Holland produced tremendous talents in the 1970s. We all know the names, and the memories. Johan Cruyff, of course. Van Hanegem, Neeskens, John Rep, Wim Jansen, Rob Rensenbrink… The right footed Ajax player morphed into a left back – and later central defender – Ruud Krol was part of that generation and grew out to be a super star, first as captain of Ajax and Holland and then through his time and impact at Napoli.

The now 67 year old cosmopolitan would turn into one of Napoli’s most popular players ever.

Elegance, duel strength, speed, heading capabilities, a phenomenal long pass and personality. This is the story in the VI Italy special.

This version of hero worship is new even to Ruud Krol. In the belly of the Stadio San Paolo, Krol is confronted with a man who’s eyes and mouth are wide open once he sees Krol. He makes a deep bow and mutters “Mama mia!”. And followed with another deep bow. With typical dry Amsterdam humour, Ruud quips: “Hey mind your back my man!” This is not just an old fan. This man happens to be current Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri. Earlier today, his team lost the match vs arch enemy AS Roma, but that all is now forgotten. “What a tremendous honour to meer you,” the coach adds. “Grande Rudy, you are a Napoli hero. You are Napoli!”

krol-cid171012_krol

And a day earlier, Ruud Krol received a huge hug from his former right back from that team, Guiseppe Bruscolotti. They haven’t seen each other for 32 years but they always stayed in contact. And now they are reunited, two tough guys, with teary eyes, touching each other fondly, as Italians tend to do. Guiseppe puts his hand on Ruud’s belly and on his own and says “Rudy, you need to eat more! You probably missed the food here, come on, let’s get some seafood.”

Driving through Naples, Krol is in his own thoughts, taking in the roughness of the city. A city with issues, sure, but also a city which is taking care of things. Scaffolds around old buildings, fountains are being cleaned and horse and carriages are colourful and waiting for tourists to take them for a ride. “This city really grabbed me by the throat, ” Krol whispers. “And it never let me go.”

Once Krol and co enter the restaurant, a pandemonium ensues. The restaurant owner, his staff, they’re all there to meet and greet and within 5 minutes a reporter enters the space for some questions, while the maitre’d joins with a phone, explaining the local radio station wants a live interview. No one gets how this news spread. Bruscolotti: “This is Naples. Don’t try and make sense of it. Won’t work.”

krol napoli

At the border of the Gulf of Naples, with Vesuvius in the background, Krol delves into his memory. “I wanted to leave Ajax, for a while already and there was more interest from Italy. In the 1980s, that was one of the major leagues in the world of course. But there were issues with the Italian federation and the possibility for Italian clubs to sign players from other countries. I even had a pre-contract with AC Milan but that was null and void when the approval didn’t come for this. And AS Roma wanted to sign me and that bounced for the same reason. Torino wanted me too but I didn’t feel it with them. I did tip them to see Van de Korput and he ended up playing there.”

But it was time for Krol to move on. He’d won everything he could with Ajax and played two finals in the World Cup for Oranje. Ajax ruled in Europe and of that golden generation, Krol was the last to leave. In earlier seasons, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Arsenal made him offers but Ajax refused to let their captain go. “In hindsight, I stayed with Ajax too long. I had this ambition to repeat our successes with a new team and boy did we get close. We reached the semi finals of the Europa Cup 1 again but were beaten by Nottingham Forest. That was a blow. I was always fully motivated for these big matches, but I lost my drive in the Eredivisie. And would you believe it, just when I signed a 4 year deal with Vancouver, the Italian federation gave permission for foreign players. I thought an adventure to Canada would be cool. And I was hardly there for a week or so and suddenly a Napoli director – Juliano – was on my doorstep! This was on a Monday. He said “Rudy, you gotta play for Napoli on Wednesday. I’m here to get you, we’re flying tomorrow. He said he’d go and sort it with the Whitecaps. So I went. To the airport, waiting to board. No Juliano in sight until the last call. He came running and a deal with Whitecaps to sign me had failed. They allowed a loan deal for seven months.”

Stands Krol

Ruud returns to Naples and is hailed as a club icon

Juliano, Napoli and Vancouver Whitecaps would get in strife with another, seven months later. Vancouver wanted Krol back but Napoli didn’t wanna let Krol go back. Juliano flew back to Canada and eventually returned with a deal.

With a journey of 27 hours in his legs and jetlag, Krol made his debut on Wednesday for Napoli against West Bromwich Albion. A week later he played first competition game for Napoli vs Pistoiese and since that first game Krol-mania ensued in Naples. In the last minute, he demonstrated his speciality, with a pass over 50 meters, reaching sub Pellegrini who scored the winner for Napoli. From that day on, Ruud’s life had changed. “The next day I was strolling through the city, and entered a fashion store. I adored the Italian fashion, and within minutes I was crowded by a shop full of people. The shop owner had to call the cops to get me safely out of there. Later I strolled to the harbour and a boat full fishermen returned that moment. And what I learned then and there: Napolitans show their affection pinching your cheeks. So within minutes, I had dozens of fishermen’s hands on my cheeks and I stank all afternoon of rotten fish, hahahaha.”

ruud cover

Krol continues: “Since then, it only became worse. I became a celeb. I was doing tv-shows with Claudia Cardinale, I wasn’t able to walk through the city, I had police escorts where ever I went. This adoration was embarrassing, I had a great life, made good money while all these people gazing at me were poor as… I got presents and food and free stuff from people who’d have nothing to eat… I received for a full year of pasta and wine from a complete stranger. It made me so humble and small. I thought “what the f is happening here…”.

