Eric Maria Gerets (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈeːrɪk ˈxeːrəts], born 18 May 1954) is a Belgian football manager and former footballer. He started his playing career as an amateur for his local team AA Rekem, before achieving success with Standard Liège and PSV. At his peak he was regarded as one of the top right-backs in Europe. The combination of his warrior's heart, beard and dark long hair earned him the nickname "The Lion (of Flanders)".
Eric Gerets after the celebration of Al Hilal in the 2009–10 Saudi Pro League
|Full name||Eric Maria Gerets|
|Date of birth||18 May 1954|
|Place of birth||Rekem, Belgium|
|Height||1.82 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Right back|
|2002–2004||1. FC Kaiserslautern|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
As a coach, he is best known for his advocacy of systems thinking. He is also one of six managers – along with José Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Giovanni Trapattoni, Tomislav Ivić and Ernst Happel – to have won domestic league championships in at least four countries.
Gerets began his career playing for amateur side AA Rekem before joining then titleholders Standard de Liège. Making his debut 16 April 1972 coming on for Silvester Takač against FC Diest. In the 1972–73 season Standard reached the Cup final, manager Vlatko Marković let Gerets start despite not being an established first team member as Standard lost 2–1 to fierce rivals Anderlecht. The following season, Gerets replaced 29-year-old Jacques Beurlet and became the first choice right back for the Rouches. In 1975 Gerets made his debut for the national team.
He is the third-most capped player for the Belgium national team, with 86 appearances and two goals.
In the 1980s, a new generation of players emerged at Standard. Noted manager Ernst Happel was hired, and later the club brought Raymond Goethals back to Belgium. Players like Arie Haan, Guy Vandersmissen, Michel Preud'homme, Walter Meeuws, Jos Daerden and Simon Tahamata became key players, whilst Gerets was the captain of the team. In 1980, Standard finished runners-up in the league, before winning the 1981 National Cup with a 4–1 win over Lokeren SC. In 1982, Standard won the title by beating Waterschei SV Thor in the last match of the season. A few days later, they faced Barcelona in the European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they lost 2–1. The influence of Gerets on Standard's success was recognised when he was awarded the 1982 Belgian Golden Shoe. The following year he captained Standard to another league title, their ninth overall, which would prove to be their last until 2007–08.
In 1985, Gerets joined PSV playing together with Ruud Gullit, Frank Arnesen, Huub Stevens and Willy van de Kerkhof followed by Brazilian star Romário. In 1986, Gerets won the title with PSV, and after the departure of Gullit in 1987, Gerets became the new captain. Under Guus Hiddink PSV won the league and cup double three years in a row, Gerets scoring twice in the cup final against Roda JC. In 1988 PSV reached the UEFA European Cup final facing Benfica. After 120 minutes, it was still 0–0; PSV eventually won on penalties.
In 1990, Bobby Robson was appointed as Hiddink's successor. Under Robson, Gerets won another two titles with PSV then he retired at the end of the 1991–1992 season at the age of 37.
Gerets registered 86 caps for the Belgium national team, making him the third-most capped player in their history. He made his debut for the squad in 1975, and played at four major tournaments: the 1980 European Championship, 1982 World Cup, 1986 World Cup, and 1990 World Cup.
In 1980, Gerets played in his first European Championship in Italy. He scored the opening goal in a 2–1 win against Spain which ensured Belgium qualified as group winners. The tournament is remembered for the inspired performance of the offensively-minded Belgium (around rising stars such as Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets, Jean-Marie Pfaff and Erwin Vandenbergh) who unexpectedly reached the final, only losing to West Germany (1–2) by a Hrubesch goal two minutes from time.
At the 1982 World Cup, Belgium, captained by Gerets, recorded one of their most famous victories with a 1–0 win over defending champions Argentina in the first game of the tournament held at Camp Nou with a goal by Erwin Vandenbergh, and an excellent defensive display to hold off a young Diego Maradona.
Four years later, they achieved their best-ever World Cup run in 1986 when they placed fourth under command of players like Jan Ceulemans, Jean-Marie Pfaff and captain Gerets. Belgium surprisingly won against favourites the 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 semi-final (0–2), inspired by Maradona. Despite their defeat, Belgium would end up in fourth place – their best finish ever in World Cup competition.
Gerets would also captain his nation to the 1990 World Cup finals. Belgium failed to convert their chances against England in the second round. They lost in the last minute of extra time after a goal by David Platt.
As a manager, Gerets worked successively for FC Liège, Lierse, Club Brugge, PSV, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and VfL Wolfsburg before joining Galatasaray at the end of the 2004–05 season. In the 1996–97 season, he won the Belgian championships with Lierse, reprising the feat in the season 1998–99 with Club Brugge. He also won the Dutch championships twice (1999–2000 and 2000–01) with PSV. In the 2005–06 season, Gerets won the Turkish Premier Super League with Galatasaray. In May 2007, he left the club, and on 25 September became Marseille's coach.
In his first year with Marseille in 2007, he managed to get the team from the bottom of the league up to finish their 2007–08 season in third place. On 29 April 2009, he confirmed that he would not be in charge of Marseille after the summer when his contract expired. On 26 May 2009, he signed a contract to take over as head coach of Saudi club Al-Hilal for two years for an annual fee of €1.8 million. On 6 July 2010, he signed a four-year contract with Morocco. He would do the job part-time until he completed the Asian Champions League campaign with Al Hilal but stranded in the semi-finals. He was in charge of Morocco for almost two years. He was sacked on 15 September 2012 after a Morocco's 2–0 defeat against Mozambique in the first-leg of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualification.
Less than a month after leaving Morocco, he accepted a contract offer to become the head coach of Qatari defending champions Lekhwiya on 9 October 2012.
Gerets departed Lekhwiya and became the head coach of the United Arab Emirates team Al Jazira Club on 20 May 2014.
|1. FC Kaiserslautern||2002||2004||70||21||16||33||30.00|
- In isolation, Gerets is pronounced Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣeːrəts].
- "Gerets to stand down at Marseille". Uefa.com. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
- "Official Website of Al-Hilal". Alhilal.com. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Gerets appointed Morocco coach | Reuters". Af.reuters.com. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Morocco sack coach Eric Gerets". BBC Sport. 16 September 2012.
- "Gerets signs three-year deal with Lekhwiya". Qatar Stars League. 9 October 2012.
- "Al Jazira confirm Eric Gerets as new coach to replace Walter Zenga". The National. 20 May 2014.
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