Dutch goalkeeper Leo Halle.
Dutch goalkeeper Leo Halle.

Leo Halle

The Lion of Deventer


Leonard Herman Gerrit “Leo” Halle was born into a working-class family in Deventer, The Netherlands, in 1906. He followed his older brother Jan Halle in playing for his local team, Go Ahead Eagles.  A brave, athletic goalkeeper, Leo was a fixture in Go Ahead’s First XI from 1924. Go Ahead won the Dutch national league championship in 1930 and then won it again in 1933. Leo Halle was first selected for the Dutch national team in 1927.

Making a stand

Leo Halle won fifteen international caps. He might have won many more but for the quality of his main rival for the goalkeeper’s jersey Cas van Meulen. Leo Halle also missed out because of his decision to make a political stand in 1933, when he refused to play against Germany because of his objections to Nazi ideology. Then in 1934 Leo was in the Dutch squad for the World Cup in Italy but not selected to play. Some observers claimed his non-selection was due to his politics, not his goalkeeping.


Leo Halle continued to have a fine career after 1934. His last game for the Netherlands was in 1937. He played for Go Ahead until 1942. After the war he coached several amateur teams, and kept on playing for “Old Internationals” until he was well past 50 years old. In 1986, when he turned 80, a grandstand at Deventer’s stadium was named after him. In 2020 Go Ahead Deventer will unveil a statue in honour of a local hero who said “No” to Nazism. Leo Halle died in 1992, aged 86.

Thinking points

Leo Halle was a “one club man”. He was born and died in Deventer and spent his whole professional career with his hometown team, Go Ahead Eagles. In 1986, this loyalty was acknowledged when a grandstand at Deventer’s stadium was named after him. But Leo Halle was also remembered for making a stand against Nazism, by refusing to play for his national team in a friendly match against Germany in 1933.

Educators could look at the life story of Leo Halle and work with young people to consider these questions:

  1. What is the place of politics in football?
  2. A statue is going to be unveiled in honour of Leo Halle: what do you think the inscription on the statue could say?

Find out more

De Stentor (Dutch newspaper) reports about Leo Halle and the statue in his memory to be placed outside Go Ahead Deventer’s stadium. The Huygens-ING Institute (Institute for Dutch History) features a profile about him.

Dutch national goalkeeper who stayed away from playing Germany in 1934.

Life Story 81

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Dutch goalkeeper Leo Halle.
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Ruud Gullit; Dutch national team 1988 (Photo: Dutch National Archive).
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