The footballing history of the Netherlands can be perfectly described by the saying “so near, yet so far”. The Netherlands has produced world-class footballers at regular intervals yet somehow has never won the World Cup. In this article, we will take a look at the greatest Dutch XI of all time, considering only a player’s record for the national team.
Honorable mentions :- Marco Van Basten, Wesley Sneijder, Ruud Van Nistelrooy
GOALKEEPER: Edwin Van der Sar
Van der Sar made his debut for the national team in 1995 and went on to represent the Dutch in five major tournaments. He is the Netherlands’ second-most capped player and their finest goalkeeper. Van der Sar kept getting better with age, and was 40 when he played his final game for the Netherlands.
DEFENDERS : Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Ronald Koeman, Ruud Krol
At his prime, Stam was among the world’s best defenders. In the 1998 World Cup, Stam was a vital cog of the Dutch team that finished fourth. Stam represented the Netherlands for eight years, mostly as a center-back, but he was also capable of playing as a right-back.
Frank de Boer and Ronald Koeman form the central defensive pair, both legends in their own right. Both had several similarities, including a gifted ability to score stunning free-kicks. Frank de Boer appeared over a hundred times for the Netherlands and captained them in the 1998 World Cup.
Ronald Koeman scored 14 goals for the Netherlands in 78 appearances. Koeman debuted for the Dutch in 1983, but Netherlands failed to qualify for EURO 84 and World Cup 86. Thus, Koeman made his debut in EURO 88 and was an important player of the title-winning Dutch unit.
Ruud Krol was one of the pioneers of the attacking full-back role. He mastered the art while representing Netherlands in the 70’s. He appeared in 83 games for the Netherlands, and Cruyff picked him in his all-time XI.
MIDFIELDERS : Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Johan Cruyff, Arjen Robben, Dennis Bergkamp
Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit will form a double pivot in this greatest Dutch XI . Rijkaard possessed all the attributes of a modern-day midfielder. He was physically strong but had a unique style which made him stand out among the rest.
Gullit captained the Dutch team that won the EURO 1988 while Rijkaard played as a defender in that team. Gullit was a very versatile player, someone who can play as a central defender or a second striker with aplomb.
Johan Cruyff and the total football Dutch team of the 70’s reached two consecutive World Cup finals but failed to win both. Cruyff made an entire generation to perceive football in a different way and is commonly named as the most intelligent footballer of all time.
On the right side of the three attacking midfielders in this team is Arjen Robben. Robben scored 37 goals in 96 appearances for the Netherlands, including several memorable hits in the World Cup. He was renowned for his speed and the ability to cut inside and shoot with his left foot.
Bergkamp is the central attacking midfielder in the greatest Dutch XI of all time. Bergkamp carried the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup, where they lost to Brazil. Bergkamp had a brilliant first touch and a skill set that was the envy of every player who played alongside him.
STRIKER : Robin Van Persie
The most prolific goal scorer in the history of the Netherlands, RVP has 50 international goals to his name. Van Persie famously did not have a weak foot and also possessed a deadly header. His flying header against Spain in the 2014 World Cup is one of the World Cup’s most famous goals.