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Author Topic: Luc Nilis  (Read 1453 times)

Offline Villafirst

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Luc Nilis
« on: November 04, 2019, 04:21:02 PM »
Yesterday's bad injury to Andre Gomes brought back memories of the awful injury to Luc Nilis in 2000. Hopefully Gomes can recover.
I still remember that wonder goal against Chelsea on Luc's debut. He looked to be a class act and I thought this guy will be a hero at VP. Sadly, it wasn't to be....
« Last Edit: November 04, 2019, 04:31:51 PM by Villafirst »

Offline Villafirst

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 06:14:30 PM »
Anyone tech savvy who can upload that wonder goal from YouTube?

Offline PeterWithesShin

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 06:18:28 PM »

Offline Villafirst

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 06:38:12 PM »
Thanks PWS. What a goal! So sad that Luc had such misfortune. I'm convinced he would've been a Villa legend!  Still, he left us with one great strike to savour!

Offline Exeter 77

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2019, 09:46:17 PM »
Luc Nilis scored another goal for Villa against Marila Program/Dukla Pribram/Dukla Prague a couple of weeks before in the Intertoto Cup at The Hawthorns but I can't find ant footage of it.

Offline SoccerHQ

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 12:45:56 AM »
He was very good for PSV in late 90s, had a good combination with Van Nistelrooy in the number 10 role. Pretty sure he also scored a couple when Belgium knocked ROI in 98 world cup play offs.

When he signed no one had really heard of him and lots was made of his age as we did have a habit of signing players over 30 at that time (Ginola and Merson). You could see in the Chelsea game he had that touch of class, was in the Holte for the Chelsea game so had a great view of his volley.

Could've been a Bergkamp type signing for us, shame he never got to link up with Angel who signed four months later.

Offline PeterWithesShin

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2019, 01:08:01 AM »
I was really pleased when we signed and told all my mates he'd be great.

It was however all completely based on him being ace in a PS football manager game I played to death. Think it was Premier Manager 98.

Offline SoccerHQ

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 11:46:38 PM »
Scored a very nice goal in that Irish play off at old Lansdowne road.


Offline OCD

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2020, 12:40:16 PM »
Interview with Nilis in The Athletic.

Luc Nilis exclusive: ‘I almost lost my leg, I was in a dark place, a deep hole’


By Gregg Evans 7h ago 13
“I was in a dark place, a deep black hole”, Luc Nilis says, his voice softening. “It was trauma.”

Some days, simply getting out of bed would be a struggle. The joys of three young children couldn’t even make him smile and his marriage had fallen apart.

“It was not a messy split, but, yes, it came as a follow-up from the mental rollercoaster I had been on. When football was taken away from me, I missed it so much that I fell into the black gap. It was mental torture. Every day for a very long time.”

Twenty years have passed and still the horrific circumstances around Nilis’ early retirement make for uncomfortable discussion.

It had all started so well for Nilis at Aston Villa. After signing from PSV Eindhoven, the Belgian scored a stunning goal against Chelsea in his first league match at Villa Park.

Just two games later, his world was turned upside down when he suffered a career-ending injury at Ipswich Town. In a collision with goalkeeper Richard Wright, Nilis sustained a double fracture of the shin and almost had to have his right leg amputated due to the complications thereafter. It was a defining moment for all the wrong reasons and the catalyst for years of hurt.

Just thinking about Aston Villa, his fourth and final club, used to be too painful for the striker.

“I isolated myself a lot back then. For a long time, I didn’t want to remember anything about them,” he tells The Athletic.

He says he will never return to Portman Road, the ground where he played his last ever football match. “It’s not a place I ever want to be again”, he adds.


Nilis only made three league appearances for Villa (Photo: Clive Mason /Allsport)
Nilis, who had been prolific in the Netherlands, was signed by John Gregory who put together the perfect sales pitch to convince him to join. The 53-year-old recalls: “He knew my game inside out”. Liverpool were interested and there were lucrative offers from Spain and France, but a two-year contract at Villa appealed.

He immediately hit the ground running and scored a goal on his debut against Czech side FK Pribram in the Intertoto Cup. Team-mate Ian Taylor tells The Athletic: “What we saw from Luc in training and during the few games he played for us was special. He could have been a top striker for us.”

He really was the cult claret and blue hero that never was.

Having scored 266 club career goals before joining Villa, there was a buzz around his arrival in the Premier League when he joined the FA Cup finalists. Ronaldo, his former strike partner at PSV, described the Belgian as the best he played with.

“I’ve played with big players like Figo, Romario, Zidane, Rivaldo, Djorkaeff and Raul, but it clicked best with Nilis, with whom I played at PSV,” Ronaldo once remarked. Sublimely two-footed, Nilis was not only a great goalscorer but also a scorer of stunning goals.

He was fun to watch and that his final strike as a professional was so memorable now feels like a fitting end to a career that was so cruelly cut short.

