Heylens, Georges Stats

It was Brother Alphonse of the Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur institute in Etterbeek who noticed one of his students was exceptionally good in football. He is the one who who discovered Georges Heylens, born on August 8 in the year 1941. Heylens played for Anderlecht during 22 years and was trainer at Union Saint-Gilloise, KV Kortrijk, E. Aalst, Seraing, Lille, Beerschot, Charleroi, Seraing and Genclerbirligi. Brother Alphonse contacted Brother Grégoire and he arranged an Anderlecht member card for Georgke.

"I was 10 years old and trainer Susse Gets tested me on the fields of Green Star. I was a decent right winger. I was fast and gave good centers. Though when I was a bit older, I noticed I missed speed and strength. One day, Berghmans, who was responsible for the youth players, told me he wanted to use me as a defender."

And what an idea that was! 0-5 in the first game with three goals of that new defender! Six months later, he was selected by Jef Verminnen for an international tournament in Genève. In the second game Jean-Jacques Degreef got injured and Heylens had to replace him. "I played a good game and the next season I was added to Anderlecht's reserves. I was 16 years old and shared the locker room with Meert, Degelas, Vanderwilt and all the other star players. What a moment!"

"We were poor. My father had a handicap. He got injured during the war. I was going to become and electrician. I worked at 8.60 Belgian Francs per hour. I went to my mother when I received my first paycheck and gave her the money so she could buy a good steak. She cried. That's where I learnt to work very hard. In Anderlecht, chairman Roosens advised me to train my left foot. I followed his advise and became a better player."

Between his 17th and 19th, Heylens was stationed in Beauchevain, an army barracj. There he met his wife, Josée. Colonel Wendelen selected him for the military football team where he played along side of Yves Baré, Robert Deurwaerder, Léon Wouters, Jos Smolders and Staf Bauweraerts. The team had a good reputation. "We defeated the French team. I played on the midfield. That game, the colonel told me that he was certain I'd make it to Anderlecht's first team."

And Wendelen was right. Anderlecht had bought Laurent Verbiest as defender. But he got injured on training after an international game against Switzerland. Trainer Sinibaldi told Heylens: "You'll have to make sure you can come to the training every day." Though that seemed impossible. "But Sir", I said. "It's a one hour drive from Beauchevain to Brussels!" But the trainer insisted and Heylens made his debute that same week against Antwerp. The date was November 5, 1960. Heylens: "I had prepared myself and everything went great. When Verbiest was recovered, I stayed in the team. Verbiest himself replaced Dacsev as a central defender. That way I kept my place on the right back position."

After 11 games for Anderlecht, Georges was selected for the Belgian national team in March 1961. "Federal coach Constant Vanden Stock lined me up in a friendly game against Racing Club de Paris. And in the next two weeks, I played three games against Germany, France and Holland. I played against Dörfel in the first game. We lost 1-0. We obtained a draw against France (1-1) and suffered a big defeat in Rotterdan (7-2).

Then he ran out of luck. "After the game against Daring, I noticed my leg was red and swollen. I went to the hopsital and I was diagnosed: flebitis. The doctor told me my leg had to be amputated. I realised my football carreer was over. I went to Anderlecht and told them the bad news. Though the physio-therapist Fernand Beeckman doubted the diagnose. He took me to a specialist, doctor Jean-Louis Hustin. Luckily he was able to cure me! And Beekman became like a second father to me. But doctor Hustin also predicted that I would lose either my teeth, either my hair, as a side-effect of the threatment. And he was right. At the age of 21, I was as bald as a billiard ball."

Seven months later he started to train again. Pierre Vandereeckt had taken his place. When Vandereeckt got injured, Sinibaldi concluded: "I have two options now: either you'll replace Albert Jordan on the midfielder, either you take your place on the right back position. He choose for the second option and I remained on that position for the next 10 years!"

In those ten years, Heylens won seven titles and two cups. He also won several tournaments. "In Paris we lost 3-2 against European champions Benfica. From then on, our team was nicknamend The Children of Paris. It was a fantastic game. My personal nickname was Monsieur 100.000 volts. I remember how Martin Lippens took a dive in the Seine at night." And then we eliminated Real Madrid in the season '62-'63. Heylens: "I faced Gento and had a hard game. After 15 minutes I had to ask Jean-Pierre Janssens to help me in defense and stop Gento. That worked out pretty well and the game ended on 3-3. In the second leg we won with a goal of Jurion. Later on we were eliminated by Dundee: 1-4, in the snow, ice and rain. We played a good first half, but then our goalkeeper Fazekas missed a few days: 1-4..."

"The stadium was packed. My parents opened a small sports shop and made 350.000 Belgian Francs that night. I opened four shops in Brussels but Vanden Stock warned me that I was going too fast. I got into financial problems and Vanden Stock gave me a loan of 750.000 fr. I lost my place in the team to Fons Peeters. The club organised a special game to celebrate my 10 years in service. Anderlecht earned 750.000 francs on that game against Manchester City (3-1). That way, my loan was settled."

"In difficult moments, Vanden Stock always stood by my side and helped me back into the team whenever I was playing bad. Though our relationship has been bad too. Vanden Stock has been mad at me for a long time when I brought Erwin Vandenbergh from Anderlecht to Lille. We settled our differences on a meeting of ex-Anderlecht players. There he asked me if I wanted to return. I answered: who would refuse that, mister president?"

In 1965 he was selected for the European team together with Schnellinger, Fachetti, Amancio, Eusebio and Van Himst. His carreer ended in the Cup final of 1973 against Standard. "I got injured while tackling Musevic. I had a torn muscle. I tried to make a come-back and worked hard for two years. Urbain Braems let me play with the reserves. But I never played for the first team again, besides for two minutes on a practice camp in Holland. I asked Vanden Stock if I could leave to join Jean Plaskie and Ghilain Bayet in Union Saint Gilloise". "It's a deal", he said. "But only as a coach, not as a player", he added. Vanden Stock ended by saying: "You'll regret you left Sporting...!"