World Football: Ranking the 20 Best Dutch Players of All Time

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIApril 18, 2012

World Football: Ranking the 20 Best Dutch Players of All Time

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    Dutch players like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are on the tips of everyone's tongues but will have a hard time getting on a list like this.

    The Dutch have provided World Football with some great players, coaches and one beautiful concept of how to play the game.

    A lot of the players on this list are from the era where Total Football began, and their successors today can thank them for paving the way.

    If you haven't already read David Winner's brilliant book, "Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer," then pick it up. It really provides some great reading on some of the nation's best players.

    Here are the 20 Best Dutch Players of All Time.

20. Phillip Cocu

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    Phillip Cocu is one of the few PSV greats on this list. He led the club to many league titles and had over 100 caps for his nation.

    Cocu also had a lengthy spell at Barcelona during a time when the Spanish giants had a number of Dutch players.

19. Arie Haan

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    Arie Haan, like the majority of the players on this list, made his name at Ajax but also had a great amount of success in Belgium with Anderlecht.

    He was the steely midfielder who gave players like Johan Cruyff room to operate the more silky parts of the game. Haan may have been a defensive-minded player, but he also had to have a great amount of skill to keep up with his Ajax teammates.

18. Marc Overmars

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    Marc Overmars is certainly one of the best wingers in recent memory. He combined great speed with technique and his ability to use either foot.

    He picked up trophies at Ajax and Arsenal but was unable to continue his success at Barcelona.

17. Coen Moulijn

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    Coen Moulijn is a Feyenoord legend and one of the best wingers the nation has seen. Fans of Dutch football hold him in high regard.

16. Frank de Boer

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    Frank de Boer is the second most-capped player in Dutch national team history. He had an exquisite passing range with his left foot and was a intelligent defender.

    He played for both Ajax and Barcelona in his career and picked up a lone La Liga trophy to go along with all his achievements with the Dutch side.

15. Piet Keizer

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    Piet Keizer was an attacker for Ajax and took over the captaincy of the club's greatest team when Johan Cruyff left for Barcelona.

14. Johnny Rep

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    If you read the book mentioned on the title slide, you will see just how highly regarded Johnny Rep was. But the fact that he does not have the same amount of winner's medals as some other players is why he is so low on this list.

    After starting his career with the great Ajax team that included many of the players on this list, Rep moved to France to play first for Bastia and then for St. Etienne.

13. Ruud Krol

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    Whereas Johan Cruyff was the mastermind for Ajax's great attacking play, Ruud Krol was the man in charge for the defense.

    Along with his time at Ajax, Krol also played for Napoli but had the all of his success with the Dutch club.

    Krol was versatile enough to appear in any defensive position, including defensive midfield, but he played mainly as a central defender.

12. Edgar Davids

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    The fact that Edgar Davids played for so many different clubs should not be taken as a knock against his quality. "The Pitbull" played for teams in Holland, Italy, England and Spain but was most successful during his time with Ajax and then Juventus.

    As he was an Ajax product, Davids had great technical ability but got his his nickname for his fantastic work defensively.

11. Clarence Seedorf

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    Clarence Seedorf edges out Edgar Davids here despite the similarities between the two players' careers. Seedorf did not make it to England as Davids did, but the fact that he has won more trophies with more teams gets him into this position.

    It is a testament to Seedorf's skill that he is the only active player on this list.

10. Faas Wilkes

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    Faas Wilkes scored 35 goals in 38 games for the Dutch national team and is highly regarded in the country's football history.

    Wilkes did not play for any of Holland's more recognizable clubshe played for Xerxes Rotterdamand he is from an older era than most on this list.

    Still, he played for big clubs such as Inter and Valencia during his career and was one of the most skilled players during his time.

9. Rob Rensenbrink

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    Rob Rensenbrink might not get a lot of the plaudits he should because he made his name in Belgium while playing for Anderlecht.

    He was a key part of the Dutch National team's run in the 1974 and 1978 World Cup and was inches away from scoring the winning goal for the side.

8. Frank Rijkaard

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    Frank Rijkaard was one of the most technically sound defensive midfielders during his day. He was part of two successful teams with Ajax and AC Milan.

    He was voted as the Serie A's Best Foreign Player in 1992, and that is credit to his skills.

7. Johan Neeskens

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    Johan Neeskens is another player from that great Ajax team in the early '70s. This midfielder's technical skills and goal-scoring abilities made him an integral player for both his club and country.

6. Ronald Koeman

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    Ronald Koeman played for two of Holland's most famous teams as well as Catalan giants Barcelona. He had great success with each team and was a major part of each triumph.

    He started off his career as a midfielder, but he spent the most notable part of his career as a defender known for his powerful free-kicks. He was part of the Netherlands' only major trophy triumph and has the honor of being the highest-scoring defender in the history of the game.

5. Ruud Gullit

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    Ruud Gullit was adept at playing in a variety of positions during his career. He was a major part of AC Milan's dominant teams during the late '80s and early '90s.

    Gullit captained the Dutch side to its Euro '88 championship win.

4. Edwin van der Sar

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    Edwin van der Sar is arguably the best Dutch keeper ever. He achieved numerous successes on the club level for Ajax and Manchester United.

    Though he didn't have any success on the international level, he is the country's most capped player and showed his quality time and again while playing for two dominant teams.

3. Dennis Bergkamp

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    Dennis Bergkamp is somewhat of a mixture of the two players ranked above him. He is a genius of the game like Johan Cruyff and could be absolutely clinical in front of the goal like Marco van Basten.

    Bergkamp gave viewers some brilliant moments on the pitch and was a successful player in terms of achievements as well.

2. Marco van Basten

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    Marco van Basten's career was cut short, yet he still managed two teams who won multiple trophies on a domestic and European level.

    Van Basten wasn't just on these teams, he was a major part of them. He is one of the most prolific strikers in the history of the game, with a goals per game ratio of 0.99, which is basically one goal per game.

1. Johan Cruyff

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    Was there going to be anyone else? Johan Cruyff was a genius with the ball at his feet and just a genius of the game in general.

    Cruyff gave the game more than just his skills on the ball, and his words are still highly regarded today.

    He picked up trophies while playing for Ajax, Barcelona and Feyenoord and was a premier part of the inception of Total Football.


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