The Belgian character known internationally as “the crazy Fan of the Red Devils supporting them anywhere in the world”, enters the room, this time as Nicolas. His costume in black, yellow and red is meticulously prepared for the next games of the National Team. On Friday 7th September 2018 (20:45) the Red Devils play a friendly game against Scotland in Glasgow, followed by the first Nations League match against Iceland on Tuesday 11th September 2018 (20:45) in Reykjavik.
“We have a high status now and the match against Scotland will be a great way to warm up. On the other hand, Iceland has got a strong team because they play together. Belgium has got great individuals but to be the best we need to play like one.”
Exclusive interview with Obelgix – the spirit of the Belgian Red Devils
“I’m certainly not the best fan because all the fans are the best but I want to be a strong representative of the Belgian spirit.”
How was oBELgix born?
I started dressing for the World Cup in Brazil, changing my costume for every game and that caused a big buzz in the international media. My friends were always asking me what my next dress is. After this, in the beginning of 2016 Belgium had a Friendly match with France and I was in Paris. For that game, I wanted to pick a French character that is really popular in France and transform it into the Belgium flag. I quickly bought a costume of Obelix on Amazon but it was in white and blue. I used black, yellow and red spray cans to paint it but it was far from professional. When I was walking on the Champs Elysees, I had an idea to buy a chicken – the famous “Symbol” of France and eat it at the stadium, because of course, Obelix likes his food. We were so good at that game, we beat France 4:3. On the next day I appeared on every newspaper with the chicken. Everyone reacted positively and laughed a lot, even some of the French people.
I decided to keep the character, because Obelix has a character with a strong personality, just as I do, but because he is from Belgium, I decided to call it OBelgix and since then, he became my trade mark. If I have to describe him in 3 words: he is impressive, never afraid and very symbolic of Belgium because Belgium people like having fun. We don’t care about what others say and enjoy life.
Who made your costume?
I realized that I need a more professionally made costume. My wife’s mum is a very good sewer and we chose special fabrics. On top of that I added a belt with a clasp with the logo of the Belgium National team – the Red Trident I made myself in a 3D format with a help from a designer. My name is also written, so people who see me for the first time know that this is not simply Obelix.
Did you inspire some of your friends to become heroes?
A friend of mine is dressing now like asBelgix, and a colleague is dressing like faBelga. A whole group of people.
You went to the Football World Cup in Russia, what experience did it bring to you?
For every game I was going back and forth to Belgium. I used to take the early flight at 4 o’clock in the morning and travel home early on the next day to be at work on time and manage my two companies. These two weeks were extremely busy…
I was a little bit afraid before going to Russia but I thought that the country did a great job in terms of security. That was my main concern because we heard about groups of hooligans and fights between fans. But in the end I’m glad there weren’t any problems. The organization in the stadium was well-managed, only the traffic to the stadium was horrible. The Russians were very welcoming and I felt like they enjoyed having us in the city.
Did you expect such popularity? A lot of people are congratulating you on the look in your Facebook page and Twitter.
I had no idea I’d gain such popularity but I knew that this would attract attention. On every world cup, people from different countries proudly use national symbols to create amazing costumes and it is almost a competition who will have the most quirky one. I saw someone dressed in a Belgium waffle and another one with the Belgian fries and huge cheese on their head. Another person had a whole body installation in the shape of the Atomium.
When I went to Brussels “Big Market Place,” to celebrate with the players, their wonderful worldcup, I suddenly had a lot of fans who wanted to take pictures with me and I felt like a superstar. Once a group of people were throwing me in the air and some people asked me for an autograph, but I thought that this is a bit exaggerated. The people even started to recognize me without the costume on the street and in restaurants.
Have you met the team?
My next goal is to meet the Belgium team. I met the CEO of the Belgium team – Gérard Linard and he liked very much my costume and the character of oBelgix. I told him I wanted to be useful to the national team. For instance, I really want to improve our songs because sometimes we sing in Dutch, sometimes we sing in French, but there should be a song that unites us. A song that gives you goose bumps. A real sensation.
The cartoons of me were made by Pad’r. I thought it would be great to illustrate Obelgix giving the “potion magique”(the magical potion) to the players. The caricaturist drew them and I printed them straightaway at the last minute and went directly to the stadium with a big poster.
What was the most memorable game for you?
The one with Japan because we were losing 0:2 and then we scored 3 goals. We were altogether and the atmosphere was indescribable. We stayed for 2 hours on the top of the game. A moment I’ll never forget.
The other one was beating the famous Brazilian national team. It was a tough match but after this we had the feeling we could win the world cup and we regret that we didn’t. Nevertheless, it was important to have the third place. Otherwise, we would have been very disappointed.
Who is the person behind Obelgix?
I’m originally from the French part of Belgium, 30 km away from Brussels. For the last 10 years, I’ve been working in recruitment and today I have two companies – a recruitment agency, “D-Network” and “ProUnity” – a digital platform for freelancers from all kinds.
Have you always been passionate about the game?
I’ve been playing football since I was 4 years old. Unfortunately, I broke my knee but even after that I continued. I’ve been practicing for many years, playing in different clubs in Belgium and abroad, where my studies and work brought me: Spain, Mexico, France and USA.
But you always come back to Belgium?
I’ve lived in so many places but I’ve never had the feeling that I was going to be happier than in Brussels. Belgium people are really friendly, so expat people get a good feeling when they arrive here. They don’t feel “like a number”, they feel integrated. This is Brussels – the diversity is very important for us. Also the city is not too expensive compared to other capitals. And most importantly there is less stress because everything is within arms’ reach.