“Two years at least,” says Nilis when asked how long he expected to grace the Premier League before that dark and depressing day back in September 2000, when he was just 33 years old.

And what about that strike where he nipped past Frank Leboeuf, flicked the ball up with his right foot and volleyed in with his left?

“It’s what I was born to do,” he says proudly. “I scored an amazing goal and that’s why I was a football player, to try to have these moments in important games. The supporters saw me as an amazing player after that and I was treated like a God from there on in.”



Nilis enjoyed socialising as much as he did performing on the pitch. It’s why he wanted to celebrate his debut Villa goal with a night on the town alongside two friends who had visited from Belgium.

New to the area and unfamiliar with the Birmingham nightlife scene, the striker leaned on the advice of a well-known party boy at the club.

“Our No 10 was very helpful…what’s his name…he was very famous at Aston Villa?” Nilis asks, scratching his head.

Paul Merson?

“Paul Merson! That’s him. What a guy. He said, there’s only one place to go for a drink tonight. It was a disco. He told me to walk past all the people waiting in the road, to go straight up to the bodyguards, say his (Merson’s) name and that I played for Villa. I felt awkward doing it but the big guy on the door just let us in and gave us the best table in the disco. We had a brilliant time so I thank Paul Merson for those memories.”

Nilis asks what Merson is up to these days and beams when learning he is still working in football as a pundit.

He is devastated to hear of Ugo Ehiogu’s passing but delighted for his old captain, Gareth Southgate, who is now the manager of England. “He always had those managerial traits. He was a real leader.”

Nilis wants to know more about George Boateng, Villa’s current under-23 coach. “He was the only player who could speak Dutch when I joined. He’s a gentleman, a really good guy. I thank George for his support in the early days.”

Interestingly, former Villa defender Alpay called Nilis, now the assistant manager at Turkish side Ankaragucu earlier this month, too. “He’s an important politician in Ankara and we’re meeting up soon so that will be nice. It’s a small world, right?”

Even smaller, it would seem, from his hospital bed in Ipswich all those years ago when a career filled with brilliance was cut short.

Grainy clips of the collision still exist online. Strike partner Dion Dublin flicks on a header and Nilis is sent through for what would have been his second goal in three games.

“In all the years that I played, I always looked at the goalkeeper first when I was going into a moment like that,” he explains. “I know that I watched him before Dion takes a header and the ball goes in the air. At that moment he was on his goal line. Then he came out, I just missed him for one second.”

The pair collide and Wright’s physical presence leaves Nilis in a heap on the floor. Was it a foul?

”No, we both looked to the ball. He has the intention to shoot the ball away up front and I had the intention to score. We were both going for the ball not each other. I’ve seen it back many times. It was a football accident.”

What about a similar incident that occurred in the Premier League recently when Everton’s Jordan Pickford collided into Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, leaving the Dutchman with a serious knee injury?

“The difference now is that you see so many different camera angles and there’s always one that makes it look worse than it probably is. I never think the goalkeeper wants to hit him on his knee. He wants to go for the ball.”

luc-nilis
Nilis has moved into coaching after his playing career was cut short (Photo: ANP Sport via Getty Images)
The image of Nilis writhing in pain as he disappeared off the Portman Road pitch on a stretcher is the final sighting that Villa fans were given of a striker who offered so much promise.

That day was also the beginning of a long personal battle for Nilis. He required immediate surgery on his leg but that was only the start.

“After the operation there were lots of complications,” he explains. “There was no blood circulation in my leg so I almost lost it. I was very scared. In the end they had to operate again because my leg was dying. They had to make two big gaps to get my leg to bleed again so the circulation could start.

“After the (second) operation the doctor told me how close I was to losing my leg. It was hard to take in. Eventually, they would slowly close the gaps, day by day, but the damage was done.”

Two weeks in hospital followed.

“Richard Wright came in the next day but I didn’t want to see him,” Nilis reveals. “Then he came back again and again, and when I had a clear mind of what was happening, I said, ‘Don’t worry, I don’t blame you’. He was really happy that I didn’t blame him and I still don’t blame him. The Ipswich owner, (David) Sheepshanks, also came to visit me twice. Sheepshanks, I’ll never forget that name. It was nice of him to visit.”

In the months after the injury, four independent medical reports provided the same damning verdict: his days as a professional footballer were over. The muscles in his right leg were too damaged and while Villa covered the cost of the insurance premium, he was now back in Belgium and a broken man.

With his Premier League dream in tatters, Nilis began to wallow in self-pity.

“Having to sign the papers (in January 2001) to say I couldn’t play football anymore was devastating,” he says. “It was definitely the most black day in my life. I felt like I was born with the football in my bed, then in one second I have to sign that I could never play again. Mentally it was very hard to get over this.”

Daily tasks became a struggle both physically and mentally. Fatherhood was tough and his marriage suffered. Football was previously his stimulant and his major focus in life. When he was out playing, he was at his happiest and it made everything else feel complete. Without football, there was a void and he felt lost.

