Royal Antwerp F.C.

Royal Antwerp Football Club, often referred to as R. Antwerp or simply 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]

R. Antwerp
Full nameRoyal Antwerp Football Club
Nickname(s)The Great Old
Founded1880; 141 years ago (1880)
Antwerp, Belgium
ManagerBrian Priske
LeagueBelgian First Division A
2020–21Belgian First Division A, 3th
WebsiteClub website
Current season


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".

Royal Antwerp vs K Beerschot VA K Beershot VA vs Royal Antwerp
Season Division Date Venue Score Attendance Date Venue Score Attendance
2017-18 Europa League playoff 15 April 2018 Bosuilstadion 2 0 14,194 29 April 2018 Olympisch Stadion 0 0 8,600
2020-21 First Division A 25 October 2020 Bosuilstadion 3 2 0 7 February 2021 Olympisch Stadion 1 2 0

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

  • Winners: 1954–55, 1991–92, 2019–20
  • Runners-up: 1974–75

Belgian Super Cup

  • Winners: 1992


UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

Runners-up: 1992–93


Current squad

As of 19 July, 2021

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  FRA Jean Butez
2 DF  BEL Ritchie De Laet
3 DF  BEL Björn Engels
4 DF  SEN Abdoulaye Seck
5 DF  POR Aurélio Buta
6 MF  BEL Birger Verstraete
7 FW  DEN Viktor Fischer
9 FW  CGO Guy Mbenza
10 MF  BEL Michel-Ange Balikwisha
11 MF  COD Nill De Pauw
12 DF  COD Luete Ava Dongo
14 MF  BEL Manuel Benson
15 MF  CMR Frank Boya
16 MF  BEL Pieter Gerkens
17 DF  BEL Robbe Quirynen
18 DF  FRA Yassine Ben Hamed
No. Pos. Nation Player
19 MF  JPN Koji Miyoshi
22 FW  ANG Bruny Nsimba
23 MF  GHA Opoku Ampomah (on loan from Fortuna Düsseldorf)
25 MF  BEL Alexis De Sart
26 GK  BEL Ortwin De Wolf
33 MF  BEL Louis Verstraete
34 MF  BEL Jelle Bataille
38 MF  BEL Faris Haroun (Captain)
43 MF  BEL Sander Coopman
61 DF  POR Dinis Almeida
71 GK  CRO Davor Matijaš
90 FW  CAN Jules-Anthony Vilsaint
99 FW   SUI Michael Frey
MF  NGA Alhassan Yusuf
FW  CMR Didier Lamkel Zé

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
1 GK  IRN Alireza Beiranvand (at Boavista)
18 MF  CMR Martin Hongla (at Hellas Verona)
No. Pos. Nation Player
40 DF  NGA Junior Pius (at Sint-Truidense)
99 FW  COD Jonathan Bolingi (at Lausanne)

Technical staff

Manager Brian Priske
Assistant Manager Rudi Cossey
Goalkeeping Coach Peder Hansen
Fitness Coach Peter Catteeuw
Match Analyst Jerry Vanacker
Physical Therapist Jan Vandenhouten

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 8 December 2008. Retrieved 7 February 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 24 March 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 8 December 2008. Retrieved 7 February 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.