Holland / Nederland / Netherlands
- Capital: Amsterdam
- Official Languages: Dutch
- Co-official Languages: English, Papiamento, West Frisian
- Recognised Languages: Dutch Low Saxon, Limburgish, Sinte Romani, Yiddish
- Nicknames: Oranje; Holland; The Flying Dutchmen; Leeuwinnen (Lionesses)
- Association: Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond (KNVB)
- FIFA Code: NED
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Finalists (1974, 1978 & 2010)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Finalists (2019)
- Best Euros Result (Men): WINNERS (1988)
- Best Euros Result (Women): WINNERS (2017)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 1st (August 2011)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 3rd (July 2019)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 36th (August 2017)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 20th (June 2008)
- Most Capped Player: Sherida Spitse – 184 caps [as of April 2021]
- Top Scorer: Vivianne Miedema – 71 goals [as of April 2021]
The Netherlands (Nederland) are one of the most iconic of international sides within world football, with their distinctive and recognisable orange home shirt colour originating from the colours of their monarchy, the House of Orange-Nassau. Situated in the northwestern corner of the European continent, they have a southern land border with Belgium, a long eastern border with traditional footballing rivals Germany, and are separated from England, to its west, by the southern part of the North Sea. Due to its close proximity to England, it became one of the first countries on the European mainland to play and formally adopt football, with records of football clubs being established in the country as early as 1879. The KNVB was founded as early as 1889 making it one of the oldest FAs outside of Britain, and became one of the founding members of FIFA in 1904.
The history of Dutch football is somewhat underwhelming in the early years, with just two World Cup appearances in 1934 and 1938. It wouldn’t be until the late 1960s onwards when Dutch football exploded onto the world stage, with an incredible generation of players coming through at once, especially at Feyenoord and Ajax who won the UEFA European Cup between 1970 and 1974. Adopting the playing philosophy of Total Football / Totaalvoetbal under pioneering manager Rinus Michels, and inspired by the magical Johan Cruyff (one of the best players ever to play the game), they would reach two consecutive World Cup finals in both 1974 and 1978. Alas for the entertaining and mesmerising Oranje, they failed to lift the big trophy on both occasions, losing to the hosts West Germany and Argentina respectively. They would subsequently reach another final in 2010, but would lose to Spain on that occasion, whilst reaching the semi-finals in both the 1998 and 2014 editions.
The Netherlands have continuously produced world-class talent since the 1970s, and are highly regarded as one of the strongest nations within world football. Many of the world’s biggest and best clubs have been or are graced with talented Dutch players within their starting XIs. Alas for all of their incredible players throughout the decades, the men’s side only have one trophy to show for their efforts – the 1988 European Championships, which was won on West German soil (making the victory even sweeter no doubt) by beating the last great Soviet Union side 2-0 in Munich.
The women’s Dutch side are also starting to make waves in international football, and are regarded as one of the best sides in women’s international football right now. The Leeuwinnen are the defending European champions having surprisingly won the 2017 European Championships on home soil, beating Denmark 4-2 in Enschede, meaning that both the men and women’s team have been crowned European champions. Alas the women’s Oranje team seem to have the same luck as their male equivalents when it comes to the World Cup. In the 2019 World Cup, they fought their way to the final of the competition, defeating such sides like Japan, Italy and Sweden to get there. Alas they too would suffer final defeat, losing 2-0 to the dominant United States team, meaning the Netherlands have reached four World Cup finals without ever lifting the ultimate prize.
With the continuous world class talent that the country produces in both the men’s and women’s game, surely it’s a matter of “WHEN” rather than “IF” the Dutch will finally lift the biggest trophy in international football, and be crowned as deserved World Champions…
Talking about one of the most talented and iconic teams within international football is the excellent Dutch football website Clockwork Oranje. Founded and edited by Finley Crebolder, it is a website and podcast all about the Oranje where readers/listeners can “relive the past, keep up with the present and look forward to the future of the Dutch national team“. To find their social media accounts, website, and podcast, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @ClockworkOranje
- Website: http://clockworkoranje.com/
- Podcast: Apple Podcasts
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clockworkoranje/
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Our best player ever is without a doubt Johan Cruyff. He was one of the most skilled and talented players ever, a real leader and changed Dutch football for the better on and off the pitch.
Our best manager ever is the man that, together with Cruyff, created our famous ‘total football’, Rinus Michel. Not only was he in charge of our best side ever, the class of 1974, but also led us to our only ever trophy [the European Championships] in 1988.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
For me, the first man that comes to mind is Dirk Kuyt. He wasn’t stylish like most famous Dutch attackers, and didn’t have as much talent as others, but you’ll struggle to find a Dutchman who doesn’t love him for his work rate and attitude.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from the Netherlands currently?
The best Dutch player in the world right now is Virgil van Dijk, maybe the best defender in the world. The only person I could see taking that title from him anytime soon is Frenkie de Jong if he really starts to excel for Barcelona.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
Under Ronald Koeman we looked great, qualifying for the Euros and beating France, Germany and England in the UEFA Nations League. However, he unfortunately left for Barcelona and Frank de Boer replaced him, and he’s made a mixed start to say the least.
We have looked good under him at times, but there have been concerning performances and results too. We have the players to succeed, but maybe not the manager.
Q. Are there any Dutch players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
There are loads of exciting Dutch players coming through at the moment, but the one I’m most excited about is Ryan Gravenberch. He’s the complete midfielder, has been excellent for Ajax this season and recently made his debut for the national team. He has everything needed to become one of the best players in the world.
Q. Looking at the Netherlands’ illustrious international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
When I think of great Oranje performances, my mind goes to the 2-0 win against Brazil in 1974. The Dutch national team had never enjoyed success at that point, so knocking out the reigning World Champions while playing really beautiful football to reach a World Cup final was huge.
Maybe the most popular for the fans though is the 2-1 win against West Germany in the Euro 1988 semi-final. Given the rivalry and the fact that we avenged the 1974 World Cup final defeat, it’s perhaps more loved than the final against the USSR.
In more recent times, the wins against France and Italy in Euro 2008, the 2-1 victory against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, and the 5-1 thrashing of Spain in the 2014 World Cup group stage are the best.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
The most painful defeat ever has to be the 2010 World Cup final 1-0 loss against Spain. Not only did we lose our third World Cup final with just four minutes of extra time remaining, but we also turned our backs on the style of football we had been renowned for, playing dirty instead, and all for nothing.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Dutch national team?
The best thing about supporting Oranje is the fact that we constantly produce top players, play great football and perform far better than a nation of our size would be expected to.
The worst thing is the fact that we lose so many important matches. To be precise, we’ve lost three finals and six semi-finals at major tournaments. It’s nice to get that far, but it makes it all the more painful to lose.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
The most famous song amongst the fans is an old one called “Hup Holland Hup“, which tells the lion (our mascot) not to put his slippers on but instead to put football boots on and rule the world.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
The most iconic Netherlands shirt is undoubtedly the 1988 one, which is considered one of the greatest kits ever. My personal favourite though is the 2010 kit, as watching us reach the final was one of the great memories of my childhood, so it has a lot of personal meaning to me. I remember being 12 and rushing home from school to watch us beat Brazil like it was yesterday!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Dutch national team?
I’m optimistic. We have a lot of players who are already great and will remain world class for years to come, and have really exciting youngsters coming through the ranks. Euro 2020 will come too soon I think, but with the right manager, I think we could have a great chance of finally winning a World Cup in 2022.
A massive dank u zeer to Clockwork Oranje for answering our questions on the Oranje. Remember you can find their social media accounts, website and podcast in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at email@example.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.