Cruyff, Van Basten, Gullit, Bergkamp: Who is the greatest Dutch player of all-time?

The Netherlands has long been one of football’s finest talent factories.

We don’t know what they’re putting in the water across the tiny nation of 17 million people but they just seem to pump out world leading stars in every era of football.

From the total football era of Johan Cruyff, to the stunning European Championship winning team of 1988, to a plethora of elite 21st century talent pioneered most recently by Virgil van Dijk, this nation knows no bounds when it comes to mastering the art of football.

The sheer amount of legends is quite extraordinary, but it does beg the question – who is GOAT of the Dutch?

Well, FourFourTwo have dived headfirst into solving that issue, as they rank the 10 greatest Netherlands players of all-time.

The 10 finest Netherlands players to ever do it

10. Robin van Persie

A goal machine of the highest order, it’s no surprise that RVP is the Netherlands’ all-time top goalscorer with his tally of 50 in 102 caps.

He also took part in four World Cups and two European Championships demonstrating his impressive longevity at the top.

Of course, at club level he won the Premier League Golden Boot award twice and even lifted the English title after controversially trading Arsenal for Manchester United.

Robin van Persie Netherlands
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – OCTOBER 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands misses a chance during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

9. Edwin van der Sar

A Manchester United hero, Van der Sar was one of the most reliable shot stoppers football has ever witnessed.

He enjoyed a 21-year long international career and his 130 appearances for the national team makes him the Netherlands’ second most capped player ever.

Van der Sar was also a raving success outside of international football, winning the Champions League with both Ajax and United, as well as lifting the Premier League on four occasions under Sir Alex Ferguson.

8. Arjen Robben

The dynamic winger probably still gives many left-backs nightmares to this day, he was such a formidable foe.

His ability to beat a man, chop in on his left-foot and let loose a vicious strike on goal will always be iconic. It didn’t matter that his opponent knew it was coming, the guy was unplayable in his prime.

Robben won 20 trophies at Bayern, as well as numerous other major honours with PSV, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

For years he was the key dangerman for the Oranje and was instrumental in every success they experienced at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.

Arjen Robben Netherlands
FORTALEZA, BRAZIL – JUNE 29: Arjen Robben of the Netherlands celebrates after defeating Mexico 2-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao on June 29, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

7. Frank Rijkaard

Rijkaard was one of a trio of mesmering Dutch players that spearheaded Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan team of the late 80’s and early 90’s.

The Rossoneri experienced incredible success with Rijkaard at the heart of their midfield, even winning back-to-back European Cups.

With the national team, he was a key member in the 1988 European Championship winning squad, even earning himself a place in the official Team of the Tournament.

6. Johan Neeskens

One of the first box-to-box midfielders of his kind, Neeskens played for the Netherlands in the 1970’s and scored the opening goal in 1974 World Cup final that they eventually lost to West Germany.

He would feel heartbreak again just four years later, this time losing to the hosts Argentina in the final.

Fortunately, Neeskens didn’t have the same luck at club level, winning three back-to-back European Champions Cups from 1971-1973.

5. Dennis Bergkamp

Another Premier League legend that makes the list, Thierry Henry famously branded Bergkamp the best player he ever played with.

Which is some compliment when you consider the fact that Henry spent a couple of years alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Of course, Bergkamp is also an invincible and a three time Premier League champion.

As well as a certified wizard if we’re dishing out all the accolades.

Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf for Netherlands
31 Mar 1999: Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Berkamp, Marc Overmars and Phillip Cocu line up for Holland before the International Friendly against Argentina at the Amsterdam ArenA in Holland. \ Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster /Allsport

4. Ronald Koeman

Supremely talented whether playing as a centre-back or a holding midfielder, Koeman won countless honours in his career and scored no less than 239 goals despite his defensively biased duties.

He won the European Cup with PSV and Barcelona, lifted four La Liga titles and was another essential ingredient in the nation’s 1988 European Championship triumph.

A justified fourth placed pick.

3. Ruud Gullit

Speaking of the European Championship victory, Gullit was the captain of that majestic team and remains to this day the only Dutch captain to lift a major honour.

Setting aside his international bragging rights, Gullit was crowned the best player in the world in 1987 as he gladly received the Ballon d’Or, the crowing moment of a club career that also boats three Scudetto’s and two Champions League titles.

Ruud Gullit Netherlands
Ruud Gullit

2. Marco van Basten

One of only three players to have won the coveted Ballon d’Or title on more than two occasions, it’s mind-blowing when you consider that Van Basten was cruelly forced to retire at the age of 28.

In just a decade worth of professional football, the legendary striker also won three European Cups, 11 domestic trophies and a single European Championship – simply magnificent.

And let’s not forget that ludicrous volley he scored in the 1988 final against the Soviet Union, it might even be the best goal ever…

  1. Johan Cruyff

There could only be one true Dutch master.

Cruyff was a revolutionary, dreaming up the ‘total football’ concept in the early 70’s and executing it to perfection throughout his career.

He won no less than nine Dutch first-division titles and six Dutch cups.

Outside of his home nation, he might just be the most important person in Barcelona’s history after moulding the club to his playing philosophy, something they have never wavered from since.

Like Van Basten after him, Cruyff was also awarded three Ballon d’Or. However, the influence of Cruyff was felt far beyond his playing career.

What a legacy.

Frenkie de Jong AGREES TERMS (The Football Terrace)

End of season quiz

1 of 20
Senegal were crowned Africa Cup of Nations champions in February

Senegal beat which team in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final?

News Now - Sport News