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1991-1997: Gentleman Hugo Broos

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In his first year at Club Brugge as a trainer, things could not have gone better for Hugo Broos. Blauw-zwart put a ninth chalk mark as Belgian champions to its List of Honours and reached the semi-finals of EC II against Werder Bremen.

Having qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Austria Wien, Club Brugge raked in the millions of old Belgian francs that came with it, and so it was in euphoric spirits that the season 1992-1993 was kicked off. For the first time, René Verheyen was assistant coach alongside Hugo Broos. It was as if the season was perfect from the onset and nothing could happen, while in fact nothing at all had been achieved yet. The first half of the season produced some decent games, abroad as well as in the home league, but at the turn of the year things were going downhill slowly but surely.  Ending in 6th position, Club did not even qualify for the Uefa Cup.

Free from international obligations, the 1993-1994 campaign would have to be better, as the team was able to focus solely on the league and on the cup competition. For a long time, it looked as if Club would become first of the class yet again, until a couple of games before the end of the competition, a lost away game at FC Liège (a club that has since withdrawn from competition) called in the demise for Hugo Broos and his troops. To make matters even worse, Club went down 2-0 at Sclessin Stadium in the Cup Final against Anderlecht. In the end, a Uefa Cup ticket was the most Club could get out of this season.

The season 1994-1995 was again filled with excitement and suspense. Until the very last match day of the season, three teams were in the running for the league title, but ultimately Club finished third. In the European Cup Winners’ Cup, the blue and black army survived the hell of Panathinaikos in Athens, but Club eventually stranded on Chelsea, who got the better of Club in the Quarter Finals. They did, however, manage to get another trophy: in the Cup Final against Germinal Ekeren, Club won by 3 goals to 1, thus taking the Cup to Bruges once again. 

Claiming among others fourteen consecutive league victories, Club was top of the league again in the season 1995-1996. The fact that Paul Okon won the Gouden Schoen/Golden Boot gave a season that was already one in a million that extra bit of panache. No such bright skies on the European scene, as Club was eliminated in the 1/16th Finals of the Uefa Cup after being defeated by Real Zaragoza. 

At the dawn of the season 1996-1997, Club’s representatives frowned when the name of Steaua Bucharest came out of the hat as opponents at the draw of the Champions League preliminaries, and the opposition indeed proved to be too strong. Club was knocked down to the Uefa Cup, where the adventure ended in the 1/8th Finals where Schalke proved too strong. A new league title seemed up for grabs, but to everyone’s surprise, it was Lierse, the team of Club’s next coach, Eric Gerets, who went for gold and denied Club its 11th title.