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Some Famous Belgians

Noel Godin

Known as "L'Entarteur", this self-styled pie-throwing anarchist targets the self-important and pretentious. His most celebrated scalp is that of Bill Gates, who was robbed of his dignity at an EU conference in Brussels in 1998.


Eddy Merckx

Five times winner of the Tour de France between 1969 and 1974. Nicknamed "The Cannibal" because of his predatory tactics.


Adolphe Sax

Dinant-born inventor of the saxophone.


Jean-Marc Bosman

Footballer whose attempted move from RFC Liège to Dunkirk was blocked by his club, leading him to instigate a restriction-of-trade lawsuit which resulted in huge ramifications for the European transfer market. Players brought to a club while out-of-contract are now said to have been "picked up on a Bosman".


René Magritte

Surrealist painter (1898-1967) whose most famous work includes Ceci N'est Pas Une Pipe.


Jacques Brel

Influential composer/cabaret singer (1929-1979) whose songs dealing with ordinary life have been brought to a new audience by artists such as David Bowie & Marc Almond.


Georges Simenon

Creator of Inspector Maigret and accomplished sexual boaster.


Plastique Bertrand

Punkster whose only British hit was Ca Plane Pour Moi in 1978. This luckless gent's lot has been to be frequently cited as evidence that French pop music is rubbish.


Hergé

Creator of Tintin cartoon.


Thierry Boutsen

Formula One driver who won three Grands Prix including a notoriously defensive drive in Hungary in 1990 when he held off Ayrton Senna for the entire race.


Audrey Hepburn

The Hollywood star (1929-1993), who won an Oscar for Roman Holiday, was born in Brussels.


Jean-Claude Van Damme

Action film star, "the Muscles from Brussels".


Justine Henin

Tennis player, winner of seven Grand Slam titles. Retired in 2008 aged 25, while ranked World No.1, but has since re-emerged.


Kim Clijsters

Tennis player, winner of US Open in 2005.


James Ensor

Ostend painter (d.1949) of The Entry of Christ into Brussels, and other works involving skeletons, masks and general grotesquery.


Jacky Ickx

Formula One and sports car driver, winner of eight Grands Prix and runner-up in the Drivers' Championship in 1970.


English Premier League players

After a decade in the doldrums, you'd be forgiven for suggesting that Belgium will dominate world football for years to come. The nation's hearts swelled with pride as Vincent Kompany lifted the 2012 EPL trophy for Manchester City (I bet the Belgians were chuffed too). Other players of note are Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Moussa Dembélé (Spurs), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) and Simon Mignolet (Liverpool).


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