Tag: Brard

Feyenoord Legend “silent” Wim Jansen passes…

Boy, what a sensational team they are developing up there… Van Beveren on goal. Now Van der Kuylen, Cruyff and Rensenbrink up front. Nico Reinders has been there for a while of course. Wim Suurbier as right back and now Wim Jansen joins in to anchor the midfield.

75 years is way too young, but Wim Jansen was struggling with Alzheimers for a while now and he was deteriorating really swiftly.

Wim Jansen is one of those unsung heroes of Dutch football. And that was mainly because he didn’t like being an “ununsung” hero…

But a hero he is. They’ll remember him fondly in Japan, in Glasgow, in Washington DC and in Amsterdam but mainly in Rotterdam (where the fans and the club will hold a memorial for him this coming Saturday in front of De Kuip Stadium).

He started his career like so many kids. But as opposed to most: Wimpie (little Wim) was not your typical rebel rousing streetwise rascal. His parents didn’t enjoy sports. And Wim was a fan of billiards and would always be in time home for supper. His personality was perfect, the ideal son-in-law. Feyenoord doctor Arbarbanel knows it for sure: “He’s a good kid but he will never make it at the top”.

Big Willem of Xerxes versus Little Wim of Feyenoord

When he is 13 years old, he is diagnosed with a knee problem. A “weak knee” is the diagnosis. And he was never to play again. Feyenoord even sent him away. And Wimpie decided to just play on the street, with his mates. Wim lives in the Old North of Rotterdam, where Feyenoord icon Coen Moulijn, the Messi like left winger of Feyenoord, lives. And Wimpie and his mates see their hero drive to the Kuip regularly, all in awe. But a year after Wim’s medical diagnosis, he returns to Feyenoord! He has grown and became stronger and his knee holds it all together well. Wimpie is captain of the C youth team and signs his first semi pro deal at 16 years old. He works the day in the office in the Rotterdam port and in the evening and in the weekend, he makes 30 guilders as a semi pro ( 12 euros). He usually goes to the match with his buddy Jan Boskamp (who would also make it to the NT squad for the 1974 World Cup) and Joop van Daele (who would become world famous for a week or so, as the match winner in the Feyenoord World Cup for teams win).

Wimpie belongs to the Feyenoord inventory, almost. He’s always there and he’s everywhere. When the president is asked in 1966 when a home grown player will make it big, he points at Wim Jansen: “There he is! That lad will be a big player one day”.

And he does make it into the first team, as so-called left inside forward ( in a 3-2-5 system). Coen Moulijn is still with the club and loves playing with Jansen: “I remembered him from the street where I lived. He was a real creative player but that disappeared when he got older. He’s the ultimate team player. A passer of the ball. I loved playing with Jansen more than with Van Hanegem. Wim was the master of one touch and would always launch me. Van Hanegem was harder to predict. And Wim is a nice guy, you know.” And Wim was in awe that he was actually playing the same team as his big idol.

Feyenoord youth team wins title, with Wim Jansen below far right. Next to him Jan Boskamp. Second from left, sitting, Joop van Daele, the later matchwinner of the World Cup match

Jansen would play for Feyenoord 1 for 15 years and he would form the core of the new Feyenoord, with Ove Kindvall from Sweden, Ruud Geels and Rinus Israel. When Willem van Hanegem is signed a year later, the perfect midfield couple is born. Jansen would become the first Feyenoord full pro and would develop what he called “blind communication” with Van Hanegem. The two acted as twins and even bought homes practically next ot each other in my home town of HI Ambacht.

Feyenoord and the players realised that now, the game was about the results. And about winning points so the players would make more. Rinus Israel became Jansen’s mentor. “Could I ask for a better one?” With De Kromme, Jansen developed this telepathic bond. Willem van Hanegem: “He was so good. Wim could play anywhere on the pitch. He couldn’t be a goalie, though… too small. But Wim would always pass the ball with intelligence, with purpose. In today’s game, you’d probably compare him to Paul Scholes, or Jorginho or Kimmel. Smart, effective… always passing and moving.”

