Brilliant Orange: Ranking the Best Dutch Internationals of All Time
Holland is one of the greatest footballing nations in the world. Dutch clubs such as Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV, have excellent and well-recognized youth systems (particularly Ajax), which have produced some of the greatest players ever to play the game in a Holland shirt (Johan Cruyff being the prime example, in Rinus Michels's total football side of the '70s).
As a national team, the Dutch have dazzled the world with their performances in World Cup competitions. The "Total Football" philosophy that Holland is reputed for irrevocably changed the face of the game worldwide, combining aesthetic pleasure with clinical efficiency in a 4-3-3 formation.
These innovations. as well as talented players, made ripples on the face of the footballing world. Only the most talented can have the honour to be an Oranje. Let's look at the best players in the history of the game to have done that.
Goalkeeper: Edwin Van Der Sar
The famed Dutchman is a giant, both in stature and in the football world. He has the incredible capacity to pull off match-winning saves. He does this week in, week out for his club side, Manchester United (at the age of 40!).
Edwin Van der Sar's career, now at its zenith, has been illustrious and respectable. He has played for some of the most prestigious clubs in Europe (Ajax, Juventus and to a much lesser extent, Fulham). Unstoppable at the top of his game, Van Der Sar fully warrants his inclusion.
Left-Back: Gio Van Bronckhorst
Gio is one of the most experienced left-back's in the history of the game. Van Bronckhorst was a sublime left-back, much underrated by many. He has played for many prestigious clubs, like Barcelona and Arsenal and had a great run in the Dutch World Cup Campaign of 2010, where they reached the final.
Centre-Back: Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman is one of the greatest centre-backs in the history of the game. The Barcelona legend was a fearsome defender on his day, with qualities of boundless energy and tackling ability. He was also skilled with the ball dead at his feet, scoring the winner in extra time for Barcelona to win them the European Cup(1992).
Nonwithstanding, Koeman had a great time at international level, playing in two European Championships and two World Cups. He was part of one of the greatest international rosters of all time. Holland's record during his tenure stands as follows:
UEFA Euro 1988—Winners
FIFA World Cup 1990—Round of 16
UEFA Euro 1992—Semifinalists
FIFA World Cup 1994—Quarterfinal
Centre-Back: Ruud Krol
Krol was versatile, to say the least. Capable of playing anywhere in defense including in defensive midfield, Krol was a fixture in the Ajax team of the '70s as well as the Dutch team that should have won the World Cup twice (in '74 and in '78). His trophy cabinet is immense and shows the quality defender Krol was:
FIFA World Cup 1974, 1978, Runners up Medals (14 games, 1 goal)
League Championship: 1968, '70, '72, '73, '77, '79, '80, '81
Domestic cup: 1970, '71, '72, '79
Coupe Intercontinentale: 1972
European Cup Championship: 1971, '72, '73
European Super Cup: 1972, '73
Right-Back: Wim Suurbier
Suurbier was one of the most talented right-backs in the history of the game. He had immense tackling ability as well as a great reading of the game. He was part of the great Ajax side of the '70s which won:
Defensive Midfielder: Frank Rijkaard
The Dutch maestro had it all: tackling ability, a great touch and great passing feet. He was part of the great Ajax side of the late '80s as well as the Milan side of the early '90s. He also won Euro 88 with Holland, and formed a great midfield partnership with Ruud Gullit.
Attacking Midfielder: Ruud Gullit
The talented Dutch attacking midfielder formed a deadly partnership with Marco Van Basten at Milan and for his home country at Euro 88 and is one of the greatest players of all time.
Attacking Midfielder: Johan Cruyff
The Dutchman is remembered for being the personification of Rinus Michels' football philosophy of total football. An exquisite midfielder remembered primarily for his dribbling and passing skill, he could play anywhere in midfield, even as a second striker.
He was the centerpiece of the great Ajax and Holland teams of the '70s, and one of the greatest players of all time.
Attacking Midfielder: Johan Neeskens
Johan Neeskens was the workmanlike partner of Johan Cruyff in the midfields of Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands. He played a part in the 1974 World Cup defeat to West Germany and was Holland's standout player in the 1978 World Cup run.
Striker: Dennis Bergkamp
The class and technique of the Dutch striker earns him a place on this list. He was the focal point of the great Arsenal sides of 1998 and 2002, and is famous for his iconic goals against Newcastle United and against Argentina for Holland.
Striker: Marco Van Basten
Marco Van Basten is (arguably) the greatest sriker in the history of World Football. He was part of the golden trinity of Van Basten, Rijkaard and Gullit at Milan, and also played at Ajax. He is famous for his goal against the Soviet Union (in Euro 88), which represented the peak of his career.