The language barrier was there in his first season. Bruscolotti almost chokes on a piece of squid thinking about the coaching of Krol. “Whenever I wanted the defence to push up, I would yell FIORI but the proper terms is FORI”. Fiori means “flowers” so you can imagine their bemusement whenever I wanted to press… So I went to study Italian a bit harder.”

Once Krol got the language he went to talk to his coach Marchesi. “We were conceding too many goals. We conceded 6 goals in two matches vs Ascoli and Inter and we needed to change our game plan. I suggested to use a wing back on the left with a false left winger who’s join in midfield to form a block and a more defensive role for the actual midfielder. I started to coach this on the pitch myself, like a typically vocal and headstrong Dutch guy, hahaha. But it started to work, we started to play so well that we became a title candidate. The people here didn’t know what was happening. I can remember training sessions with 30,000 people watching!”

Ruud_Krol_2 tunesia

Ruud coaching Tunesia

By then, Krol also demonstrated his typical rigid mentality to Napoli by almost committing sacrilege. The jersey numbers in those days in Italy were fixed. The full back had #2 and #3. The #4 was the defensive mid and the libero had #6 (Baresi, Scirea, Picchi) and the man marker was the #5. But Krol was superstitious. The Jersey #5 had always been his and he demanded to play with his lucky number. It took some debating, but Napoli gave in.

Krol also experienced the other side of life in Naples… In 1980 the city was hit by three earthquakes: 2,500 dead, 8,000 people injured and 250,000 people homeless… “We played away in Bologna when it happened. When we returned I couldn’t believe what we say. As if a huge bomb was dropped on the city. Despair, grieve, destruction, pain…it was terrible.”

“I followed my instincts and went into the city. It was immense, 1ooos of people on the streets, working, clearing, helping others. Everyone pulled their weight. And I will never forget our first home game, a weekend later. I figured no one would be bothered to think about us or football. But boy was I wrong, the stadium was fuller than ever, they literally broke down the fences to get in. The people needed us, the football, to process all the grieve and pain.”

This balm for the soul worked better and better as the season went on, as Napoli was competing with the Old Lady Juventus (with Zoff, Bettega, Tardelli, Gentile) and with AS Roma with Bruno Conti and Falcao. Napoli ended third that season and Ruud Krol was voted as the Best Player of the Serie A.

Bruscolotti: “It was huge that a player with his reputation would play for us. Two World Cup finals, three European Cups. And when he actually lifted our club up to the top, the whole region became under his spell. You’ll see tomorrow how important Krol is for us. Still. What Cruyff was for Barcelona and George Best for Man United, Beckenbauer for Bayern, Krol was and is this for us!”

Zola De Laurentiis Krol

Ruud Krol, Napoli chair De Laurentiis, Gianfranco Zola

The next day, off to Stadio San Paolo and Krol wonders what to expect. He hasn’t been back for 32 years. “I think the old fans and the old hands at Napoli will remember me.” How wrong he was. When Krol gets out of the car, the crowd on the square is moving in, there’s whispers, people pointing, his name is being chanted. The first fans fall in his arms and hug him. People come from all angles, no matter how big or small, or what age, they want a hug, a handshake, a touch. Even the local cops join in. People press their toddlers in his arms for a photo-op. When Krol can finally make his way into the stadium he mutters that he can use a bit of peace of quiet now, but no rest for the wicked(ly talented). Another ex-Napoli player is in the stadium, waiting to meet Krol: “This day is awesome already,” says Gianfranco Zola. “And believe it or not, I was just talking about you! Someone asked me what kind of player would be needed at Manchester City, and I literally said: the City of today would need the Krol from Napoli, hahaha. True story!” Krol smiles and responds: “Ok Gianfranco, it’s a deal, but I’ll start with 45 minutes ok? Not sure about the knee.”

The Napoli chairman has arrived and Krol is directed on, towards the presidential offices of De Laurentiis where the mayor of Napoli joined the party. Big hugs, smiles and flashes of cameras. And then the next directive: “Ruud, you are required on the pitch!”

Krol and Zola walk to the tunnel to enter the pitch. Napoli’s current star, Marek Hamsik is standing in the circle and the 1000s of fans on the stands chant his name “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy”… There is a massive sweat spot on his back and goosebumps on his arms. Hamsik offers him a current Napoli jersey, with his number 5. Krol puts the jersey up in the air, with his right hand on his heart and walks off the pitch with a big grin. On the touchline he mutters “this is just too good to be true…” But then he lands back on Earth and says to the coach “And now it’s time to give Roma a cookie!”

Krol street

Stopped in the streets for handshakes and hugs

The result of the Roma game, in any season, will determine how the weather will be in Naples. After a win, the sun shines, the world is beautiful… After a loss, it’s gloomy, misty, autumn… Grey. “We had games here that we lost. Once 1-4 vs Roma, well you had to run for your life. They’d find whatever was loose in this stadium and throw it at you… I used to drive past this laborer every day I returned from training. I’d stop if I’d saw him to give him a free ticket for the next game. He loved it. But when we had lost, he’d see me and turn away. Gesticulating me to piss off. “Come back when you play well!”.