In the 60s, Georg Kessler selects him for the Dutch NT where he plays next to Cruyff and Willy van der Kuylen. Kessler: “Wim Jansen should be the role model for today’s youths. Not Cruyff!” The 20 year old midfielder is not too comfortable in the Dutch midfield, as he is surrounded by Ajax players, such as Bennie Muller, Henk Groot, Piet Keizer and Johan Cruyff. When Oranje fails to qualify for the Euros in 1968, Jansen loses his spot. The 1970 World Cup and the 1972 Euros are also missed by the Dutch and Jansen would only play two internationals in those early 70s. The coach – Fadrhonc – usually picks a midfield with Neeskens, Van Hanegem, Gerrie Muhren or Theo de Jong.

Jansen is not happy but will focus his efforts on his club. In 1970 he wins the European Cup and the World Cup and Willem van Hanegem and Wim Jansen (big Wim and Wimpie) conquer the world.

Against his friend Johan, when Barca met Feyenoord

Ernst Happel, the Austrian former star and current Feyenoord coach, becomes his mentor in tactics. Jansen realises that the pass and move game is the key game. “Taking on players and dribbling is nice but it does result in loss of possession. The ball is always faster than the player, so by passing and moving you can outsmart any opponent.” Happel calls Jansen the accelerator in the team. Where Van Hanegem sometimes slows the game down (on purpose) or waits for the perfect timing for a cross, Jansen is a one-touch player who moves the play relentlessly.

Wim Jansen is the King of Playing Simple. As JC once said: football is a simple game, but to play simple is the hardest thing there is. He is also the King of Silence. He loves anonymity, he loathes publicity. Famously, Johan Derksen once traveled the world with him, visiting famous youth academies and Jansen would go on and on about football, share investing and The Beatles (his three passions) but when Johan needed to interview him formally, Jansen would not be able to answer more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A very private man.

When Feyenoord plays their semi finals against AC Milan in 1970, Jansen completely nullifies star player Gianni Rivera and scores a Ziyech type goal. Feyenoord would go on to beat Celtic for the trophy and Jansen’s name is internationally settled. In 1974 he’d win the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord, beating Spurs.

When Oranje travels to the World Cup 1974, coach (supervisor) Rinus Michels is plagued by injuries. When Drost, Israel, Laseroms, Mansveld and Hulshoff all fall away for the CB role, Michels (Cruyff?) picks Arie Haan. And this is the impetus needed for Jansen, as he is picked as the third midfielder, next to Van Hanegem and Neeskens (Gerrie Muhren is also injured). “I am grateful to be part of this and if I can make minutes, it would be awesome.” Well, Wim
Jansen played every minute and was one of the outstanding players – with Van Hanegem, Cruyff, Rensenbrink and Rep – of this magical Oranje team.

In that fatal WC 74 finals…

Through his games with the NT, Jansen struck a deep friendship with Cruyff. The late master of the game said repeatedly in interviews that Jansen was the only player he knew that shared his football insights and ideas about football tactics. Even Willem van Hanegem famously said that when JC and Wimpie start debating football, he’d go to the bar for another glass of wine, as it became hocus pocus for him!

Four years later, Jansen is also part of the squad managed by Ernst Happel winning silver again (losing gold…?) in Argentina.

Back in Holland, Feyenoord’s management is making (financial) mistake after mistake and the one richest club on the planet (!) is fading. When Jansen gets into conflict with the board and coach Jezek, Jansen decides to move away.

When his buddy Cruyff moves to Washington Diplomats, Wim Jansen decides to follow him.

The news drops like a bomb. “Shocking Farewell” is the headline of the AD newspaper. “I am maybe a bit quiet, but I have an opinion and I’m headstrong. I can’t stand for what happened. I am gone and I don’t think I’ll ever come back here.” When asked about the media mayhem that ensued, he said: “Don’t worry, in 2 weeks time, I’ll be forgotten.”

