Raul Dufresne de la Chevalieri, the man who led the Red Devils to the Olympic gold medal in Antwerp in 1920

Raul Dufresne at La Chevalerie. Does this name mean anything to you? Normal. This man, who became a baron, was born in Bruges on March 17, 1881 (exactly 140 years ago). He died in Uccle on November 25, 1967 (at the age of 86), and was and remains the only coach to lead the Belgian national football team to a major international cup at the Antwerp Summer Olympics in 1920. This Olympic gold medal is so far the main title The only one on the right to choose Belgian football.

So, this victory is a little over 100 years old, and the final took place on September 2, 1920. The result of the races? 2-0 victory over Czechoslovakia. This match did not go down in the football history the two teams played (even if the first half was very good for Belgium as the tournament) but because of the umpire controversy. In fact, the Czechoslovaks left the field in the first half after one of them was sent off when they were already losing by two goals. After this complicated situation, the Red Devils will be declared the final winners of the Olympic Games in Antwerp and will receive the most beautiful medals for this success.

During this same edition of the Summer Games, Raul Dufresne at La Chevalerie (From his full name Raoul Constantine Joseph Ghislain Dufresne de la ChevalieriHe also won a bronze medal as a player with the Belgian hockey team.

We are talking about a guy who has worn several hats throughout his career. Athlete but not only. Let’s go back in more detail to this coach, the player but also the military (during World War I in particular) who led Belgium to the surface of the world at the beginning of September 1920.

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Player, coach, president, soldier: a man with hats

baron Daufresne from La Chevalerie He was a Belgian athlete at the beginning of the twentieth century. Thanks to all his various activities, he would remain a player / coach / club president in the history of Belgian football. He really started his sports career in 1903 with the Cercle de Bruges (then called Cercle Sportif Brugeois) as a striker. He stayed there for 4 years, until 1907. During this period, he also held the presidency of the club until his departure (between 1905 and 1907). At this point, he chose to join Brugge’s neighboring club and rival, Club Brugge (formerly known as Football Club Brugeois). He would stay there for the same number of years he spent in the department. Perhaps in order not to disturb a Bruges fan or the other.

During these years of activity, he will score 13 young goals in 98 matches under the colors of Brugge. So it is not because of his goals, which are relatively low for the striker, that we will remember his name but actually for his ability to double on and off the field.

With regard to his military career, Raul Dufresne at La Chevalerie He was an infantry officer when the Great War broke out. At the end of World War I, he finished the rank of captain. As a result, he left the army to continue his sporting activity. And what are the activities! He resumed his role as a player on the Belgian national hockey team and, above all, took charge of the Belgian national football team, culminating in the famous Olympic Games of 1920 in Antwerp.

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Before returning to it, it is important to determine that his military career did not end there. The brigade became part of the reserve. Subsequently, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General, and he resumed service as Commander-in-Chief of the Free Belgian Land Forces in the United Kingdom in 1941/42 after he was captured and escaped during World War II. To wrap up the episode, he ended his rich career in the Belgian Army as a military attaché in Czechoslovakia, a country that definitely reminded him of (very) good memories. You could say that Baron Dufresne de la Chevalierie had a certain sense of duty, which is why he was an important and respected coach and soldier in both football and the Belgian army.

But let’s get back to his role as coach of the Belgian national football team. The Belgian team was the first “golden generation” in the world of professional football. A solid formation whose strength lies on a well-stocked set as much as many essential elements. It was taken before Armand SwarthenbrooksThe first red demon crossed 50 heads, and Oscar Verbeek In defense. And behind them is the Racing Club de Brussels goalkeeper, Jane DB, It was already a nod to his post. Finally, in front of the defense, it was the center of the San Gil Confederation at the time, Emile Hanse (Captain of the team in the last two matches) who led the team play and thus was assigned a lead Louis Van Haig, Milan is a prolific scorer during this period, and Robert Kobe Responsible for completing actions.

Summary of the tournament and the final and its problems

After World War I, sport gradually regained its rights. Due to Belgium being the host country of these Olympic Games, the Red Devils did not have to enter the first qualifying round for the final stage and qualified directly to the quarter-finals against Spain (it was the first official meeting between the two teams). The score at the end of the game? 3-1 with a triple from the Belgian striker, Robert Kobe.

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In their second match in the competition, this time Belgium found an already well-known opponent, and the Netherlands for more river points at the end of the match. (0-3 for the Red Devils, with 3 different goalscorers)Henry Larnoy, 46e; Louis Van Haig, 55e; Matteo Bragard, 86). After these two matches, well overall it was time for the final against Czechoslovakia.

Robert Kobe, A prolific striker during the tournament (4 goals in 4 matches, including 1 in the final) but also in Division 1 (91 goals in 116 matches) opened the scoring from a penalty kick after just six minutes of play. Henry Larnoy He scored the second goal for Belgium after half an hour; a few minutes before the end of the first half (in the 39th to be precise) the Czechoslovak player. Karel Steiner He was sent off for hitting Robert Kobe, always him, and his entire team left the field to contest this decision and demand the score be annulled. After this incident, Czechoslovakia was finally disqualified and Belgium became an Olympic champion.

It is important to remember and note that the Czechoslovaks were not really satisfied when choosing the British John Lewis He ruled the match because he was physically attacked by Czech fans during a match in Prague and risked, they said, not being objective during the match against Belgium.



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The Five Olympic Rings in front of the IOC building in Lausanne © Jean-Baptiste Premat / Hans Lucas
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