Krol ended his career at Napoli in a painful manner. The last game of the 3rd season, Napoli was fighting relegation and got seriously injured. His knee. The next season, Krol missed for three quarters as a result and when he was finally fit to play, it took him a while to find his usual level. In the last weeks of that season the technical director wanted to talk to Krol. “He visited me at home. And he was direct and straightforward: we want to take that next step to the top. And we want to sign a marquee a player, another superstar. We want to sign Diego Maradona and as a result we don’t think we can afford you anymore. That was a blow. But in hindsight, a wonderful decision for them. I had to swallow it but they did what they had to do.”

Krol has another anecdote about that last season. “We lost away, 4-1 at Udinese. The normal Italian response is: trainings camp. But the coach had a different idea. He wanted us to see this entertainer. And he was some sort of magician. A whole thing and lots of talk and suddenly he grabs a pair of scissors and starts to take cuts of hair from several players. Including mine. And then he started to have personal conversations with us. To me, he said I was not vocal enough anymore. He said: the players need your leadership. And I actually thought about it and thought, he’s right! I stopped doing it because by now the players should know it all. But they needed it. So in the next game, this magician was there and at the start of the game he walks to both goals and flicks the hairs he collated from us in the goal! And we won that game, vs Torino. And we started to climb up and it flowed again. Crazy. But I used similar techniques myself later in my coaching days in Egypt and South Africa. This was the first time I experienced it though and I just allowed it all to happen.”

Hamsik Krol

Current star Hamsik with former star Krol

His time in Italy changed him. Enriched him. The adventurer in him was awoken. Krol lived like a nomad ever since, playing in Cannes for two years in France until his knee forced him to quit. Then a coaching career which led him to Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, Holland (Oranje and Ajax), France, Egypt again, South Africa, Libya, Tunesia and Morocco. “Of all these adventures, the one in Naples is dearest to me, in all honesty. This is God’s city, with all the trials and tribulations and this is God’s people and the football club offers a temple in the midst of it.”

When we drink something in the hotel bar in Napels, Rudy starts to hum along with an Italian crooner. The waiter grabs his chance. With trembling hands, the youngster comes to the table. “Mr Rudy, is this really you? I am fan of yours from when I was little. My dad, he is a huge fan and stuck a poster of you on my wall in my kid’s room. I didn’t even know anything about football but I grew up having you as an icon on my wall. I never saw you play, but you were a part of my upbringing. I will tell my dad I met you and I served you a drink. He’ll never believe it!”

Krol goes back inside, re-hashing memories… He sits up: “Oh! You know who I remember now… The kit man at Napoli. What a guy. He’d wait for me in the morning and first thing he did was serve me up an espresso. He knew how much I loved it. And he’d prepare my boots. The way he treated them, his fingers on the leather. As if it was the cheek of a little baby. That image is symbolical for Naples.

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86 responses to “Ruud Krol: Royalty in Naples”

  1. Sybe Pals says:

    Love it – thanks Jan!
    Before my time but one of my favourites of the old fellas Ive checked out, aside from JC of course 😉

  2. Sybe Pals says:

    Janssen started in Spurs 4-0 win over Janmaat, who finally started again, and Watford.
    Though I feel he doesn’t see much of the ball I thought he was okay. Not on the score sheet however, unlucky to have hit the bar instead of net, and withdrawn at 61′.
    Martins Indi and Pieters start for Stoke hosting Wijnaldum and Pool, Afellay not in the squad. Liverpool came back to win 2-1. Gotta love Gini, works amazingly hard, rarely gives the ball away (43/48), and another great assist for Firmino’s game winner!
    Clasie starts for Southampton at West Brom, played 85 in his first start since Jan – scored a very nice goal from outside about 20′ in! Second highest passer on the side as well.
    De Roon left out from Middlesbroughs side, nice reward for his scoring last game I guess?
    Ake left out completely at Chelsea.

    Bazoer was okay for Wolfsburg at Shalke, seems quicker than when he was at Ajax. But a couple bad giveaways and failed clearances from the poor Wolfsburg backline found themselves down 4-0. He was probably the only one not guilty of a poor give away, so he played they lose 4-1 in the end.
    Huntelaar on the bench as usual, with a few late minutes. Maybe saving the ex-Ajax captain for the match versus Ajax this week 😉

  3. Sybe Pals says:

    Robben back in the starting lineup for Bayern.
    Just loves playing against Dortmund! Scored on one of his 8 attempts and had a staggering 8/11 on takeons, helping them win 4-1

    Hateboer and Letschert both subs in Italy, neither played any other role.

    Babel started for Bestikas and played 90 in their 3-4 win at Trabzon

  4. Yan says:

    The pressure continues on Vincent Janssen . Fans have already labelled him to be the biggest flop in Spurs history or the biggest joke in Englsh premier league . He still hasn’t score a single goal from outplay not the premier league. Extremely disappointing

    As for Nathan ake, he was able to play full 90min for every game for Bournemouth. Big mistake of going back to Chelsea . Yesterday not even included in the squad . Not a single played so far since came back. How many Dutch youngsters has Chelsea killed so far ?

  5. Sybe Pals says:

    Memphis back in Lyons starting lineup.
    Had an assist and created a couple chances but not close to enough as they lose 1-4.

    Dost started of course, along with Zeegelaar.
    Dost had a hattrick!
    Zeegelaar led the match in both tackles and take ons, kinda cool.

