François 'Swat' Van der Elst, a key player in Anderlecht's European triumphs in the 1970s and a member of Belgium's EURO '80 runners-up squad, has died at the age of 62.
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Belgian football is mourning François 'Swat' Van der Elst, the former Red Devils forward, who has died at the age of 62.
Van Der Elst enjoyed a fine career with Anderlecht, New York Cosmos, West Ham United and Lokeren, and was capped 44 times by Belgium between 1973 and 1983, scoring 14 goals.
A dangerous frontrunner, Van der Elst was a major figure in Anderlecht's European successes of the 1970s. He played in the teams that won the 1976 and 1978 European Cup Winners' Cups, scoring twice in the first final against West Ham, and also lifted two UEFA Super Cups with the Brussels club in those same years. Van Der Elst found the net in both the 1976 Super Cup second leg against Bayern München and the 1978 first leg against Liverpool.
Van Der Elst was also a member of the Belgian side that created a surprise by reaching the 1980 EURO final against West Germany in Rome, and featured in the Red Devils' squad at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. His brother Leo was also a Belgian international.
The Royal Belgian Football Association (URBSFA-KBVB) expressed its "great sadness" at Van der Elst's death.