Steven Defour


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1988 (31 years old)

Birth Place
Mechelen, Belgium


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English Premier League

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Steven Arnold Defour (born 15 April 1988) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Burnley.

In his senior career he played for Genk, Standard Liège, Porto, Anderlecht and Burnley, winning nine honours with the second and third teams combined.

Defour earned his first cap for Belgium in 2006, and represented the nation in the 2014 World Cup.

Club career
Racing Genk
Born in Mechelen, Defour played youth football with local KV Mechelen, moving to K.R.C. Genk in 2004 due to the club's financial difficulties. He made his Pro League debut during the 2004–05 season and, at just 17, became first-choice, finishing the 2005–06 campaign with 26 games and one goal to help his team to the fifth position.

When Genk failed to qualify for European competition, Defour tried to move to AFC Ajax in the summer of 2006. Genk, enraged by earlier reports that the Dutch team had approached the player to broker a deal without their consent, did not accept the proposed transfer fee and after protracted negotiations Ajax pulled out of the deal. Defour tried to force a transfer by threatening to leave, using a Belgian law that allowed professional athletes on fixed-term contracts to leave their employers before the end of the stipulated term, but Ajax did not express a renewed interest in his services and he ended up signing for Standard Liège for a much-reduced transfer fee, effectively breaking a gentlemen's agreement between Belgian sides not to sign under-contract players using the aforementioned law.

Standard Liège
Defour joined Standard on a five-year deal, being appointed team captain at the start of his second year after taking over from Portugal's Sérgio Conceição – he was just 19 years old. He received the Belgian Golden Shoe at the end of the season in the process, leading the Reds to their first league title in 25 years.

In late 2009, shortly after scoring four goals in 31 games to help Standard renew its domestic supremacy, Defour broke his right foot. During his period of recovery he received a letter from Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, wishing him all the best in his recovery, and this led to persistent rumours of a switch to the English club, but he refuted these by saying "I do know that Manchester United are monitoring me – if everything goes well and I continue playing as I am, there is a better chance of me leaving than there was at the start of the season"; eventually, nothing came of it.


Defour playing for Porto in 2013
On 15 August 2011, Portuguese club FC Porto agreed with Standard Liége to buy the sporting rights of Defour for €6 million, and he signed a five-year contract. He finished his first year with 37 appearances all competitions comprised and added two goals, helping his new team win the Primeira Liga championship.

On 18 September 2012, Defour netted Porto's second goal against GNK Dinamo Zagreb, in the season's Champions League group stage (2–0 away win). On 13 March of the following year, for the same competition but in the round-of-16, he was booked twice and subsequently sent off in the 49th minute of the second leg of the tie at Málaga CF, as the northerners lost 0–2 at La Rosaleda Stadium and 1–2 on aggregate.

On 13 August 2014, Defour signed a five-year deal with R.S.C. Anderlecht, for €6 million. On 25 January of the following year, when playing at Standard Liège, he was sent off for deliberately kicking the ball at home fans who had unfurled a banner depicting his severed head under the slogan "Red or Dead". His ejection caused the visiting supporters to rip out their seats and throw them onto the pitch, and the banner received criticism from both the Royal Belgian Football Association and the league.

On 16 August 2016, Defour signed for Premier League club Burnley for a club-record transfer fee of £8 million. He made his competitive debut four days later, starting in a 2–0 home win over Liverpool in which he helped create the second goal by Andre Gray but was substituted early in the second half due to a lack of fitness. On 10 September, also at Turf Moor, he scored his first goal for his new team to open a 1–1 draw with fellow promotee Hull City, and was praised after the match by manager Sean Dyche.

International career

Defour lining-up for Belgium in 2011
Defour made his debut for the Belgian senior team in May 2006, aged just 18. He scored his first goal on 6 September 2008, in a 3–2 win against Estonia at his club ground the Stade Maurice Dufrasne for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Defour scored once in three appearances in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, opening a 2–0 win away to Scotland on 6 September 2013. He was selected for the finals in Brazil by manager Marc Wilmots, making his debut in the competition on 26 June in the third group stage match against South Korea after Belgium had already won their first two outings and sealed qualification, and was sent off in the last minute of the first half of the eventual 1–0 success after a rash tackle on Kim Shin-wook.

On 25 May 2018, 30-year-old Defour announced his retirement from international football.

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