K.A.A. Gent

Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkoːnɪŋkləkə ˌʔɑtləˈtik ˌɑsoːˈʃaː(t)si ˈɣɛnt], English: Royal Athletic Association Ghent), often simply known as Ghent or by their nickname De Buffalo's (English: The Buffalos), is a Belgian sports club, based in the city of Ghent, East Flanders. Their football team is the best-known section within the club, who have been playing in the Belgian Pro League since the 1989–90 season. They won the national league once, in 2014–15, in addition to three Belgian Cup victories. Ghent played their home matches in the Jules Ottenstadion in Gentbrugge from 1920 until 2013, when they moved to the Ghelamco Arena. Their team colours are blue and white. The principal sponsor is the financial institution VDK NV.

Full nameKoninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent
Nickname(s)De Buffalo's (The Buffalos)
Founded1864 (1864) (as a gymnastics association)
1900 (1900) (as a football association)
GroundGhelamco Arena
Ghent, Belgium
ChairmanIvan De Witte
Managing directorMichel Louwagie
ManagerJess Thorup
LeagueBelgian First Division A
2018–19Belgian First Division A, 5th
WebsiteClub website

The field hockey and track and field divisions were founded in 1864, making it one of the oldest sports clubs in Belgium. The club was then known under its French name La Gantoise (and it is still referred to as such in the French-speaking part of Belgium). They changed their name to the current Dutch version in 1971. The football division opened in 1900. The nickname of the club is De Buffalo's, a term coined after a visit of the original Buffalo Bill and his Wild West circus to the city in the early 20th century.[2]

Gent enjoyed its first spell at the highest level in Belgian football between 1913–14 and 1928–29, and a second one from 1936–37 to 1966–67. In the 1970s and 1980s, the club had several promotions and relegations between the first and second divisions, before returning to the highest level in 1989. The club reached the quarter-finals of the 1991–92 UEFA Cup, which is their best achievement ever in European competitions.

Aside from football, Gent also have other sports sections in track and field and field hockey.


In 1864, an association called the 'Société Gymnastique la Gantoise', which was tasked with promoting gymnastics, was founded. Some branches quickly became independent and in 1891 the team merged with the Association Athlétique, which was in itself a merger of younger teams, such as Racing Club, Running Club and Red Star. The new merger team was called Association Athlétique La Gantoise, and aside from gymnastics, the activities were broadened to athletics, boxing, cricket, cycling, fencing, hockey, swimming and tennis. In this context, the athletics team KAA Gent was founded.[3]

In the last decade of the 19th century, organized football was introduced in Ghent. Different small teams were founded and some merged into Racing Club Gantois on 1 April 1899, which would later become the biggest challenger of KAA Gent. Only in 1900, a football section was founded by the students of the College of Melle, which is a place close to Ghent. The first president of the team was doctor Hector Priem. The games were played on the Carpentierplein, which was situated at the crossroads of the Kortrijksesteenweg, the Clementinalaan, the Oostendestraat and the Astridlaan. Initially, the colours black and white were chosen, but by 31 October 1900, when the team became an official member, the colours were changed to blue and white. On 15 November 1900, the first regular game was played, against Omnium Sporting Club. In January 1901, the team played against Racing Club Gantois, which was, at that time, the larger of the two. KAA Gent lost the game with 10–0. Nevertheless, at the end of the 19th century the team already became a member of the UBSSA (Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques or the Belgian Union of the Athletic Sports Society, and although Racing Club Gantois was the elder team in the city, KAA Gent would receive a lower matricule number than Racing Club, which would receive 11. In 1901 AA La Gantoise played its first games in the lower divisions.[4]

For the first few years, the team mostly played in the Belgian Second Division, and later on in the First Division. In 1904 the team moved to the Mussenstraat. In 1913, the World Exposition was held at that place, and the team moved once more, this time to the Albertlaan. Over there, a football pitch, training fields, tennis courts, an athletics court, galleries and other accommodations were being built. At 9 December 1915, during the First World War, the stadium completely burned down. In 1912–13, AA La Gantoise became champion in the Second Division. In 1914, the team received the royal title and was called Association Royale Athlétique La Gantoise, which was abbreviated to ARA La Gantoise. During the world exposition, the team organized several sporting events. The first season in the First League, 1913–14, was nevertheless very difficult for the team and only by means of a test match against Standard Club Liégois, relegation was avoided.[5]