  6. wilson says:

    Thanks Jan for sharing. Flash back I guess. Had no idea there was a Dutch connection in Napoli like as in Milan. I presuming this was before Maradona time at Napoli.

    Mean while in eredivisie vitesse thrashed heerenveen 4-2. Wolfswinkel with a Hatrick.Alex Buttner also came off the bench with a assist to Wolfs third goal.he (wolf) has had good debut season since arriving fron Spain. I wouldn’t mind giving him in crack at NT with his current form. I think he is in his prime and is better than luuk de Jong but again it comes down servicing when playing with this type of strikers.

    • wilson says:

      Also reckon Sarri has done a good job at Napoli. Klaassen and Bazoer were both idots to refuse the transfer offer.

      • Emmanual says:

        No…Klassen and Bazoer and even Depay are not idiots..idiots are Afellay,Weil,BMI etc..
        Klassen knew he would flop once he leaves Ajax..BaZoer is Top notch,he is destined for greatness…

  7. andrew says:

    Thank you so much for this, Jan. Brilliant, just brilliant.

  8. ycsng0822 says:

    After the Bulgaria defeat, I have come to embrace the fact that the current Dutch team is no longer the stand out team in the world. It isn’t down to just poor coaching, but also the fact that we don’t have world class players anymore. Many of the current crop of players aren’t playing for the top teams. But there are promising talents no doubt. Think of Justin kluivert, de Ligt, karsdorp etc.

    Still rem the days where we can have Roy Makaay (top scorer in Spanish league) and Hasselbaink (top scorer for English league) sitting on the bench, with Kluivert (Barcelona) and Bergkamp (Arsenal) in starting 11. 😱

    • wilson says:

      I know this won’t happen, bring in Koeman and then you he see what he can do with this same players.

    • Emmanual says:

      We lack the class of Vaart,Roben,RVP,Sneijder…
      Beleive me there are some topclass players in making…
      Karsdorp-Bazoer-Kongolo-Ake-Naouri-Van de beek..are class apart….
      and there are good players likem
      Gini wijnaldum,Janssen, etc..

  9. Sybe Pals says:

    Ouch, Feyenoord show some character and resilience to come back to drawing after going down 2-0 to Zwolle after 15 mins, but ultimately the Berghuis double is not enough and they drop 2 points..
    Big moment when Toornstra missed a big chance around 67′, that would have been something.
    Nice to see Kongolo back on the bench, I hope Karsdorp is not out long – they really miss those 2!
    Ajax now just one point behind.

  10. Sybe Pals says:

    Blind and Fosu-Mensah on the bench for United versus awful Sunderland. Blind played the last 30, and closed out the clean sheet.
    Stekelenburg on the bench for Everton..

    Promes scored a game winning away penalty and assisted another on one of his 6 chances created in Spartaks 1-3 win.

    PSV very strong v Willem. 5-0 final.
    Totally dominated them, even though relying on a strong second half performance.
    Locadia replacing Luuk de Jong at HT and I’m not sure he was injured.
    A nice corner kick goal from Isimat and a free header from van Ginkel, who had a very good game, to kick start the game for them.
    Guardado motm (beauty goal and 3 assists), van Ginkel not far behind (2 goals and 5 chances created).
    I thought Willems was good as well before being subbed for Brenet at 60′.

    PSV trail Ajax by 4.

    Again some very poor defending on display in the eredivisie, difficult to judge its players levels next to players from better competitions. Entertaining though!

    • wilson says:

      Van Ginkel is looking so lethal in that forward role.cocu is now deploying him on that RW and it has really paid off for him.another player whom Danny should have utilized but failed to do so.

      • Sybe Pals says:

        Oh god it all comes back to Blind like it all comes back to Memphis for another.. okay, I’ll bite on the rant.

        actually Danny Blind did use van Ginkel, but van Ginkel was mostly injured or just not playing. imo any coach could be blamed for not utilizing van Ginkel in that time frame, cause no others’ would have – not fair to blame that one on Blind.
        But if we just say it’s too bad we didn’t always get a fit and firing van Ginkel available then I agree.

        • wilson says:

          He was available, but Danny decided to call Luuk de De Jong instead, just like he started de ligt over hoedt and it cost him his job. Simple as.

          • Sybe Pals says:

            Luuk de Jong does not have competition for a spot with van Ginkel, he only came back in when Janssen was out sick.
            Different situation for CB as well..

            Easy to defend Klaassen Toornstra and Sneijders selection over van Ginkel, who had just come back from injury ahead of Bulgaria.

          • wilson says:

            You see this is why I’m saying he failed to utilize Van Ginkel. Lens, Promes, Dost and if you include Janssen, initially there were four options up front. This was an crucial qualifier and by all means looking from technically point of view,this is where a coach with good depth would have gone with players that bring more dynamics to the game rather than jus to make numbers or are simply less tactically. I mean, you just think about it,luuk- Dost-promes- Lens. Is luuk technically better than the three. No its so obvious, did Luuk play, would luuk have made a difference than Dost,lens or Promes.these are simple technically accepts which Danny as a coach should have considered. This is the second season Van Ginkel has proven or is proving he is one of the best or if not the best in eredivise,then why the bloody hell don’t invest in a player like him than over players like luuk and klaassen who offer nothing.