He wouldn’t last more than one season. “Life in America is wonderful, but the football here…they simply don’t get it.”

Juan Lozano, Johan Cruyff, Wim Jansen

So now what? Well, Johan Cruyff has the answer. He is now technical coordinator at Ajax and he advises the club to sign Jansen. Ajax has a number of great young talents – as per usual – but defensively, it’s like Swiss Cheese. Ajax is 8th in the table with a tremendous number of goals conceded.

Jansen made his debut for Ajax in December 1980. In De Kuip. Against Feyenoord. And the most famous ice-ball ever takes the headlines as an angry Feyenoord supporter throws the iceball towards the players when they start their warming up. The ice-ball hits Jansen in the eye and damages his cornea. He would try to play, for 15 minutes but was subbed when he wasn’t able to see what was happening too well. To put insult to injury, his future son-in-law Stanley Brard decided to take him out with a fierce tackle as well and that was it. Wimpie went from Mr Feyenoord to “dog-dick” (hondelul) in a heartbeat.

Jansen here right after being hit by the ice-ball

But Jansen is no push over. He would stay another season and mentor youngsters like Frank Rijkaard, Vanenburg, Kieft and Olsen. In that second season, the maestro himself puts his boots on again too and with Soren Lerby in midfield, Cruyff as false 9 and Jansen managing it from the back with Rijkaard, Ajax and Wim Jansen won the title.

Wimpie tried it for 15 minutes in his debut vs Feyenoord

He starts to think about life after his active career and he starts to collect information. Intelligence. He’s basically a collector. He collects shares, stamps and now he started collecting information about training practices, about nutrition, the working of the mind, and more. His database and archives become famous and more and more coaches and reporters find the way to his home to dive in Jansen’s footballing brain. When Feyenoord contacts him to come and coach the youth, the love for his club is re-kindled and Jansen would start a whole new phase in his career.

More in part 2…

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Feyenoord chooses youth

A lot of great things in the world are born out of necessity. In the golden 1970s, Feyenoord was one of the more wealthy clubs in the world. A massive stadium, one of the most intriguing coaches ever ( Ernst Happel) and a sensational team with the likes of Israel, Kindvall, Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. And a nice and shiney European Cup.

But the money went and not only in Rotterdam…. The Dutch football culture has been eroded and only Ajax has been able to keep the Dutch flame alive with their tremendous youth academy over the last decades.

Feyenoord may have won the UEFA Cup in 2002, but that was quite an anomaly and done with players brought in by Bert van Marwijk from other clubs, such as NEC’s Kees van Wonderen, Go Ahead Eagles’ Bosvelt, NAC’s Pierre van Hooijdonk and Japanese wunderkind Shinji Ono. The only local talent in that team was Robin van Persie and he made it hard for Van Marwijk to commit him to the club.

But the dramatic financial results of the last ten years has forced Feyenoord to do the only thing possible: focus on their own talent development.

Koeman recognises Louis van Gaal in the stands

The biggest asset Feyenoord has (and has had) in this field was lured back into the club: Wim Jansen. The old fox got his son-in-law Stanley Brard, former Feyenoord defender (and notoriously left winger when Johan Cruyff was with the club) to lead the Feyenoord academy and the rest is history. Players like Leroy Fer, Jonathan de Guzman, Georginho Wijnaldum, Jerson Cabral, Jordy Clasie, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Luc Castaignos came through and in some way or format have created value for the Stadium club.

And the Feyenoord fans have shown their appreciation. By filling up the stadium in every home game. While the scouts of big clubs from England, Italy, Germany and Italy find ways to buy tickets to De Kuip as well.

With Ronald Koeman at the helm for yet another season and youngsters Boetius and Vilhena recently signed new long-term contracts as well. The next targets for technical director Martin van Geel are Stefan de Vrij ( desired by Chelsea) and Graziano Pelle (desired by most women in Holland).

