Prior to Michy Batshuayi setting Bundesliga fans’ pulses racing with his on-loan escapades for Borussia Dortmund last season, many other influential Belgians played a big role in Germany’s top division. With Axel Witsel's arrival in Dortmund, more success could be coming soon. We take a look at five Red Devils who hit the Bundesliga big time.
Kevin De Bruyne
Now unquestionably one of the world’s greatest players, De Bruyne’s footballing journey to superstardom has been a fascinating one. His god-like status with Belgium mirrors the divine air he currently carries in the sky-blue of Manchester City, while there was also a time, not so long ago, that the mesmerising attacking midfielder was the toast of the Bundesliga.
Their star, and indeed the best player in the land that term, was De Bruyne. The Belgian was on fire, thumping home three doubles that included a brace in a 4-1 win against Bayern Munich while he also netted in the German cup showpiece triumph against Borussia Dortmund in Berlin.
Following a campaign in which he ended with 16 goals and 28 assists (with a record 21 of those in the Bundesliga) in all competitions, De Bruyne was hailed as the finest player in the German top flight. A move to City soon followed, as did adulation with Belgium – for whom he has now scored 15 goals in 68 games. Yet for his electrical displays and game-changing skills, Kevin De Bruyne will never be forgotten as a legend that lit up the Bundesliga.
Daniel Van Buyten
Bundesliga clubs: Hamburg, Bayern Munich
Somewhat surprisingly, Van Buyten began his career as a striker, until the coaching staff at Charleroi spotted his potential as a central defender. Later impressing at Marseille – where he was a Ligue 1 defender of the year – and then briefly and Manchester City, the goalscoring defender had no sooner rocked up at Hamburg in 2004 when he was made club captain. Some 34 games, five goals and a UEFA Intertoto Cup win later, the physically imposing defensive workhorse was the toast of the Volksarkstadion.
Club: Bayern Munich
In any list of the all-time world’s best goalkeepers, the name Jean-Marie Pfaff will always rank high. A Belgian Footballer of the Year with SK Beveren at a young age, the talented custodian joined Bayern – where the legendary Sepp Maier had retired just a few years earlier - after the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
Bundesliga club: Hertha Berlin
Goor is fondly remembered at Die Alte Dame (the Old Lady) where he racked up 13 goals in 87 Bundesliga appearances following his move to the club from Anderlecht in 2001.
Bundesliga club: Schalke
Considered a giant among fans of the Royal Blues, ‘Willi the fighting pig,’ as Wilmots became affectionately known among supporters, enjoyed two very successful spells with the Gelsenkirchen outfit.