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Top 10 greatest Dutch footballers of all time

Published at :July 9, 2024 at 6:55 PM
Modified at :July 9, 2024 at 6:56 PM
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Dilpreet Singh

These great footballers are like a gift from the Dutch to the World.

The Netherlands national football team are as old as the game of football is, as they have been playing since 1905. The national team are handled by the Royal Dutch Football Federation. They have a very rich football history and have given the world some of the greatest footballers.

The footballers from the Netherlands not only played for their national team but also represented many legendary clubs and marked their presence throughout the world. This great football nation despite being one of the best never won the most prestigious trophy, the World Cup. Since the advent, Oranje have played eleven World Cups out of which they played three finals.

They are often regarded as the best team that never won the World Cup. But their players have achieved the greatness everyone aspires for. Let’s have a look at the top 10 greatest Dutch footballers of all time

10. Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk, a 33 years-old is often considered as one of the best defenders of his generation. Van Dijk plays as a centre-back and is famous for his strength, speed and agility. In 2015, he joined the national team and since then he has played in 79 matches scoring nine times as a defender.

Van Dijk is currently serving as a captain of the national team and also for the club Liverpool. He went to the finals of the 2018 and 2019 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool consecutively. With the Reds, he won the 2018-19 Premier League and 2019 UCL. He is the only defender to win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award. 

9. Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar is generally considered as one of the best goalkeepers of all time. He belongs to the golden era of the Netherlands team, as the Dutch at that time were very strong and competitive. Van der Sar joined the national team in 1995 and played around 130 matches for them.

He was awarded the title of European Best Goalkeeper during his peak. After becoming part of Ajax, he won his first Champions League trophy. He won his second Champions League title with Manchester United and became the oldest player at the age of 40 to win the title. 

8. Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard is widely considered one of the greatest defensive midfielders in football history. Rijkaard joined the national team in 1981 and played around 73 matches for them before retiring in 1994. He, with the Netherlands, won the 1988 UEFA European Cup in which he scored the winning goal.

Rijkaard spent the best time of his career with the legendary club AC Milan, where he won the Champions League twice and Serie A league twice. After retiring, he managed big teams like Barcelona, Galatasaray and even Netherlands. 

Also read: Top 10 greatest English footballers of all time

7. Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben used to play as a winger and was considered one of the most outstanding players of his generation. Robben, after joining the Netherlands national team in 2003, did miracles for them. He is amongst the highest scorers, as in 96 matches he scored 37 goals.

While playing for Chelsea, he won two consecutive Premier League titles. After becoming part of Bayern Munich, Robben won his first Champions League title in 2013, in which he scored the winning goal. In a decade of stay in the German club, Robben won eight Bundesliga titles, making him one of the most decorated Dutch players.

6. Robin van Persie

Robin van Persie, who started his career as a winger, later became one of the best strikers of his generation. Van Persie has the most successful career in the Netherlands team as he is the highest goal scorer for them. After becoming part of the Netherlands in 2005, Van Persie played 102 matches scoring 50 goals.

He joined Arsenal, where he turned into a striker and set the club record for most goals in a single season. Later he joined Manchester United and won a Premier League title and two consecutive Premier League Golden Boot awards. 

5. Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman, one of the greatest attacking centre-backs of all time, used to play as both defender and midfielder. He had a very diversified career, as he represented many great teams. In 1994, he became part of the Netherlands national team and played around 78 matches scoring 14 goals.

Initially, he was part of Ajax and then became part of their rival club PSV, where he won three consecutive Eredivisie titles and a Champion League title. He is amongst the very few European players to win a treble with their team. Later he joined Barcelona, where he won four consecutive LaLiga titles as part of Johan Cruyff’s “dream team”

Also read: Top 10 greatest Spanish footballers of all time

4. Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp is widely considered one of the greatest players of his generation and one of the greatest forwards of the Premier League. He is amongst the top scorers of his national team as he has 37 goals in his name in 79 matches. He is amongst the most successful players in Ajax and Arsenal.

With Arsenal, Bergkamp won three Premier League titles and four FA Cup trophies. After retirement, he served as an assistant to his former club Ajax from 2011 to 2017. 

3. Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit, who is named in FIFA’s Top 125 Greatest Living Footballers, was one of the most versatile players. He used to play as a forward, midfielder and even as a defender sometimes. After joining the Dutch national team, Gullit scored 17 goals in 66 matches and won the 1988 UEFA Euro Cup.

He had a great career with AC Milan, winning three Serie A titles and two Champions League titles. In 1987, Gullit won the most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or. 

2. Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten is amongst the top few greatest Dutch players in the world. In a very limited time, Van Bastan achieved greatness with his ball control, attacking style and famous volleys. He appeared in 58 matches for the Netherlands and scored 24 goals.

He joined Ajax as his first club where he won three Eredivisie titles. Later he joined AC Milan where he won four Serie A titles and two Champions League titles. In his short career, Van Bastan won three Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual award. He soon had to retire from professional football due to an ankle injury.

1. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is amongst the greatest ever footballers of all time and the greatest Dutch footballer ever. Cruyff played an important role in taking Dutch football to the level it is now. He joined the Netherlands national team in 1966 and played 48 matches scoring 33 goals.

He took the Netherlands to the finals of the 1974 World Cup. Due to exceptional performance, he was awarded the Golden Ball award. Initially, he played for Ajax and won eight Eredivisie titles, a Continental Cup and three Champions League titles, making him the most decorated player in the Netherlands. Cruyff also won three Ballon d’Or.

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