Most Oranje supporters simply have to be masochistic. Playing brilliant football (sometimes) and hardly ever winning the prize.
Over the last 7 years, we have covered all the upsets, the highs, the magical, the drama and we will keep on doing this for years to come….
Hopefully amidst future tournaments where we can harvest some silverware too. I for one, am not one of those supporters who secretly enjoy being the “loser”. Even if I am a Feyenoord fan….
As most of you know, I lived in Holland back then and I was pretty convinced we would do well. As I am always convinced we will do well.
As you know, a broken clock is correct twice a day :-).
I remember the lead up to the Tournament really well. Rinus Michels in charge. Ajax was doing really well. Johan Cruyff had won the 1987 Europa Cup II with Ajax (Van Basten scoring) and Ajax played the finals yet again, this time against Mechelen. Mechelen, with Erwin Koeman, won it this time, but Ajax had a strong side with Jan Wouters, John van ‘t Schip, John Bosman, Arnold Muhren and Aron Winter. Danny Blind was the right back in those days.
AC Milan had the “three of Milan” and although Marco was injured and struggling to be the starting striker in Milan, we all knew that these three were exceptional. PSV had just won the Europa Cup 1, with Koeman, Wim Kieft, Hans van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle and Gerald Vanenburg. Adri van Tiggelen played for the grand Anderlecht side in Belgium and Dutch football was doing really well.
But, Oranje missed out on the three big tournaments before 1988 and the last tournament we played ( 1980 in Italy) was a bit of downer.
Some people didn’t expect much from this young team and when Michels clearly didn’t know how to start the tournament, lots of fans lost faith. Marco van Basten was hardly used by Michels as a result of his injuries and when he was fit he missed the decided against Belgium as a result of a suspension.
So, Michels wanted to start with Bosman as center striker ( a very cool finisher in the box… A sort of Huntelaar, for the young ones under us). And John van’t Schip played on the left wing (he played right wing or midfield at Ajax), but Schippie was perfect two-footed and was able to cross from the left with his left. Gullit and Vanenburg competed for the right wing, and Gullit was the type of player some coaches didn’t know where to put. At PSV he even played central defender, while in Milan he was one of the two forwards in a 4-2-2 system.
Arnold Muhren and Jan Wouters played in midfield with Vanenburg on the right, behind Gullit.
Not a very well balanced team.
And future superstar San Marco van Basten was not amused. He felt fresh. He was fit. And super motivated. But Michels almost didn’t select him. Kieft and Gilhaus were a lethal duo at PSV. Bosman was a killer. Piet de Boer of KV Mechelen just scored the winner in the ECII finals. Michels had options. But he did pick Van Basten and gave him the number 12.
The ambitious striker was livid. How could he not get the support from the Ajax legend? And he went to his close friend, surrogate father and former coach Johan Cruyff to vent his anger. And to tell him he would gracefully thank Michels but no thanks. I am not benchwarm material.
But Cruyff told him to shut up, to pack his bag and go. There was no pressure on Bassie and JC knew that Michels would be using him in the tournament. “Be patient, await your chance and take the opportunity when you can”.
The rest is history. Oranje lost against the USSR in the first group game. The 4-3-3 Michels concocted didn’t work. So he changed it for the England game. The team needed more balance.
So Erwin Koeman came in to support 37 year old strategist Muhren and Bassie came in to play with Gullit in a 4-4-2 set up. Bosman and Schippie took the bench.
A hattrick against England, a freak Kieft goal (off side) against feisty Ireland and a true battle in Hamburg vs West Germany and before we knew it, Oranje got a second chance against the USSR in the finals.
In the Olympic Stadium in Munich, with yours truly sitting right behind Dasaev when “that moment” occurred….
It’s 1-0 (Gullit’s only goal of the tournament, the Oranje skipper was walking on his gums…) and pressure from the Russians. Van Tiggelen breaks out, passes the ball to Muhren who wants to reach Van Basten but he overhits the ball. Van Basten has three options… Option 1: control the ball and wait for midfielders to come closer…with a couple of defenders on his toes… Option 2: pass the ball with one touch to the penalty spot where Gullit should be. Van Basten took option 3.
Now this goal made history. It’s one of the best goals ever! It is certainly the best goal ever scored at an EC.
Muhren: “I felt I overhit the kick. I was trying to launch him in space, but I overdid. He could only do one thing, or so I thought. Take it down and start the build up again.”
Van Basten: “You don’t think about this. The ball comes, I saw a defender closing me down, I felt I was fairly isolated. What do you do? You don’t think, you simply do. It works only in practice normally and it wasn’t against some shabby goalie either.”
Jan The Blogman: “I was sitting behind the goal with some other Oranje supporters and when the ball was in the air you could tell by Marco’s body movement that he was going to hit it. And we all stood up, arms raised up in the air because we could see in our minds’ eye that yes, there was a small chance he would score from there. And he did.”
Now the freaky thing is, that the AD Newspaper traced something really cool.
Oranje practiced before the EC 1988 against an amateur club. They won that match 8-1, but the amateurs scored as well. And the way they scored might have inspired Marco….
Take a look at this! His name is Michel Dreis.