Stanley Brard is being chased by international clubs as well. Not so much to make a jump to these clubs but to explain how he does it. Martins Indi is a typical example of a player who benefited most from Brard’s approach.

Ted Immers

Until his 17th, the strong defender was never seen as a great talent. But Brard recognised – with his team of youth coaches – that the tall Martins Indi has the basic requirements for a defender: mental strength, focus, heading skills and speed. By working with him on an individual basis, Martins Indi’s vision and technical skills improved sensationally,

That Martins Indi is now symbol for the new Feyenoord. Talented, hard working and definitely a lad who is ready to move even higher up. The Feyenoord fans adore him and the interaction between him (and the other players) and the Legion is tremendous. Louis van Gaal has discovered the youngster and with two goals to his name in Oranje, most international top teams have his name on the list as well.

Feyenoord expects to be able to sell some of their best players every season, and sees this as a way to make the club financially healthy. And Stanley Brard is convinced that if Feyenoord can limit those transfers to two per summer, the academy should be able to keep up. Brard also gets lots of offers from foreign clubs for consultancy, as they would love to adopt the development philosophy. One of the key elements for Feyenoord, being awarded as the best youth academy of the nation for three years in a row, is the use of ex players, such as Roy Makaay, Gaston Taument, Joop Hiele, Wim Jansen and Michel Valke.

“We can expect financial injections into the club based on our education. Clubs want to buy our know-how and we will export youth coaches to China or Columbia, to set up youth academies there.”

Roy Makaay is working hard on delivering strikers. The former phantom supported super striker John Guidetti last season and is now thrilled to support new phenomenon Graziano Pelle. One player he has a weak spot for is Anass Achahbar, the 18 year old stocky center striker of the Feyenoord C-youth.

“Anass told me Feyenoord shouldn’t sign Pelle,” laughs Makaay. “He said: you have me! But Achahbar, strong on the ball and handy in the use of his body, is too young to carry all that pressure on his shoulders. He will have to wait.”

Anass Achahbar scored another goal

The young talent gets his minutes in Feyenoord 1 and scored a thrilling goal late in the Sparta Prague European cup game. With a typical backheel. “These goals, you basically score instinctive.”

Achahbar burns with ambition. His age is nothing to him. “My benchmark is very high. I want to reach the absolute top. I have always wanted to play, every day. I am not happy with my current role. I want to play as much as possible. I want to hear my name chanted, I want to be important for the club.”

Feyenoord copped some criticism from the likes of Willem van Hanegem when a number of “could-be” players were signed from mid-tier clubs. Vormer, Goossen, Singh, Immers, Janmaat, Verhoek… With the risk that talented youth players would – again – be put on hold, development-wise.

But talent will always emerge and it’s Ronald Koeman who has chosen to play youngster Boetius and Vilhena over more established names like Verhoek and Vormer, while Janmaat and Immers have proven real assets to the team.

The player who dominates the spotlight in Rotterdam now, is – again – the center striker. This time, it’s Graziano Pelle. On loan from Parma. The lanky, elegant Italian was scouted years ago by Louis van Gaal for AZ, when Van Gaal saw the striker excel for Young Italy. But Pelle was never a success for AZ and hardly found the net in 3 years with the Alkmaar club.

Also in his homeland, Pelle never made it as a prolific striker.

Ronald Koeman took a gamble on the fan favorite. “I worked briefly with him at AZ and despite his lack of goal scoring, you could see he was very skilful. If I needed to chance a last minute deal with a striker on loan, I preferred him as I know his personality and he knows me and he knows Dutch football. I knew that with the right team around him, and wingers to service him, he would score 10 to 15 goals in the season.”

Pelle already scored 10 in the Eredivisie.

Koeman thinks it’s too early to talk title, but it’s clear that with Twente, PSV and Ajax not in best form, Feyenoord could wriggle itself between the contenders.

Daryl Janmaat: attacking defender

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