Lei Clijsters
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Lei Clijsters

Lei Clijsters
Personal information
Full name Leo Albert Jozef Clijsters
Date of birth (1956-11-06)6 November 1956
Place of birth Opitter, Belgium
Date of death 4 January 2009(2009-01-04) (aged 52)
Place of death Gruitrode, Belgium
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Centre back
Youth career
1968-1973 Opitter
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1973-1975 Club Brugge 1 (0)
1975-1977 Patro Eisden 29 (1)
1977-1982 Tongeren 167 (22)
1982-1986 Thor Waterschei 119 (6)
1986-1992 Mechelen 174 (13)
1992-1993 FC Liège 21 (0)
Total 511 (42)
National team
1983-1991 Belgium 40 (3)
Teams managed
1993-1994 Patro Eisden
1994-1997 Gent
1998 Lommel SK
1999-2000 Diest
2000 Mechelen
2000-2001 Diest
2007-2008 Tongeren
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Leo Albert Jozef "Lei" Clijsters (6 November 1956 - 4 January 2009) was a Belgian professional footballer, who played as a central defender.

Throughout his extensive senior career, the tough stopper was mainly associated with KV Mechelen, with whom he won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. Also a prominent member of the Belgian national team, he was the father of tennis players Kim[1] and Elke Clijsters.[2]

Club career

Lei Clijsters was born on 6 November 1956 in Opitter, started his football career with local Opitter FC. Later, he played for Club Brugge KV, but left the club after a disappointing two-year stint; he started his career as a midfielder.

Subsequently, Clijsters represented K.S.K. Tongeren, K. Patro Maasmechelen, K. Waterschei S.V. Thor Genk, KV Mechelen and R.F.C. de Liège. With Mechelen, he won the Belgian Cup in 1987, going on to conquer the subsequent UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup. He added the Belgian League in 1988-89, always as club captain.

In 1988, Clijsters also won the Golden Shoe award as league's MVP, and eventually retired with Liège at almost 37. Immediately, he starting working as a manager with former club Patro Eisden, then moving to K.A.A. Gent,[3]K.F.C. Lommel S.K. (July-December 1998), K. Tesamen Hogerop Diest (two spells, in 1999-2000 and November 2000 - June 2001) and Mechelen (July-November 2000).

Clijsters was endorsed by Diadora.[4]

Afterwards, Clijsters managed the professional tennis career of his daughter Kim. After her retirement, "Lei" became coach of third division club Tongeren, with which he had also played, in October 2007. He resigned in January 2008, after his family announced that he was suffering from a serious illness. Details were kept secret, but in February the Belgian press reported it to be metastatic melanoma[5] and that treatment was not working.[2]

International career

Clijsters played in 40 international matches for the Belgian national team, participating at UEFA Euro 1984 and the 1986 and 1990 FIFA World Cups.

In the 1986 edition, as Belgium reached the last four, he only appeared in two matches (being used as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Iraq and the famous round of 16 4-3 victory over the USSR.

In 1990, Clijsters saw action against South Korea (2-0 win), Uruguay (in which he scored a stunning header in a 3-1 triumph[6]) and England (lost 0-1 after extra time).

Personal life

Clijsters was married to Els Vandecaetsbeek until 2005.[7]


On 4 January 2009, Leo Clijsters succumbed to an illness at age 52.[8][9] Upon his death, Belgian newspapers like Het Laatste Nieuws revealed that he suffered from a recurrence of melanoma which had spread to the lungs and other organs, having already experienced a bout of this condition twenty-five years earlier.[10]



KV Mechelen[11]






  1. ^ Lei Clijsters: "Je ne lis que des ragots" (Lei Clijsters: "I read nothing but rumours"); DH, 3 May 2007 (in French)
  2. ^ a b Clijsters a baby mamma - and her mamma's a baby mamma too Archived 27 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine; The Gazette, 18 March 2008
  3. ^ "Beknopte geschiedenis van KAA Gent" (in Dutch). KAA Gent. Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ Kroichick, Ron (27 July 2003). "Capriati, Clijsters reach final / Compelling matchup looms for Bank of the West title". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ Kim Clijsters maman d'une petite fille (Kim Clijsters mother of a baby girl) Archived 13 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine; My Free Sport (in French)
  6. ^ Belgium - Uruguay match report; FIFA.com
  7. ^ Hughes, Rob (6 January 2009). "Farewell to the tranquil captain". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Father of Kim Clijsters dies; Sports Illustrated, 4 January 2009
  9. ^ Belgium mourns Clijsters; UEFA.com
  10. ^ Lei Clijsters overleden aan huidkanker (Lei Clijsters dies of skin cancer) Archived 6 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine; HLN, 4 January 2009 (in Dutch)
  11. ^ "KV Mechelen | Geschiedenis".
  12. ^ "Belgium - List of Cup Finals".
  13. ^ "Amsterdam Tournament".
  14. ^ "Uitslagen van de Joan Gamper Trophy".
  15. ^ "Le Trophée Pappaert".
  16. ^ "FIFA 1986 World Cup".
  17. ^ "OVERZICHT. Wie waren de voorgangers van Gouden Schoen-winnaar Matias Suarez?". Het Nieuwsblad. 11 January 2012. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  18. ^ UEFA.com (15 January 2004). "Aruna voted Belgium's finest | Inside UEFA". UEFA.com. Retrieved 2020.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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