1-0. In the second leg, the referee was clearly bribed. Later on he was found guilty in the Barberan case. He gave a penalty for nothing to Real, disapproved one of our goals and gave Cornelis a red card. The result was 4-2. I scored one of those goals."
He's also very famous for his game with the national team against Bulgaria. "In Sofia we lost 3-0. In Belgium we won 5-0. We had to play a test match later on against that same Bulgaria. I suspected the Bulgarians to be drugged. They were a lot stronger than us and we lost 2-1. I was furious and kept on saying they should be tested for drugs..."
After 14 seasons and 9 titles, the club organised a special game for him in '64 against F.C. Barcelona (4-2). His last season for Anderlecht came in '67. He got injured against Charleroi and spent five weeks in a cast. "At the end of the season we were one point behind the leaders. They forced me to play and promissed me a free transfer if we took the title after all. But the chairman broke his promiss. The board didn't agree. A few days after winning the title, we played a friendly game against A.C. Milan. I wasn't in the mood and refuse to travel to Milan. Chairman Roosens was furious and announced the end of my carreer and the start of the era Van Himst. La Gantoise paid 1,3 milion francs for me. Let me conclude by saying that it took Anderlecht four years before winning a new title after I left."
After La Gantoise, he became a trainer for Lokeren, Beveren and La Louvière. At the moment, Jef is a business man in the football world.