Top 10 Dutch Footballers of All Time
10. Faas Wilkes
With 35 goals in 38 games, Wilkes was one of the first four players ever to move out of Holland to play football. He played for the likes of Internazionale Milan and Valencia, before ending his career at Xerxes Rotterdam.
09. Edwin van der Sar
A fantastic goalkeeper, van der Sar was named as the first choice goalkeeper in 1995. Since then, the tall Dutchman has been in goal for 15 years, after he came out of retirement to help the Dutch qualify for the 2010 World Cup. He is the country’s most capped player, with 130 caps.
08. Frank de Boer
112 international caps to his name, Frank de Boer was the epitome of central defenders around the world. Just 5’11” tall, de Boer made up for with experience and an exceptional reading of the game. A penalty & freekick specialist, de Boer was part of two World Cup squads and three European Championships, captaining the team on many occasions.
07. Abe Lenstra
33 goals in 47 caps along with the Dutch Athlete of the Year award were signs that Abe Lenstra was more than the ordinary player. He teamed up with the likes of Wilkes and Kees Rijvers to form a formidable combination. At club level, his influence on SC Heerenveen was so strong that supporters would lovingly call the club “Abeveen”.
06. Kick Smit
26 goals in 29 games and two world cup appearances were all Kick Smit had to show for his duration as a national team player. That the team was built around him and on his shoulders lay its weight was undoubted. That he would carry that weight so effortlessly, was magical.
05. Ruud Krol
He began playing professional football in 1968, for Ajax. In 1969, he made his debut for a Dutch side that was preparing a world-class squad. To get into that squad and become known for his fantastic exploits, is the power that Ruud Krol had on a football pitch. He won every title out there, as captain and player, with Ajax. He reached two finals with the Dutch national team, ending up losing both, amongst his 83 caps. However, when Krol held the backline, there was no doubt that the goal would always be safe.
04. Johan Neeskens
If Johan Cruyff was the epitome of skill in the team, then Neeskens was the heart. He played like there was no tomorrow and with him providing defensive cover, Netherlands would always have a fighting chance of maintaining possession. A vital ingredient in both the 1974 & 1978 final reaching teams, Neeskens was rightly called Johan the Second, for his name and importance to the national team.
03. Arie Haan
He played as a defensive midfielder, but in the time of Total Football, Haan’s role in the team was even more crucial. Wherever Haan went, he changed the way the team played, winning league titles in Holland and Belgium. A three time European Cup winner and two time losing finalist at the FIFA World Cup, Haan was one of the mainstays in the Dutch lineup.
02. Marco van Basten
Three time European Footballer of the Year, once World Footballer of the Year, Marco van Basten is considered to be the greatest striker of all time. However, his injury shortened career would hamper his comparisons against the likes of Pele. A sensational striker with incredible athletic ability, strength on the ball and immaculate finishing, van Basten was the benchmark, and still is, for strikers around the world. The main reason for the Dutch triumph at the 1988 European Championships, van Basten truly is one of the greats of world football. A twelve year shortened-career lost almost 3 more years to injury, making his tally of 277 goals an incredibly formidable task to beat.
01. Johan Cruyff
He was called a ballerina and that was his trademark. He moved like a dancer and was fantastic with the ball. Whether dribbling or simply passing the ball, Cruyff was as close to perfect as you could be. For the complexity and insane angle of his passes, he was also dubbed as “Pythagoras on Boots”. The inspiration behind Holland’s run to two World Cup finals, Cruyff was truly one of the greatest players in the world; surely the greatest to never win the world cup.
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