            I said this leading up to the Bulgaria game if there is a late causality, Van Ginkel should receive the call up as he was out for two weeks and played full 90 the week before the league stopped for international break.

            In the best interest of the team and looking at how crucial the game was, this would have served the team greater eespecially with tougher games ahead.

  11. Sybe Pals says:

    Strootman played 90 in Roma’s 0-3 win at Bologna.
    Neither De Vrij or Hoedt in Lazio’s starting lineup today, although Hoedt is on the bench.

    van Persie Lens and van der Wiel all start for Fenerbahce. All 3 played 90, van Persie assisted the gamewinner and Lens added a late goal.

  12. Miguel Rosado says:

    ——————-Zoet——————-

    –Karsdorp—V.Dijk—DeVrij—-Willems—

    —-Wijnaldum—Strootman—V.Ginkel——

    ——–Robben—-Janssen—Berghuis——

    • Emmanual says:

      Remove Berghius ,Give wijnaldum freedom on LW to play maker..u will see magics…i woul go with
      —————-Zoet————–
      Karsdorp–Devrij—Virgil—-Kongolo
      ————–Ake—————-
      —–Bazoer——-Vanginkel——-
      Wijnaldum—-Janssen——-Annholt.

  13. Miguel Rosado says:

    We might not have the best combination of players but we have enough talent to give a fine battle. We don’t have Bergkamp’s creativity, Van Basten’s goals, Davids’ tackles, or Stam’s but we can do better and I think we all agree on that.

    Actually I think there is not one nation with the talent of previous generations.

  14. Emmanual says:

    We must stop testing with certain players thats the first step..
    After the injury Strootman lost a bit…
    I think Ake can be a better pure DM than stroot..Bazoer and Juste is not away..
    We need to Find a Rock solid Dm with vision.At present Strootman handles that role,he is not great at that..We need some one who is capable of hard tackle when his name seen on board opponent should fear,Nijel had it,Stam had it…
    Guys who are doing ferrocious tackles are Bruma,Tete, and De roon…Juste and Bazoer can do that if they want to..
    Then we must deploy players who can dribble and give a nice pass in final third.Only few players can do that
    Those are
    Ramseelar
    wijnaldum
    Bazoer
    Janssen
    ut hardly they played under Blind,it was all klassen,Dost,Propper..Propper has dribbling skills but oh my god such a lazy player on pitch..

  15. Jan says:

    Hans van Breukelen is doing his round and has said recently in an unguarded conversation, picked up by the media:

    “I want Louis van Gaal to come in and do it. Even if it means I will lose my job because he wants my role as well: fine! I’ll go.”

    • wilson says:

      I actually read that article as well and if Van Gaal does get a post in KNVB then the next coach for NT will definitely be none other than Fabio Capello. they were both spotted together vs the Italy game for no reason, are good friends and looking at the coaching career of of Capello, with out a doubt Van Gaal will recommend his name to KNVB. he is also currently with a job and would be a good puppet for van Gaal to pull the strings. two birds with one stone.

      • Emmanual says:

        Van Gaal is not that stupid as Hiddinski…
        FYI…LVG Vs Hiddinski
        LVG has won titles every where..Authoritatively he won not just eredivise..
        When did Hiddink won that out side dutch leage?england?SPain?Germany?
        LVG made the ajax 1995 team ,that eliminated in EC1996 under hiddink i mean such a talented team..(Advance answer for you 2002WC saga with only 1 spot to qualify and had to face 2 best team of that era still a narrow miss with out important players)..
        Then LVG took team destroyed by Fart van marwijk and took us to WC..though he made mistakes he was quick enough to fix every error he made..Like Hidingski BMI,etc…
        Hiddink is a joke ..you know why??with such a failure in his career he should have figured out what dutch had issues after WC2014..
        AM not saying LVG is perfect and i am against Appointing Cappello as coach..

        • andrew says:

          @Tiju,

          Things don’t have to be either/or. There is nothing wrong with concluding that both Hiddink and Van Gaal are very good coaches; both with long distinguished careers. Each won European Championships, each won multiple league titles, each took the national team to the WC semi-finals. (In the case of Hiddink, he also took South Korea to a WC semi-final and he took Russia to an EC semi-final). Each coached clubs at the highest levels of Europe. Each have taken teams beyond expectations. Both are among the most respected coaches of their era.

          And, as with any coach who has been at it for as long as they each have had seasons/campaigns that are best left forgotten. Hiddink did not do a great job in the last EC qualifying. LVG failed qualify for the 2002 WC. (Your defense that he was in a qualifying group with the two best teams of that era—Portugal and Ireland—is not borne out by the performance of either of those teams in the 2002 WC or after. Portugal couldn’t get out of its group, and Ireland went straight out in the round of 16, after qualifying from probably the easiest group in that WC. Note South Korea, under Hiddink, went further than both Ireland or Portugal.)

          Give both their due.

          • Emmanual says:

            With the fit squad Hiddink at his disposal Hiddnik should hve won it 1998WC..lets say bad luck..
            but Dont tell me Portugal and ireland were weak.in 2002. both were hell of europian teams..Portugal was humiliating england,Germany etc..Roy keane is ireand was a tough team to beat…there was only 3 strong teams europe had that Was Beckahm,solcampbell england,Keanes ireland an figos portgal..Hasnt you forgot same portugal team kicked out every one in 2004 only to loose vs Greece.??
            Southkorea vs spain..south korea vs Italy dont tell me about..that was disgrace to football history of corruption.
            EC2008 orange just messed up in one game like protugal did in Ec2004..So it was nt hiddinski..Hiddinski is a good coach but he is nowehere near to be compared with LVG.

