January 11, 2017
TWICE IN THREE DAYS
Ex-Cosmos Van der Elst dies; second Cosmos to pass away in 3 days after Cabanas death
By Michael Lewis
For the second time in three days, a former Cosmos great has passed away.
Midfielder Francois Van der Elst, who performed for the North American Soccer League team from 1980-81 died Wednesday. He was 62.
Van der Elst suffered heart failure on New Year's Day and was placed in an induced coma in intensive care. On Wednesday died from cardiac arrest while still in the hospital.
On Monday, former Cosmos striker Roberto Cabanas, a one-time Paraguayan national team player, died at the age of 55.
Both players were teammates, performing on the 1980 Soccer Bowl championship team.
The Royal Belgian Football Association expressed its "great sadness" at standout midfielder's death.
Nicknamed "Swat," Van der Elst established himself as a top-flight player with Anderlecht in the Belgian First Division. He tallied 82 goals in 243 appearances from 1971-80 before taking the jump across the Atlantic.
Van der Elst also played for West Ham United from 1981-83 and Lokeren (Belgium) from 1983-86.
He played for Anderlect teams that won the 1976 and 1978 European Cup Winners' Cups, scoring twice in the first final against West Ham. He also was a member of two UEFA Super Cups with the Brussels side those same years.
Van der Elst wore the Belgian colors 44 times, scoring 14 international goals.