Belgium qualified for six successive World Cups from 1982 through 2002. The Belgian team reached the knockout phase five out of six times from 1982 to 2002, including a streak of four tournaments. One of their most famous victories was a 1–0 win over defending champions Argentina, in the first game of the 1982 World Cup held at Camp Nou with a goal by Erwin Vandenbergh.
Four years later they achieved their best-ever World Cup run in 1986 when they placed fourth under command of players like Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets and Jean-Marie Pfaff. Belgium surprisingly won against favourites Soviet Union with stars such as Igor Belanov and Rinat Dasayev (3–4) after extra time. Belgium also beat Spain on penalties, but they lost to eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal (0–2). In the third-place match Belgium lost to France (2–4) after extra time. Captain and midfielder Jan Ceulemans was the first Belgian player to be selected in the All-Star Team of a World Cup. Enzo Scifo was elected as best young player of the tournament.
In the 1990 World Cup, Belgium did well against England, but eventually lost in the last minute of extra time after a goal by David Platt. Enzo Scifo was elected as second best player of the 1990 World Cup after Lothar Matthäus.
In the 1994 World Cup Belgium lost to title defenders Germany in round 2. Michel Preud'homme was elected as best goalkeeper of the tournament and he was selected in the All-Star Team.
In 1998 Belgium was one of only two teams, together with world champion France not to lose a single game. Three draws in the first round – against Netherlands, Mexico and South Korea – proved not enough to reach the knockout stage. In 1998 Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst appeared in their fourth World Cups, setting a Belgian record.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup did not start well for Belgium, but the team improved during the tournament. Captain Marc Wilmots was notable for scoring in every match of the first round. In the second round they had to play against eventual champions Brazil. To the surprise of the Brazilians themselves, referee Peter Prendergast disallowed goal by Marc Wilmots that would have given Belgium a 1–0 lead. Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari declared after the tournament that the match against the Red Devils had been the hardest for Brazil to win. The team did win the tournament's fair-play award. Marc Wilmots equalled the record of Enzo Scifo and Franky Van Der Elst by appearing in 4 World Cup squads, although he didn't play in his first World Cup in 1990. Wilmots also scored his 5th World Cup goal against Russia, which made him Belgium's top scorer in World Cup Finals matches.
|1958||Did not qualify|
|1974||Did not qualify|
|2006||Did not qualify|
|2014||To be decided|
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Famous quotes containing the words cup and/or world:
“Sunday morning may be cheery enough, with its extra cup of coffee and litter of Sunday newspapers, but there is always hanging over it the ominous threat of 3 P.M., when the sun gets around to the back windows and life stops dead in its tracks.”
—Robert Benchley (18891945)
“All of the valuable qualities ... like helping in the development of otherswill not get you to the top at General Motors, were that path open to women.... The characteristics most highly developed in women and perhaps most essential to human beings are the very characteristics that are specifically dysfunctional for success in the world as it is.... They may, however, be the important ones for making the world different.”
—Jean Baker Miller (20th century)