In 1920, the team moved again, this time to Gentbrugge, where the Jules Ottenstadion was built. La Gantoise fell back to the Second Division and it was not until 1936 it managed to win the promotion play-offs and return to the First Division.[6] In the mid-fifties, the team played their strongest football yet. In 1953–54 it ended third with an equal total of points as KFC Malinois and only one point behind the champions Anderlecht. The next season, La Gantoise was alone on the second spot, this time with three points less than the champions.[7] In 1964 it won the Belgian Cup (Beker van België), which was the first major tournament victory for the team. Because of their cup win, it became the first Belgian team to participate in the newly founded UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. La Gantoise was defeated in the first round by West Ham United.[8] In 1967, the club relegated once more, after three decades of playing in the First Division. It did, however, only take them one year to clinch promotion again.[9]

In 1971, the name of the team was translated into Flemish, as it became "Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent" (commonly known as KAA Gent or AA Gent). The 1970–71 season was the start of a bad decade for Ghent. They were relegated to the Second Division six games before the season's ending, after the defeat to Club Brugge. In 1974, they even relegated to the Third Division. Ghent had ended last and couldn't assure its promotion to the Second Division in the final round.[10] After one season, they would return to the Second Division and remained there until 1980, when the team returned to the First Division.[11] The 1980s would become a much better period for the team. In 1984 they won the Belgian Cup again, and during that period the team played in European competitions four times.[12] In 1986–87, Ghent reached the Third round in the UEFA Cup. In 1988 the team fell back to the Second Division for a short while, but thanks to the promotion play-offs, they were able to return to First Division after one season.[13] A crucial role was played by a member of the Board of Directors, Marc Mortier, who consulted the Prime Minister of Belgium, Wilfried Martens, in order to establish an organisation named Foot Invest, to get the team financially back on track. Marc Mortier gathered more than 50 million Belgian francs (1.25 million euros) in sponsoring in a couple of months and introduced VDK Spaarbank as the main sponsor of the team.

In 1990–91, the team played at the top of the standings for a long time, under the guidance of René Vandereycken and players such as Frank Dauwen, Eric Viscaal and Erwin Vandenbergh, but finally it ended on the third spot. So instead of competing in the UEFA Champions League, the team played in the UEFA Cup in 1991. After defeating Lausanne-Sport, Eintracht Frankfurt and Dynamo Moscow, Ghent played the quarter finals against Ajax.[14] The following years, Ghent fell back to the lower places in the standings. From 1994 until 1997, they finished just above the relegation places in the league.[15] By the end of the 1990s the results improved again, and with coach Trond Sollied, KAA Gent qualified for European football once more in 1999–00.[16] In these series, Ghent lost heavily against Ajax, under new coach Henk Houwaart. The next season, Ghent reached the UEFA Intertoto Cup, where it would reach the semi-finals against PSG. The following seasons, league results varied between lower sub-top places and top four finishes.[17]

In 2004, Ghent signed coach Georges Leekens. In his first season, the team ended at the sixth spot in competition. With Leekens as a coach, KAA Gent made some impressive performances, such as the 4–1 victory over rival Club Brugge on 1 April 2006. In 2006–07, despite a weak start of the competition, the team managed to reach the fourth place in the Belgian Pro League. It repeated that achievement the following year.[18]

The next season, coach Georges Leekens left the club and joined Lokeren. Trond Sollied, the Norwegian trainer who had been very successful seven years before, succeeded him. Under his guidance, KAA Gent played its third Cup Final, in which it only lost at the end from Anderlecht. Sollied left Ghent again after one season, this time for Heerenveen.[19] Michel Preud'homme, who had just become champion of the Jupiler Pro League with Standard Liège, signed a contract for three seasons, together with his colleagues Manu Ferrera and Stan van den Buys. In 2008–09, the team ended at the fourth spot, after a strong comeback in the second part of the competition, with an equal number of points as Club Brugge, who had won one more game and ended third.[20]

In 2009–10, there was a heavy battle for the second place in the Belgian Pro League between AA Gent and Club Brugge and the Champions League ticket that came with it. They played each other on 8 May 2010. Ghent won with a convincing 6–2 score and won second place because of that victory.[21] One week later, Ghent also won the Belgian Cup for the first time in 26 years, defeating the other Bruges Pro League team, Cercle Brugge.[22]

On 17 July 2013, the club officially inaugurated their new stadium, the Ghelamco Arena, with a 2–0 win over VfB Stuttgart in a gala match.[23]

