Premier League: Top five Dutch stars

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Over the years the great footballing nation of Holland has delivered some of the finest footballers in the history of the sport.

Names such as Marco van Basten, Johan Cruyff and Clarence Seedorf all stand out as true greats of the game.

Unfortunately for English football fans the names mentioned above never graced the pitches of Britain with their mesmerising quality and skill.

But we have been lucky enough to watch certain individuals, from the home of "Total Football", ply their trade up and down the British mainland. Here are my picks for the top five "Oranje" players in Premier League history...

5. Arjen Robben

When Chelsea won their first league title in 50 years in 2004 during a certain Portuguese managers first season at the helm, it was a newly assembled squad bankrolled with the millions of their new Russian Tsar, Roman Abramovich.

Many of those newly acquired superstars performed week in week out to wrestle the Premier League crown from Manchester United. One of those men was a lightning quick winger who Chelsea had purchased from PSV Eindhoven by the name of Robben.

His unbelievable acceleration and dribbling skills were a full backs nightmare. Although quite injury prone, whenever he set foot on the pitch he had the power to change games and score memorable solo goals. In his three seasons at Stamford Bridge he won one Community Shield, one FA Cup, two League Cups and two Premier League titles.

4. Ruud Gullit

Although the Amsterdam born Gullit's best years of football were behind him at the time, he always stated that he enjoyed his playing time in England above everywhere else he kicked a ball during his illustrious career.

The dread locked giant played for some of the biggest clubs in his home country and indeed the world. In Holland his CV holds Dutch footballing powerhouses such as Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven with AC Milan and Sampdoria in Italy making up his resume.

He joined Glenn Hoddle's Chelsea in July 1995 on a free transfer and the Stamford Bridge faithful couldn't believe their luck. The former Ballon d'Or, and 2-time Dutch player of the year was initially brought into the team as a sweeper but was quickly moved to the middle of the park where his immaculate ball control and inch perfect passing was utilised to the max.

Although only winning one piece of silverware during his time in west London, while player/manager of the 97 FA Cup winning side, he makes my list because of his undoubted world class talent which was a joy to behold.

3. Ruud van Nistelrooy

One of Sir Alex Ferguson's best buys, Van Nistelrooy was the complete "Fox in the box". His technique, placement of a ball and his uncanny ability to get the ball over the goal line made him one of the most feared strikers of the Premier League generation.

Starting his career in the Dutch second division with Den Bosch, where he was converted from central midfield to forward, he quickly made a name for himself scoring 12 goals in 31 games in the 96/97 season, which prompted Heerenveen to shell out 300,00 euro for his signature.

But it was his record 6.3m signing to PSV Eindhoven the following year, the then largest transfer fee between two Dutch clubs, that announced his arrival to the big time.

His first two seasons as an Eindhoven player ended with two Dutch golden boots. In April 2001 The Red Devils spent a handsome 19m pounds to take him to Old Trafford where over the course of five seasons he went on to score 150 goals in 220 appearances becoming a fans favourite along the way.

It's stats like that which propelled him to the number three spot on my list, and quite frankly I think it would be "Ruud" not to include him.. sorry.

2. Edwin van der Sar

"He's been absolutely fantastic with his training, his performances, his attitude in the changing room and he's an example to all young players." These were the words of Sir Alex Ferguson after Van der Sar revealed he was retiring at the end of the 2010/11 season.

It was hard to fault any part of his game. He was quick on his feet but even quicker in the air. His decision making was excellent and his shot stopping and reactions were out of this world.

Standing at a colossal 6ft 5.5 inches tall, he filled his goal frame with a terrifying confidence with which most strikers could only concur. After starting out with VV Noorwijk, he was signed by Ajax who were under the supervision of Lois van Gaal.

He went on to win the 1991/92 Uefa Cup and later in 1994/95 the top prize in European football, the UEFA Champions League, along with European Goalkeeper of the year. He made a total of 226 appearances for Ajax with 4 consecutive Dutch goalkeeper of the year awards before joining Juventus in 1999.

Eventually losing his place to arguably the best goalkeeper in the world Gianluigi Buffon, he signed a four year contract with Fulham in August 2001. After 127 games in a Fulham shirt he made the biggest step of his career and left for Manchester United in the summer of 2005 where he played his best games and showed the world why he is now regarded one of the worlds greatest ever Dutch men to stand between the sticks.

1. Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp was quoted by Jan Mulder as having "the finest technique" any dutch footballer has ever possessed.

And I'm very confident that if you ask any Arsenal Football club supporter they would happily inform you of the kind of high regard he is held at The Emirates by pointing to his statue outside the stadium.

He is Amsterdam through and through, it runs in his veins. A boyhood Ajax fan who went on to become an Ajax player, manager and legend shows his desire and commitment towards his hometown club.

Brought through the famous ajax youth system he was given his professional debut by the great of all Dutch greats, Johan Cruyff in 1986. In his seven years as an Ajax player he lifted five trophies along with numerous personal accolades.

He made a big money move to FC Internazionale for £7m but success never followed and they finished 13th in his first season in Serie A, one point above relegation.

After two mediocre seasons at Inter, Bruce Rioch and Arsenal brought him to England and that move turned out to be one of the greatest signings in English football history.

Apart from his technique, Bergkamp had it all. The first touch of a god, bullet like shot and the ability to pick out his team mates that would leave you speechless. To this day his goals are just beautiful to watch, a certain touch of genius against Newcastle United quite possibly his best. It's players like Dennis that have made our league the best in the world.

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Ruud Gullit
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