  16. Jan says:

    Hi Wilson, yes Krol was the Napoli star before Maradona. As the article says: Krol was sold to allow the club to pay for Maradona.

    As for the NT and our chances, some remarks to comments here…

    I do think our quality is mediocre at the moment compared to 2010, 1998, 1978 etc but it’s not the be all and end all.

    But our 1990 squad was super strong. Our 2000 squad too. We still didn’t do too well.

    Greece didn’t have a world class team in 1994. They won it!

    We need to realise it’s not per se the quality of the individuals. It’s the system, the game plan, the best team vs the best players, and then it’s….

    physical work, mental strength, focus.

    If we are currently a 6,5 and not a 9, we need to make sure we definitely get a 9 for discipline, work rate.

    • aanvalluh says:

      Totally agree.
      We don’t have to have the highest talent level in the history of Dutch football to be successful, we’ve seen that in the past couple of World Cups and the disappointment of more talented squads in the past had been really well described in articles in this blog, among other places. Someone said it here recently– we have enough talent, in terms of individual players, to give any team in the world a difficult game. Given the right mentality, team discipline, and work rate, that should be enough to qualify for every Euro and World Cup and even make pretty deep tournament runs.

      This was another cool article, well done Jan.

  17. wilson says:

    http://www.football-oranje.com/huntelaar-confirms-schalke-exit/. I’m learning towards AJax now to win the title now and I’m thinking if he does move back to Ajax, it could well open doors for him in NT again. Ajax could well reinforce their front line next season with his arrival and if wolfswinkel has reached 17 goals thus far after coming back to eredivisie, how much will he score.

  18. Emmanual says:

    Since koeman is not available….We can only pray that Dick Advocate takes over..or else we can forget WC..

  19. andrew says:

    @Tiju, I don’t know that I used the term “weak” to describe either Portugal or Ireland in 2002. But look at their performance in the WC. Let me repeat, in the most important tournament in the world, on the biggest stage, that Portugal team didn’t get out of its group. Sorry, you can’t call Portugal the best team of its era with that kind of performance.

    The Dutch underperformed in the 2002 qualifying campaign: losing 2-0 at home to Portugal, blowing a 2-0 lead late in Lisbon, losing in the final all/or nothing game in Ireland. (For the “why’s” check the archives here, Jan had an excellent post on it awhile back. LVG was not blameless.)

  20. JB says:

    What a turn by Dybala!

    We can develop these types of players, but for whatever reason it’s just not happening right now

  21. Jan says:

    Capello and Van Gaal were not at the Oranje Italy friendly “for no reason”.

    They were there as VIP guests for Clarence Seedorf who invited them there, as the KNVB honoured Seedorf for his contributions that night.

    Signing Dick Advocaat would be preposterous as NT manager.

    He quit the assistant job 3 months in for money in Turkey, while being loaded and after saying “I wanna give back to my country”. Dick is a dick.

    Lacks loyalty. Should never coach Oranje ever again.

    • Emmanual says:

      Dick might be Dick…but he can steady the boat. and he is capable of pulling a surprise and he can help us from shame..I am not a fan of Dick Advocate..but he puts some players were they belongs..

  22. Balkan says:

    Thank you for this wonderful writing Jan. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I remember those distant days when I would listen on the radio when Napoli had a game just to hear how Krol was playing. Krol was a giant, an imposing player, beautiful workhorse. Good old days. It makes me sad to see what age does to once upon a time idols. I guess this is life.

  23. van banger says:

    Top post Jan – I knew very little about Krol in Italy, Wow, how amazing must it have been to adored so fondly by the fans! This is something that we just don’t see in other countries (the passion I mean), I think that sort of passion flows on to the players and forces them to give those extra 1% ers that make a difference in a game.
    It’s what our NT needs right now, players who will give their all, sometimes the best players just don’t have the passion yet a young upstart will go out and give 110% effort because it means more to him.
    I said 2 years ago that Van Ginkle would be crucial for our NT ( as did many others on here), I still believe that to be true and it’s great to see him hitting a purple patch lets hope he gets a call up and performs on the big stage. I also agree that Stroot has been disappointing which bugs me because I watch a lot of Roma games and he is brilliant for them, as someone said maybe he needs to be freed up to play more box to box and someone like Ake to be deployed as a pure defensive mid to take the pressure off Stroot.
    Poor Jannsen, missed from in front again! Although he had a solid game and was involved in most.of the play, Harry is back now so we will see what Poch does with him.

    • wilson says:

      for me Janssen is Immobile and Morata kind of striker. Decisive in the box if given space and ability to keep ball at feet. I think Dost and Janssen is same version of RVP and Huntelaar but to a level below them.

      you have to take positives from the ITALY game and you can’t deny the fact that front line did show flashes of true attacking football upfront. I mean

      Promes – Depay- Lens.

      Add some quality and versatile midfielders.

      wijnaldum – Ake- Strootman- Toornstra

      a commander in the back line

      Van Dijk

      flanked by two rover CBs/LBS who can cover the flanks.

      Riedewald- karsdorp

      promes- Depay- Lens

      wijnaldum- Ake- Strootman- Toornstra

      Riedewald- Van Dijk- karsdorp

      Zoet.