On 21 May 2015, Ghent clinched their first ever Belgium League title by defeating Standard Liège 2–0 at home, automatically qualifying for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.[24] Gent were drawn in Group H, against Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg, Spanish giants Valencia and French giants Lyon. The Belgian champions were able to perform better than expected against three of the best teams in the European football. On matchday 1, Ghent draw 1–1 with Olympique Lyon at Ghelamco Arena, securing their first ever point in Champions League group stages, after Milićević scored to bring the score to a tie, conceding Jallet's goal. In matchday 2, they were beaten by Zenit 1–2 at Petrovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia; they were led 0–1 with a goal by Dzyuba and managed to bring the score to a 1–1 tie with a goal by Matton, but Russian international Shatov scored for Ghent's first Champions League group stage defeat. On matchday 3, they lost again 1–2 against Valencia on Mestalla, Valencia, Spain; they hold Valencia in a 1–1 tie before the half break, but Mitrović's own goal in the 71st minute put an end to their hopes for a draw. On matchday 4, at Ghelamco Arena, Gent beat Valencia 1–0, after Kums successfully converted a penalty kick in the 49th minute to obtain their historical first ever Champions League victory. On matchday 5, at Stade de Gerland, Lyon, France, Ghent beat Lyon 2–1; Ferri's 0–1 goal was conceded when Milićević brought the score to a tie, only for substitute Coulibaly to score the most dramatic goal of winners with the very last touch of the match, in the 95th minute as Gent earned qualification in either Champions League or Europa League knockout phases. In order to qualify for the Champions League knock-out phases, Gent needed a victory against group leaders Zenit, as it could qualify even if Valencia would win at Lyon thanks to their away goal. On marchday 6, Gent won 2–1 against Zenit, finishing the group on second place and becoming only the second Belgian team to advance to the Champions League knockout phase, as Lyon beat Valencia, after Anderlecht in 2000–01. In the round of 16, they were drawn against Wolfsburg. In the first leg at Ghelamco Stadium, Ghent, Belgium, Gent were defeated 2–3 by Wolfsburg, after being led with 0–3 and managing to score two goals in the last ten minutes. The second game, this time in Wolfsburg, ended 1–0, setting an end to Ghent's European tournament.


KAA Gent have a fierce rivalry with Club Brugge, in what is dubbed as the "Battle for Flanders" in the media[25] as it is between Flanders' two cultural capitals (Antwerp having been historically a part of the Duchy of Brabant). There are also many Club Brugge supporters in the city of Ghent due to internal migration from West Flanders to the city, as well as across the region of Flanders, while KAA Gent pride themselves on their local identity.

The Buffalo's also share a small local rivalry with KSC Lokeren.[26]


European record

Accurate as of 25 July 2019
UEFA Champions League 10 3 1 6 11 17 −6 030.00
Cup Winners' Cup 4 1 1 2 2 5 −3 025.00
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League 62 23 15 24 82 103 −21 037.10
Total 76 27 17 32 95 125 −30 035.53

Legend: GF = Goals For. GA = Goals Against. GD = Goal Difference.


  • 1R: First round
  • 2R: Second round
  • 3R: Third round
  • QR: Qualifying round
  • 2Q: Second qualifying round
  • 3Q: Third qualifying round
  • PO: Play-off round


As of 2 September 2019[27]

Current squad

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

No. Position Player
1 GK Thomas Kaminski
2 DF Jan Van den Bergh
3 MF Nicky Beloko (on loan from Fiorentina)
5 DF Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui
6 MF Elisha Owusu
7 FW Roman Yaremchuk
8 MF Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (Captain)
9 MF Roman Bezus
10 MF Giorgi Chakvetadze
11 FW Jean-Luc Dompé
12 DF Franck Bahi
13 FW Giorgi Kvilitaia
14 DF Alessio Castro-Montes
15 DF Milad Mohammadi
16 FW Jonathan David
17 DF Ibrahima Cissé
18 MF Dylan Mbayo
No. Position Player
19 MF Brecht Dejaegere
20 GK Jari De Busser
21 DF Nana Akwasi Asare
22 FW Philip Azango
23 DF Mikael Lustig
24 MF Sven Kums (on loan from Anderlecht)
25 DF Reuben Yem
26 GK Colin Coosemans
28 DF Dylan Bronn
29 FW Laurent Depoitre
31 FW Yuya Kubo
32 DF Ihor Plastun
33 MF Louis Verstraete
76 DF Timothy Derijck
DF Deiver Machado
FW Mamadou Sylla

Out on loan

For recent transfers, see List of Belgian football transfers summer 2018.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
3 MF Eric Smith (at Tromsø)
77 MF Giorgi Beridze (at Lokeren)
MF Franko Andrijašević (at HNK Rijeka)
FW Stallone Limbombe (at Giresunspor)
FW Lior Inbrum (at Hapoel Tel Aviv F.C.)

Technical staff & management

Name Position
Jess Thorup Manager T1
Peter Balette Assistant Manager T2
Franky Vandendriessche Goalkeeper Coach
Stijn Matthys Physical Coach
Frank Wezenbeek Physiotherapist
Gunther Schepens Technical coordinator
Ivan De Witte Chairman
Michel Louwagie Managing Director
Manu Ferrera Youth director
Gilbert De Groote Scouting director
Patrick Lips Commercial director
Sébastien Ronse Juridical & Administration Director
Luc Adriaensens Financial Director
Dirk Piens Organisational Director & Safety Officer
Wim Beelaert Community manager
Xavier Louwagie Communication Manager
Marc Van Lysebetten Press Officer

Well known former players of the team

Four players of AA Gent held top scorer positions in the UEFA: Maurice Willems (1956–57, 28 games, 35 goals), Ronny Martens (1984–85, 34 games, 23 goals), Erwin Vandenbergh (1990–91, 34 games, 23 goals) and Ole Martin Arst (1999–00, 33 games, 30 goals).

