Thomas Buffel was born on February 19th, 1981. Thomas was born in Brugge, in the region of Vlaanderen (Flemish part of Belgium). After a few years he and his family moved from the city of Brugge to a small village called 'Ruddervoorde'.
It was in Ruddervoorde where Thomas started his football career, at the local club 'VV Ruddervoorde'. Thomas always played as a striker in his youth years at the club. In one year, it resulted in scoring a maximum of 85 goals! After he and his youth team played a tournament at Anderlecht, scouts of Cercle Brugge ánd Club Brugge tried to tie Buffel to their club.
But because the 'Buffel family are true Cercle Brugge fans, Thomas chose for Cercle Brugge. Shortly after that, Thomas was selected for the Belgian National Youth Team for the first time in his career. Things started to look good for young Buffel.
After a few games with the National Youth Team, Buffel was scouted by Feyenoord. Feyenoord went to the Buffel residence and not only did they have plans for him and his football career, but they also offered him the chance to study. The Buffel family liked these ideas and so Buffel moved to Rotterdam, to play in the first youth team for Feyenoord.
Thomas had an excellent start and after only one season, he was chosen 'Best Player' in the National Youth Competition in Holland. After the summer break, he got an invitation to be part of the first team at Feyenoord. During this season (Feyenoord was the league-champion after this season) he trained with the first squad, but did not play any games. The season after that, he had some injuries and so the new coach, Van Marwijk, advised him to go to Excelsior, with whom Feyenoord have a co-operation. Excelsior played in the Dutch First Division, so it was a step back for Buffel. But this was only temporarily, because after this step back he made two steps (or more!) forward.
Thomas had two excellent years, and after his second year he was chosen 'Best Player' of the Dutch First Division. Thomas gained a lot of strength and power in those two years, something that the people at the Kuip did not miss. And so from season 2002-2003 (the year after the UEFA Cup win) Buffel was again a member of the first squad in the South of Rotterdam.
Thomas had two excellent years in the first squad. His first year, he played next to Pierre van Hooijdonk and scored 18 goals in 31 games. The year after, he played with Dirk Kuyt and he scored 14 goals in 34 games.
This year, under new coach Ruud Gullit, Thomas lost his spot in the team to Salomon Kalou, the younger brother of former Feyenoord-player Bonaventure Kalou. Salomon developed quickly during the pre-season period and so Gullit gave Salomon the benefit over Thomas Buffel.
Kuyt and Kalou mark the first two spots of the top goal scorers in Holland, and together they have already scored 24 goals so far (13 for Kuyt and 11 for Kalou), so Kalou is also an excellent player.
But for a lot of fans, the Buffel-transfer comes as a disappointment. Thomas is very popular with the fans, as he never quits working when things go wrong, which we like to see at Feyenoord. But of course everyone can understand Buffel wanting to move on and play his games. So we wish him all the best at Rangers!