Royal Antwerp F.C.

England Royal Belgian Football Association Defender (association football)
Royal Antwerp Football Club logo.svg
Full nameRoyal Antwerp Football Club
Nickname(s)The Great Old
Founded1880; 140 years ago (1880)
Antwerp, Belgium
OwnerPaul Gheysens
ManagerIvan Leko
LeagueBelgian First Division A
2019–20Belgian First Division A, 4th
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Royal Antwerp Football Club, often simply referred to as Antwerp, is a Belgian football club based in the city of Antwerp. Founded around 1880 as Antwerp Cricket Club by English students residing in Antwerp, 15 years prior to the creation of the Royal Belgian Football Association, Antwerp is regarded as the oldest club in Belgium.[2] At first there was no organised football played by its members, until 1887 when the football division was founded with an own board, named Antwerp Football Club. Being the oldest active club at the time, it was the first club to register to the Association in 1895. Consequently, when matriculation numbers were introduced in 1926, the club received matriculate number one.[3][4]


Over the course of the club's history, Royal Antwerp have won four Belgian league titles as well as three Belgian Cups. In 1900, most of the players left the club for the new neighbouring club of K. Beerschot V.A.C., and this was the start of a long rivalry between both clubs.

The club is the most recent Belgian team to have reached a UEFA competition final, the 1993 European Cup Winners' Cup Final, where they lost 3–1 against Parma at Wembley Stadium.[5]

Royal Antwerp had a long-term partnership with the English club Manchester United, taking their young players on loan so that their development can be aided with first team football, and young players who require European work-permits can benefit from Belgium's more relaxed laws.[6] An example is Dong Fangzhuo, who was unable to play for United, immediately due to work permit problems and was loaned to allow him to gain first team experience.

Despite being one of Belgium's best-supported clubs, Antwerp have been under-achievers for several years. They have not won a league title since 1957, and have spent several seasons in the second division. They were promoted to the top flight in 2000, only to be relegated in short order in 2004. They returned to the first division after 13 years in 2017.[7]

In August 2020, the Great Old won their first major trophy in nearly 30 years when they upset league champions Club Brugge in the final of the Belgian Cup.[8]


Royal Antwerp have played their home matches at the Bosuilstadion since 1923.[9]


Royal Antwerp share a fierce rivalry with city neighbours Beerschot A.C. (now K Beerschot VA). Although in the 2000s-2010s the two clubs have met sparingly, when they do, there is usually fan violence.[10] Royal Antwerp are often seen as a culture club with a diverse, cross-class support across the city while Beerschot have either heavily working class or upper class support, locally based in South Antwerp.[11] Beerschot supporters often refer to RAFC fans as "joden" or "Jews" due to the fact that to get to Antwerp's stadium they must pass through the Jewish district, while Great Old supporters refer to Beerschot followers as "the rats".

RAFC also have developed a long standing rivalry with Club Brugge.[12] They also have a local rivalry with KV Mechelen, although there is mutual respect due to a shared hatred of Beerschot.[13]

Meuse/Scheldt Cup

The best football players of Antwerp and Rotterdam contested a yearly match between 1909 and 1959 for the Meuse- and Scheldt Cup (Maas- en Schelde Beker). It was agreed to play the game at Antwerp's stadium De Bosuil in Belgium and at Sparta Rotterdam's Het Kasteel stadium in the Netherlands. The cup was provided in 1909 by P. Havenith from Antwerp and Kees van Hasselt from Rotterdam.



Belgian First Division

Belgian Second Division

Belgian Cup

Belgian Super Cup


UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

Runners-up: 1992–93


Current squad

As of 7 August, 2020

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Iran IRN Alireza Beiranvand
2 DF Belgium BEL Ritchie De Laet
4 DF Senegal SEN Abdoulaye Seck
5 MF Belgium BEL Birger Verstraete (on loan from Köln)
6 DF Norway NOR Simen Juklerød
7 FW Cameroon CMR Didier Lamkel Zé
8 FW Portugal POR Ivo Rodrigues
11 MF Israel ISR Lior Refaelov
12 DF Democratic Republic of the Congo COD Luete Ava Dongo
14 MF Belgium BEL Nill De Pauw
15 DF Cameroon CMR Frank Boya
18 MF Cameroon CMR Martin Hongla
20 MF Belgium BEL Sander Coopman
No. Pos. Nation Player
21 DF France FRA Dylan Batubinsika
22 FW Belgium BEL Bruny Nsimba
25 MF Belgium BEL Alexis De Sart
28 MF Belgium BEL Manuel Benson
30 DF Portugal POR Aurélio Buta
33 MF Belgium BEL Louis Verstraete
38 MF Belgium BEL Faris Haroun (Captain)
40 DF Nigeria NGA Junior Pius
46 GK France FRA Jean Butez
70 FW Democratic Republic of the Congo COD Dieumerci Mbokani
71 GK Croatia CRO Davor Matijaš
-- DF South Korea KOR Lee Jae-ik (on loan from Al-Rayyan)

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
17 DF Belgium BEL Robbe Quirynen (at Mouscron)
No. Pos. Nation Player
99 FW Democratic Republic of the Congo COD Jonathan Bolingi (at Ankaragücü)

Technical staff

Position Name
Manager Croatia Ivan Leko
Assistant Manager Belgium Rudi Cossey
Goalkeeping Coach Croatia Vedran Runje
Fitness Coach Belgium Peter Catteeuw
Match Analyst Belgium Jerry Vanacker

Manchester United Players loan partnership

This is a list of former players acquired on-loan via Manchester United's partnership with Royal Antwerp from 1998 to 2013.

See also


  1. ^ Bosuil mag voortaan 16.144 supporters ontvangen GVA, 7 April 2018
  2. ^ "Blow for Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium's oldest football club". VRT. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  3. ^ "125 years football history". Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Wist je dat: de KBVB stamnummers uitvond?". Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Parma 3, Royal Antwerp 1". AP. 12 May 1993. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Manchester United's Royal Antwerp Loanees". Five Cantonas. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  7. ^ "New life breathed into the Great Old as Royal Antwerp return to top flight". Inside World Football. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Antwerp wins Belgian Cup as soccer resumes in Belgium". Washington Post. 1 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Stadiums & Pitches". Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  10. ^ "Politie 24/7: unieke blik achter de schermen van een gespannen Antwerpse derby". VRT. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  11. ^ "De derby der derby's: "Beerschot was voor het chique volk, Antwerp voor de arbeiders"". De Morgen. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  12. ^ "De rivaliteit tussen Club Brugge en Antwerp is enorm: wij gingen op zoek naar de oorzaak van die vete en kwamen in 1908 terecht". Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Malinwa vs. Great Old, de 'Antwerpse derby der gelijkgezinden'". Gazet van Antwerpen. Retrieved 25 May 2020.