The Belgian player Roland Storme, central defender of KAA Gent in 1958–59, received the Golden Shoe award. Three other AA Gent players were presented with awards and honors: René Vandereycken got the award for trainer of the year 1991. Frédéric Herpoel was chosen as the best goalkeeper in 2004.

Mbark Boussoufa received multiple awards and honors including: pro-player of the year, best young player and the award of the 12th man, as well as the Ebony Shoe. Another AA Gent player, the Egyptian Ahmed "Mido" Hossam was also presented with the Ebony Shoe 8 years earlier in 2001.

Maurice Willems has scored more goals than any other KAA Gent player, with 185 goals between 1952 and 1962.

Armand Seghers holds the record of the most games played in the first team of KAA Gent: 507 between 1949 and 1960.

Marc Van Der Linden was in the national selection of Belgium for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Richard Orlans holds the most selections for the Belgian National Team, more than any other KAA Gent player. He was selected 21 times from 1955 – 1958.

Frédéric Herpoel was four times honoured with the Jean-Claude Bouvy Trophy for "most valuable player of the season" between 2002 – 2005.

Tore André Dahlum was a Norwegian international who played one year in Ghent.

Kevin De Bruyne is a Belgium international and Manchester City player who spent six years at Gent during his youth career.

Congolese player Leon Mokuna was the first African player in Belgian competition, in 1957. Compatriot Pierre Mwana Kasongo would join the club in 1965 and Kiyika Tokodi would do so in 1980.

Coaching history



Years President
1901Hector Priem
1902–08Adolphe Dangotte
1908–12Adolf Gaeremijnck
1912Hector Priem
1912–13Jacques Feyerick
1913–29Pierre Van Bleyenberghe
1929–39Adrien Stassart
1939–64Achiel Delongie
1964–67René Hoste
1967–76Freddy Mastelinck
1976–85Albert De Meester
1985–88Robert Naudts
1988–99Jean Van Milders
1999–presentIvan De Witte


  1. De Ghelamco Arena kaagent.be (last check 30 March 2018)
  2. https://playingfor90.com/2016/02/18/kaa-gent-unusual-nickname/
  3. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 1: The Pioneers". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 10–25. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  4. "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  5. "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  6. "Een stukje clubgeschiedenis" [A little piece of the club's history] (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  7. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 2: The end of the golden years". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). p. 14.
  8. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 3: To fall and rise with youthful talent". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 21–31.
  9. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 4: Shot at title ends in... second division". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 38–49.
  10. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 6: Travel to Hell". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 73–88.
  11. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 8: After Hell and Purgatory... finally Heaven!". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 117–139.
  12. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 9: Three phenomenal seasons". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 140–171.
  13. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 7: The post De Meester era". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 134–147. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  14. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: The Vandereycken boys". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 148–171. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  15. Rombaut, Heli (1998). "Chapter 13: The demise of a rich football tradition". Bruilofstraat 42 (in Dutch). pp. 235–253.
  16. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 10: About bombers and rubble removal". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 186–209. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  17. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 11: The transition years". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 210–229. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  18. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 12: Georges Leekens". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 230–251. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  19. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: Trond Sollied is back in town!". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 252–267. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  20. Rombaut, Heli (2009). "Chapter 8: Michel Preud'homme: a worthy ambassador of the club". De Buffalo-bijbel [The Buffalo Bible] (in Dutch). pp. 269–272. ISBN 978-90-9024650-5.
  21. "KAA Gent 6–2 Club Bruges: match report". Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  22. "Cercle Bruges 0–3 KAA Gent: match report". Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  23. "KAA Gent opent Ghelamco Arena met zege tegen Stuttgart" [KAA Gent opens Ghelamco Arena with victory against Stuttgart] (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  24. "Champions League 2015–16: team by team guide to the group stage". Guardian. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  25. "Bewogen Slag om Vlaanderen blijft onbeslist: Club Brugge en AA Gent schieten weinig op met punt". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  26. "Lokeren-Gent: de derby die er misschien geen meer is? "Als je niet kan winnen, leef je er misschien minder naartoe"". Voetbalkrant.com (in Dutch). 25 January 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  27. "KAA Gent (team)". K.A.A. Gent. 2017.
  28. "Beknopte geschiedenis van KAA Gent". Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
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