Whatever happened to Pat Van Den Hauwe?

Name a Belgian born footballer to have played internationally for Wales. Struggling? How about one of Everton’s favourite sons, one of the rocks on which the 1985 and 1987 title winning sides were built upon? As part of our heroes and villains week, we look at a cult figure who was been almost forgotten in the fifteen years he has been off the big stage.

It is rare when writing one of these articles to stumble across a man who has achieved so much during his playing career yet has since slipped back into anonymity to the extent that Pat Van Den Hauwe has since bowing out of English football when the Premier League was still in its infancy.

Initially born in Dendermonde, Belgium, Van Den Hauwe was brought to England, and at 17 signed his first professional contract with Birmingham City. Six years at St Andrews for the no nonsense left back indicated to then Toffees manager, Howard Kendall, that he had the talent to cope with the upper echelons of what was then Division One.

A move to Goodison Park in time for the 1984-85 season, saw the Belgian become a key element of the robust Everton outfit that took the domestic and European scene by storm that year. The Cup Winners’ Cup triumph over Rapid Vienna that year capped a magnificent rise for Van Den Hauwe, by this time affectionately known by fans as ‘Psycho Pat.’

In an Everton shirt, Van Den Hauwe has the distinction of scoring the goal to bring the league title back to Goodison Park for the second time in three years with a strike against Norwich City in 1987. As his time at Everton continued, the mystery and aura around the now Welsh international began to intensify. Andy Gray would later describe the defender as “evil” in his autobiography, although in a recent interview with the BBC, Van Den Hauwe insists this was born out of his on field antics rather than his supposed party lifestyle off of it.

Van Den Hauwe’s only Premier League exposure came with Tottenham towards the end of his career, as after four years at Everton, Terry Venables decided to make a move for a man whose champagne lifestyle had meant development at Goodison Park had stagnated.

Steady performances in North London kept Van Den Hauwe very much in the public eye, and whilst the Belgian failed to impress Venables’ eventual successor at Tottenham, Ossie Ardiles, the recently married Belgian remained a Spurs player until the summer of 1993. After leaving White Hart Lane, the Welsh international wound down his career with a spell at second tier outfit, Millwall.

Since the abrupt end to his top-flight career, Van Den Hauwe made a swift exit from England, taking the chance to play football in South Africa. With the breakdown of his marriage to model Mandy Smith, the Dutchman decided to opt out of the paparazzi media exposure that had dogged the latter years of his career, and made a permanent move to Cape Town.

It is only recently that the former Everton man has returned to the UK. Still living out in South Africa, the enigmatic Van Den Hauwe has been spotted at an occasional reunion for the Toffees sides of the late 1980s.

In a recent interview with the Daily Post Van Den Hauwe spoke about the decision to move abroad after the conclusion of his playing days, and whilst he has rarely returned to the city that made him a household name, he remains an Evertonian at heart.

If you have any suggestions for future players to cover in this feature, let me know via Twitter. I’ll be busy trying to convince Mandy Smith to come over and watch highlights of the 1985 Cup Winners Cup final. If not, I’ll settle for Maggie Smith.