Tag: Neville

Two deaths, one sad…

We had to major incidents to discuss, in the past week…

The so-called Super League (often debated as a future concept in football) was conceived! A brilliant plan. But only from the perspective of greedy money grabbers. Definitely not from the perspective of the fans, the existing competitions and …. sports in general.

It’s wonderful that it happened. It has quickly demonstrated who are in charge of football (and rightly so)… in case you are wondering: the fans! And yes, royalty, politicians and ex-players are also fans…

And if it also leads to the demise of eh certain Mr Woodward who has been mismanaging Manchester United for years now, being their Technical Director without having any football understanding and cultural context understanding… Good riddance!

Yes, there will be changes in the future, but never a concept in which teams have to leave their domestic competition for a money based super -league. We like seeing Liverpool – AC Milan, but we adore watching Liverpool – Everton. Or Ajax – FC Utrecht. Or Barca – Espagnol. These derbies should never die.

We will also always demand a structure in which teams that earn it can move up, and teams that fail get relegated. That is what sports is about.

Some of the clubs that did commit quickly backtracked their way out of it. Chelsea, Man City, United and Liverpool were quick to apologise, with City coach Guardiola and Liverpool coach and captain vehemently criticising this move. In earlier stages, Bayern Munich, PSG and Ajax already said they wouldn’t want to join in.

The whole air castle collapsed before it was actually made and I hope we can put this cockamamy idea to rest for good.

The sad death this week was the passing of PSV and Oranje legend Willy van der Kuylen. The PSV playmaker from the 1970s. A midfielder, a classic #10, but also one who would easily score 20 goals every season. A true class act.

The Brabant born player with the canon in both legs had ample opportunities to play in Italy or Spain but preferred to stay in Brabant forever, close to his beloved PSV. After his active career, he would stick with PSV in all sorts of roles. He’d become Mr PSV and was assistant coach, scout, team leader, analyst, strikers coach, ambassador and PSV’s photo model whenever a new player was signed. One of the few players to hit a penalty kick with full force with the laces. One of the few players who actually kicked a ball (a free kick) straight through the net. Literally.

He started his career as central striker and netted prolifically but in those days in the mid 60s, it was all Ajax and Feyenoord. Willy was as good as they come, but the rest of PSV wasn’t. Yet.

He had vision, was shrewd, saw the pass and had a strong physique. But his biggest weapon, his shot. And he was perfectly two-footed. And he could hit them with real power. Cruyff and Van Hanegem often spoke about his ability to hit a ball in awe. The next player to impress with both feet would be Wesley Sneijder. Willy would score 308 goals for PSV, in 528 matches. Not bad for a midfielder!

He only played 22 matches for Oranje (scoring 7 goals). That is truly a disgrace. His PSV was the key team in Holland in 1974 and Willy was the top scorer again that season. But Willy van der Kuijlen (and Jan van Beveren) would not join Oranje to West Germany’s World Cup. The core of Oranje consisted of Ajax and Feyenoord players. Cruyff, Keizer, Van Hanegem and Israel were boss. The PSV players were seen as inferior and both Willy and goalie van Beveren were disgusted by their cameo roles and decided to leave the camp. Despite this, Van der Kuijlen never blamed Cruyff and never openly discussed this situation in a negative way. He would simply say that Johan Cruyff was the best ever and there are times when the best players don’t necessarily make the best team.

And don’t forget, this is a time where the NT coach had Cruyff, Neeskens, Krol, Van Hanegem, Wim Jansen, Jan Mulder, Rob Rensenbrink, Van der Kuijlen, Rep, Piet Keizer and Sjaak Swart. Out of these 12, only 6 could play. Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Van der Kuijlen could have made a unique trio, but it was not to be. They would hang out together, go to carnival with the wives and respect one another but they would never play together. JC would later name Van der Kuijlen in his “Team of the Century” in 1999.

In 1978, they played against each other in the semi finals of the UEFA Cup. Both skippers shaking, Willy for PSV, JC for Barca. PSV won that match and would go on to win the title.

Players like Luc Nilis and Ruud van Nistelrooy still rave about the personal coaching they got from the legend, who would be gifted a job for life, by then PSV technical director Marcel Brands. PSV would financially take care of Willy until his death. Alzheimer’s stopped Mr PSV, where hundreds of defenders and goalies couldn’t…

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