The Belgian goalkeeper with a stranger World Cup story than Maradona

If you’re ever given the opportunity to play in the World Cup, you take it with both hands. That much is obvious, right? Wrong. If your name is Jean-Marie Pfaff, a Belgian goalkeeper, apparently the correct course of action is to accidentally bugger everything up for both yourself and your teammates; sounds like he wouldn’t be first for a call up on a stag do.

The incident in reference took place back at the 1982 edition of the tournament, you know, back when Belgium were actually alright. The formerly mentioned, Pfaff, was one of the shining lights for the Red Devils throughout the early stages of the competition, helping to guide his nation to an impressive victory over Argentina.

So naturally what you need to do following such an impressive feat is drop the goalkeeper who got you there, aka Pfaff. This was baffling for a number of reasons – one: his name was hilarious and you shouldn’t even dream of dropping someone with that much comedy value, and two: he was absolutely incredible.

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But it soon became apparent that this wasn’t just another news story or behind the scenes scuffle. Allegedly, Pfaff was starting to get a little bit too big for his boots following a move to Bayern Munich prior to the World Cup.

So during a pool party at the team’s hotel, famous Belgian radio commentator, Jan Wauters, took it upon himself to push good old Jean-Marie into the water. Seems amusing enough, although it is better suited to a bunch of eight year olds, but fair play.

The only issue was that Pfaff couldn’t bloody swim. Upon being rescued from what must’ve felt like the Atlantic Ocean, the man in question composed himself, tried to remain calm and when asked about the incident by the media simply stated that he was only pretending to drown. Seems normal enough.

But then things took yet another odd turn. In the final group game against Hungary, Pfaff attempted to clear a cross before inadvertently hitting his captain, Eric Gerets. The full-back was literally unconscious and an ambulance was called, however there was no room at the inn so to speak as Pfaff had already acquired it’s services due to a shoulder injury that turned out to be a load of shite.

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The now shamed ‘keeper was left out of the next game in which Belgium suffered a 3-0 loss to Poland, but the manager refused to bow to the pressure of putting Pfaff back in the side and they went on to lose to the USSR, causing them to be eliminated from the tournament.

There’s no real moral to this story to be perfectly honest. Everyone will have their regrets looking back on the incident, and from an outside perspective looking in it’s all a bit ridiculous really. Oh well, hopefully the now-63-year-old, Jean-Marie Pfaff, knows how to do a doggy paddle at the very least.


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