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Ranking the Top-10 Dutchmen on All-Time World Cup Impact

Elko BornContributor INovember 4, 2016

Ranking the Top-10 Dutchmen on All-Time World Cup Impact

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    With the World Cup in Brazil well and truly behind us, it won't be too long until a brand new season of football starts.

    But in the case of the Netherlands, who did well in Brazil by finishing third, it's always good to look back and reminisce a little bit. Not just about the 2014 campaign, but about other World Cups as well.

    With this summer's impressive campaign still firmly entrenched in everyone's mind, we have ranked the Dutchmen who have had the biggest impact during any World Cup in an ultimate top 10. 

10. Leo Beenhakker

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    PETER MORRISON/Associated Press

    Leo Beenhakker was the Netherlands' manager during the World Cup in 1990, when Oranje failed to make it past the round of 16. 

    But in 2006, Beenhakker impressed by taking relatively small footballing nation Trinidad and Tobago to the World Cup in Germany. 

    There, they earned a point by drawing against Sweden. Unfortunately, they lost their other two group matches. 

    Still, Trinidad and Tobago had never featured at a World Cup before, so they will probably forever thank Beenhakker for his efforts in 2006.

9. Arjen Robben

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Arjen Robben made his World Cup debut in 2006 in Germany. In 2010, he was a key man in the Dutch team that reached the final.

    This summer, in Brazil, Robben was one of the best players of the tournament. Having reached a new level of fitness, he scored goals against Spain and Australia. 

    After two successful World Cup campaigns, Robben is perhaps one of the best World Cup players the Netherlands have ever had. 

8. Wesley Sneijder

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    Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

    In Brazil, Wesley Sneijder was not as important as Robben. But in 2010, during the World Cup in South Africa, Sneijder was one of the best midfielders in the world. 

    Coming off the back of a highly successful season with Inter, Sneijder led his team to the final, which the Netherlands lost against Spain. 

    Oranje couldn't have done that without Sneijder, and for that reason, he deserves his place in this list.

7. Willem Van Hanegem

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Willem van Hanegem was to Johan Cruyff in 1974 what Sneijder was to Robben and Van Persie in 2010: The man behind it all, the engine in midfield. 

    In that capacity, Van Hanegem was a key man in the world-famous Dutch team that reached the final of the World Cup in 1974.

    Cruyff might have been the one to feature in all the headlines, but besides the legendary No. 14, Van Hanegem was important as well. 

6. Bert Van Marwijk

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    In 2010, the Netherlands reached the final of the World Cup in South Africa, all under the leadership of manager Bert van Marwijk. 

    Granted, Van Marwijk had players like Sneijder, Robben and Van Persie, who were all in good form. But second place at the World Cup is not something you can take for granted. 

    Considering the fact no Dutch manager has ever won the World Cup, van Marwijk is one of the most successful Dutch bosses of all times. 

5. Guus Hiddink

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    Oliver Lang/Associated Press

    As a manager, Guus Hiddink has accomplished amazing things at various World Cups.

    With the Netherlands, he reached the semi-final in 1998, but even more impressively, he did the same with the relatively small footballing nation South Korea in 2002. 

    Granted, South Korea played some of their games at home, and a bit of luck was involved. But reaching the semi-final was one of the most extraordinary accomplishments in football for South Korea.

4. Dennis Bergkamp

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    RICARDO MAZALAN/Associated Press

    Some strikers just score beautiful goals, some strikers just score important goals. Playing for the Netherlands, Dennis Bergkamp used to do both.

    His goal in the quarter-final against Brazil in 1994, for example, was a classic. And then there was his wonder goal in 1998: Without a doubt one of the best World Cup goals ever scored. 

    When it comes to pure impact, Bergkamp is one of the best World Cup players the Netherlands have ever had. 

3. Louis Van Gaal

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    Ahead of the World Cup in 2014, not many people gave the Netherlands much of a chance. Their squad didn't have enough quality, it was said, and besides, the defence wasn't up to scratch. 

    But as it later turned out, the Netherlands' critics had underestimated Louis van Gaal's leadership. In a surprise move, the manager turned the Dutch style of play around shortly before the tournament started, switching from a familiar 4-3-3 formation to a new-found 5-3-2. 

    The switch worked like a charm. Spain was thrashed 5-1, and Oranje managed to reach the semi-final, where they lost against Argentina after a penalty shootout. 

    Against all expectations, the World Cup in Brazil was an undeniable success for the Netherlands, and much it was thanks to Van Gaal. 

2. Rinus Michels

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    LEO VOGELZANG/Associated Press

    In 1974, the Dutch introduced "Total Football" to the world: An attacking style of football based on possession and the exploitation of space. 

    "Total Football" heavily influenced Johan Cruyff, and later Van Gaal, and elements from Michels' philosophy can now be seen at some of the biggest clubs in the world.

    By developing one of football's most famous philosophies, Michels remains one of the most influential historical figures in world football.

1. Johan Cruyff

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Every country has a legend, a historical great, an untouchable star. Without a doubt, Johan Cruyff is that player for the Netherlands. 

    In 1974, he was the main creative hub in one of the best teams to ever play football. Playing Michels' "Total Football," Cruyff and his companions reached the final of the World Cup.

    Unfortunately, Oranje lost that final, but the team's legacy lives on to this day. It was complete, it was revolutionary, and it would never be forgotten.

    In 1974, the Netherlands brought football to a new level, and in no small part, this was made possible by the sheer genius of Cruyff. 

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