1974-1978: The era of the 'Weltmeister'

Ernst Happel was born in 1925. At the tender age of 13, he joined Rapid Wien and was selected for the senior team when he was just 16.  After a short while, he was nicknamed ‘Weltmeister’. He played 51 international games with Austria, and the absolute highpoint of his career as a player was the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. Ernst Happel, 48 years old and at that time coach of the Spanish side Sevilla, became the number one topic highlighted in bright yellow for the meeting of the Board of Directors, which was to convene on 21 January 1974. At that very night, the management of the club decided to appoint Ernst Happel as its new head coach.

And a wise decision that was! Ernst Happel held the reigns at Club until December 1978, and assembled a striking List of Honours: league champions in 1976, 1977 and 1978; Belgian Cup winners in 1977;  Uefa Cup Final against Liverpool in 1976; Champions’ Cup Final against Liverpool in the impressive Wembley Stadium in 1978.
The European Cup Final at Wembley just played, he also became the national team coach of the Dutch team at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where it reached the finals and was beaten by home team Argentina after extra time. After his very successful period at Club Brugge, he was also employed by second division team Harelbeke, Standard de Liège  and Hamburg SV.

1974-1978: The era of the 'Weltmeister'
1974-1978: The era of the 'Weltmeister'

Happel puts Club back on European track

In 1974-1975 the ‘stars’ were replaced by youth and experience. Youth came in the form of René Vandereycken, experience through players the likes of Jos Volders, Roger Van Gool and Eddy Caers. Reinforcement also came from abroad, with such players as Birger Jensen and Hans Aabech.
Club Brugge came in fourth that season, which earned them a European ticket for the next season. This would be the start of a glorious European campaign that is still regarded as one of the foremost highlights in Club’s history, when it was challenged by Lyon, Ipswich Town, AS Roma, AC Milan, Hamburg SV and FC Liverpool, all great European teams at that time.

Towards Olympia

On the third match day of the season 1975-1976, Club Brugge made its debut on the pitch of the brand new Olympia Stadium, in a game against RWD Molenbeek. At that occasion, René Vandereycken had the honour of scoring the first league goal ever at Olympia Stadium. 

Despite a goalless draw against Lokeren, Club again became league champions at the end of this season, as Anderlecht did not do any better against Club Luik.  On the European scene, Club was finally paired up with Liverpool in a two-game challenge in the Uefa Cup Final.  At Anfield Road, Club went two goals up, only to lose 3-2, conceding three goals in five minutes. The home leg ended in a draw, so Liverpool won the Uefa Cup.

Club confirms by winning the double: league champions and Belgian Cup winners

During the season 1976-1977, Club Brugge expanded its collection of silverware by becoming Belgian League Champions for the second time in a row. Club had looked for reinforcement before the start of the season and had found it in the form of Paul Courant, Roger Davies, Bernard Verheecke and Leen Barth.  At the end of the season, the List of Honours further grew with Club’s third victory in the Belgian Cup, by beating rivals Anderlecht at the national Heysel Stadium, which was sold out for the first time in Belgian Cup history.

We’re going to Wembley...

With a third consecutive league title, and a visit to the legendary Wembley Stadium for the Champions Cup Final, Ernst Happel kept hoarding in the trophies for Club. Backed by 25,000 blue and black fans, Club Brugge went for glory on the highest European level: the Final of the European Champions Cup, where it met Liverpool for the third time in two years. At the start of the season, Club decided to add some extra force to its attacking department and signed two strikers with the same first name: Jan Sörensen and Jan Simoen.

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