      • Emmanual says:

        Janssen has more quality than Promes and Depay..karsdorp is not a great tackler..if you play 3 backs..
        if Ornage moves to 343 then
        Nouri—-Janssen—-Wijnaldum

        Blind—Ake—Bazoer—Vanginkel
        —–Kongolo–Virgil–Bruma—–
        ————Zoet—————–
        on bench
        —–Annholt—-Lenz——–Promes——-
        Williams—Strootman–Ramseelar–karsdorp
        ——-Hoedt—-Devrij–Mensah———-
        ————-Cillessen/Vermeer————-
        on stand bye
        Toonstra
        Vanrhijn
        Leory fer

  24. van den Berg says:

    Klaassen with both goals as Ajax tear Schalke apart. Awesome game from Ajax. Could have scored more but Schalke goalie was very good.

    • Emmanual says:

      I wanted to watch the match..it was weekend here,due to heavy tiredness i fell asleep..Seems Ajax played outstanding game..How you rate it Van Den burg?
      Scoring goals is good thing thing i mean when your team plays well you will get chance after chance,the you have to grab it..But there are strikers like RVN they only need a halfchance to score.Such kind of strikers decides the outcome of game in tight matches..

      • Emmanual says:

        1 penalty completely created and owned by Amin younes…Good that klassen scored at least from penalty..
        Next was a tap in direct to net from justin kluivert pass,though he almost spoiled that towards Gk.

  25. Jan says:

    Ok, I am going CRAZY here with Tiju – Emmanual.

    whenever he (she?) types, BS comes out. He can’t help it. He should run for President of the US.

    Ajax was wonderful. There is no Van de Burg. Klaassen’s second goal was top notch. Not a easy ball on the volley, with nice spin, away from the goali, while suspended in the air… A super goal!

    Am I the only one here guys???

    For fuck sakes, he says the 2-0 was a tap in????

    Depay and Promes both are WAYYYY more skillfull than Janssen. Janssen is a bomber, like Gerd Muller. Big ass to use to create space and a venomous left foot.

    His handling speed is not good enough for EPL and his speed in general is lacking.

    FFS!

    • Emmanual says:

      FFS………Klaasen second goal was weak fluke shot if not tap in…very very lucky that in went in..very close to the body of GK,he could nt connect it properly that it was spinning(not his credit).Over all klassen is the weakest link yester day they had in Ajax teaem..
      Janssen is class as no says Janssen is better skilled than Promes and Depay…But he is class above them..Promes at least had some good games for NT..Depay and Klassen are highly overrated shit..

      • Jaapvdg says:

        You didn’t watch the game. Why on earth do you go and comment on something you have no idea about. Klaassen was very good today, schone was absent and klaassen controlled the midfield. Cool finish with the penalty, very confident. Second goal was very good too. He found himself a lot of space and finished superb. Like Jan said not an easy finish at all. I enjoyed the the ajax domination, midfield was pure class with the high pressure which completely overwhelmed the opponents. Stop talking shit about klaassen. He had a very good game against schalke

    • wilson says:

      nice win for Ajax but schalke has been have really hit with injury crisis this season and sitting 10th in bundasliga just sums up their performance this season.

      as for klaassen goal. too much time and space. the keeper was retriving, very hard to stop left volley when you moving in the opposite direction. klaassen followed up well and was freely picked up by JK. was a gift imo.

  26. Jan says:

    Thanks all for your input on the 2nd Klaassen goal. I started to doubt myself. He took it in the opposite direction as the goalie was moving into, Tiju!

    It was a smart strikers goal. And yes, defensively Schalke was totally played out of position, you can call it a gift, but it was also well played by Traore, to Kluivert, cut back to Klaassen who always arrives at the right time.

    The conundrum for me is this…

    Tiju has no clue about football, almost everything he says about football is shite, but he is a big Oranje fan at the same time!

    What does that mean?????

  27. wilson says:

    in some other news VVV-Venlo has been promoted to eredivisie.one guy to look out for in the team is vito van crooij. Art Langeler actually called him up for the U 21s and gave him is debut for jong orange vs jong Portugal. good talent and playing in eredivisie will be a step up for him.

    • wilson says:

      Also it will be interesting to see if any team go in the transfer market for Tom Boere of FC OSS.. he has been a revelation in ereste divise with 33 goals so far.

  28. Sybe Pals says:

    greetings ~ had a tough week and so missed most of this weeks’ matches!

    Besides Robben and Bayerns home loss to Madrid, I only saw Ajax big win versus Shalke. Great to see! Captain Klaassen showing his value, getting praise from many critics even – only classless fools are upset to see him do well. I thought van de Beek was very good in CM, filling in for Schone, and Kluivert had some great moments too.

    I saw Janssen finish his second chance after his first was blocked for an injury time goal versus Bournemouth, Vorm still out. Spurs won 4-0, VJ only subbed on in the 87th minute. Really nice to see his mates gather around to congratulate him!
    Watched Stoke host Hull, Martins Indi was very good, collected lots of loose balls and a couple crucial clearances when it was still 1-1, and 2-1, Pieters was alright.
    Janmaat played 90′ in Watfords 1-0 win over Swansea, who started Narsingh as well as Fer, as usual.

    Bazoer played 81′ in a big win for Wolfsburg.
    Lots of good work in the midfield before coming off injured, hopefully not serious.