“Sir Bobby Robson (his old manager at PSV) used to tell me to be proud to be a footballer,” Nilis explains. “I was so lucky to have worked under him for a year. He was an amazing man. He would tell me to go and enjoy it, to show the people who come to watch you that you are enjoying the game, because they will then enjoy you then.

“I never forgot that when I was playing. I was always a positive person. I always helped other people and encouraged others. But after the injury it was so difficult to bring my mind back to a good space to think positively. I quickly fell into a depression.”

Nilis’ rehabilitation period lasted four years. He progressed slowly from walking to cycling and then running. There were dark days, lonely days, and times where he wondered what his purpose was. Could he ever be happy again?

“For a long time, I didn’t think I could,” he adds.

Eventually, after years of struggle, when he got the ball back at his feet around the age of 37 he could smile again, but it was never the same as before.

“My physiotherapist was probably the man who saved me,“ he says. “He told me that I must get out of bed every morning to visit him otherwise I will end up living like somebody with one leg for the rest of my life.

“He not only helped me walk again, but also get my life back on track. He said that for every day I don’t get out of bed, he will be there to pick me up.”

Some things were never repaired, though. He divorced from his wife in 2009 but it remained civil, partly because of their children.

A coaching career in football followed and allowed him to get some of the buzz back. His first job was as an assistant manager in Turkey with Kasimpasa, then as the striker coach at his former club PSV, who welcomed him back with open arms. He also had a role at VVV-Venlo.

Now he’s back in Turkey with his girlfriend of ten years and enjoying his current role.

“I cannot live without football,” he says. “It’s my life. I lost my life after that injury but I have picked it back up. I have found a good new spirit.”

Slowly, he’s also starting to look back on his time at Villa with a hint of fondness.

Playing at Anfield in the second of his three games was a “dream come true”, even if it was Michael Owen getting the goals with a sublime hat-trick in a 3-0 win.

He also tells a funny story about boss Gregory jokingly pulling up his two friends for smoking inside Villa Park as they were granted rare access to a training session. “You just never knew whether the boss was being serious or not,” he laughs.

There is still unfinished business, though, and also a few regrets.

That he couldn’t remember Merson’s name or wasn’t aware of Ehiogu’s passing was largely because he has tried to block that part of his life away for so long.

“The players called me a lot when I was in the hospital and also when I got back to Belgium but I didn’t want to talk,” he says. “I had to build up a new life and when things move on, you don’t pick up the phone.”

Villa have never forgotten the small but memorable contribution he made. His wonder goal is regularly rolled out on official social media channels, and back in 2016 ex-strikers Rudy Gestede, Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew tried to recreate the strike in a special feature.

Nilis is considering a return in the future. It’s a big step, considering that he hasn’t been back for 20 years.

“I am 53 now, so I hope I can visit back one day,” Nilis adds.

“It needs to be when it’s a full house. I want to experience that full atmosphere inside Villa Park again. I wanted so much more of it but it was taken away from me too soon.”

Source - https://theathletic.com/2162358/2020/10/28/luc-nilis-aston-villa/?source=dailyemail

Offline Martin Carruthers

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2020, 12:47:18 PM »
Either Ronaldo or Romario (can't remember which) said he was the best striker he played with from their time at PSV.

Offline OCD

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2020, 02:26:47 PM »
Ronaldo. He said he clicked with him better than anyone he's played with. It's mentioned in the above article.

Offline Martin Carruthers

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2020, 02:47:18 PM »
So it is, missed that....

Offline cdbullyweefan

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2020, 05:28:13 PM »
I thought Nilis had already been back to Villa Park? Sure I remember him waving to the crowd, maybe a few months or a year or two after his retirement was confirmed. Anyway, good luck to him. Didn't realise Alpay was in politics, either. He seems to be one of that twat Erdoğan's party though, sadly.

Offline dave.woodhall

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2020, 05:34:51 PM »
I thought Nilis had already been back to Villa Park? Sure I remember him waving to the crowd, maybe a few months or a year or two after his retirement was confirmed. Anyway, good luck to him. Didn't realise Alpay was in politics, either. He seems to be one of that twat Erdoğan's party though, sadly.

He walked round the pitch, while Dave Ismay told the crowd we'd had the good news that the insurance money had come through. Classy to the last, Ismay.

Offline shirley_villan

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Re: Luc Nilis
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2020, 06:38:30 PM »
I thought Nilis had already been back to Villa Park? Sure I remember him waving to the crowd, maybe a few months or a year or two after his retirement was confirmed. Anyway, good luck to him. Didn't realise Alpay was in politics, either. He seems to be one of that twat Erdoğan's party though, sadly.

I’m thinking it was at HT in that League Cup QF against Liverpool but might be completely wrong? I’m sure he came on and made a short speech.

 


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