    Strootman and Hateboer both played 90 in their 1-1 draw.
    Lazio welcomed de Vrij back from injury, Hoedt got a start again as well. Watched the last bit, Hoedt had a great intervention at the end moments before they scored their late equalizer in the 2-2 draw, which should have been a win (missed penalty).

    • Emmanual says:

      Classless foolish people praising klassen for goals…that is more correct..

      • Sybe Pals says:

        hahaha classic, our precious blog clown tries to dig himself out of a hole with another ridiculously childish response akin to ‘no, you are’.
        Right, the only 2 goals of the game, both inspired and clinical finishes – I cant believe anyone would praise him!
        No need to explain how that is classless or foolish.
        Get a life!

      • van den Berg says:

        How dare he receive praise for scoring? Imagine the plaudits that would be showering down on his head if he missed both chances.

  29. Sybe Pals says:

    Robben on the bench today for Bayern, played the last 30 in the 0-0 draw.
    Clasie stayed on the bench for Southampton.

    PSV at ADO – missed most of it but an early goal by Propper from Locadia was cancelled out by a late goal from Havenaar for a 1-1 draw.
    2 points dropped for sure.

  30. Sybe Pals says:

    Feyenoord v Utrecht
    Very nice Toornstra free kick saved just before halftime, but he wouldn’t be stopped a few minutes into the second half when he brilliantly struck a looping Jorgensen header over his old teams keeper. Really great season for him continues, that’s 8 goals in his last 5 home games.
    I thought Elia and Vilhena were both very good too, and again so was Ayoub at CM with Utrecht and I like young Troupee at RB although beaten a little easy in the buildup to Elia’s goal – which was a beauty. Nice to see Kongolo start again too, for me he is another who is ready for a move to some bigger competition to really improve, although Feyenoord qualify for the CL next year and get a decent group then staying isnt the end of the world. Unfortunately, went off with (hopefully just) a cramp with 10 mins to go.
    Feyenoord close out the 2-0 win.

    Former Feyenoord kid Wijnaldum also played 90 with Liverpool, winning at West Brom 0-1. Always working in the middle and crucial to their transition game.. nice moments at the end where he showed charisma and super stamina holding the ball and chasing it out of the middle etc..

    PS – lineups out for Man Utd v Chelsea, Mourinho fields a weaker side, plus both Blind and Fosu-Mensah both on their bench, no room on Chelsea’s bench for Ake.. 🙁

  31. Sybe Pals says:

    Crazy stuff for Memphis who started for Lyon at Bastia, one of their players who was attacked
    https://mobile.twitter.com/ol_plus/status/853625038767104001

  32. Sybe Pals says:

    Ajax in a tricky match hosting Heerenveen, who were still undefeated versus the big 3 Dutch clubs. And great start for Heerenveen, with Larsson making a nice play on a quick break to set up Ghoochannejhad who finishes cooly past Onana. Ajax take overs the possession and add the finish, with 2 good plays from de Ligt. A corner goal for Viergever following a long range shot and then a nice one-two play with Dolberg attacking from the back. Klaassen knocks in another goal, just to piss Tiju and Wilson off, to end the half 3-1 Ajax.
    Dolberg scores a pen after he easily rounds St Juste then is taken down by Thorsby, and then Younes and Neres combine for a 5th splitting Heerenveens backline open again. van de Beek probably should have added a 6th.
    Apparently heerenveen really miss van Aken! Expected more of them with Schaars back in the side. 5-1 Ajax win in the end and they keep the pressure on Feyenoord.

    Elsewhere, poor Huntelaar not even in Shalke’s bench :/

    • wilson says:

      no matter how many goals he scores but the fact will remain the same.doesn’t have creativity and vision. one in every 5 touches will be good, is a hard worker and good finisher. between him and toornstra, toornstra is tecynically better than him. klaassen was a regular under Danny and was rotated all round upfront by Danny to utilize him best to his abilities. we all have seen what happened. It’s time to move on.klaassen comes with limited ceiling. no doubt there will be times or with some teams he will standout but you need players who can shift to another level or can go out of their comfort zone.unfortunately klaassen doesn’t posess those qualities.

      • wilson says:

        also remember Kyut in that 2010 final. how his limitation was perfectly exposed in that final.he just couldn’t peneretrate the defense and hence just kept passing back which was soooooooo depressing to watch.though both play different position but again this is a classic example of what to expect when you have players with limitation and how it can affect the team overall especially in big games..

      • Sybe Pals says:

        haha you actually are upset when he scores? I was only kidding of course.. anyway what is this debate that it must be one or the other? what if they played together and had great chemistry, could you deal with that?

        I am okay with both, but neither of them REALLY inspire me, to be honest.. not sure which 1 I pick, if I had to pick just one of those 2.
        But no surprise at all to me if someone chooses the one who is 4 years younger, is his teams’ captain, and has also more goals and more assists than the other and has already played caps with his NT. 😉

        btw Klaassen probably would not have played more than one position if not for injuries – same reason we see Toornstra’s versatility at Feyenoord!

        • wilson says:

          why would I. maybe if he keeps getting selected ahead of other potentials, then I will.

          • wilson says:

            probably what you said about klaassen is exactly what Danny Blind was taking into consideration when selecting him. unfortunately it turned out to be a waste of time and cost him his job.

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