The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from Netherlands

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This page contains a list of the greatest Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,880 Soccer Players, 328 of which were born in Netherlands. This makes Netherlands the birth place of the 9th most number of Soccer Players behind Italy and Argentina.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Soccer Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Soccer Players.

Photo of Johan Cruyff

1. Johan Cruyff (1947 - 2016)

With an HPI of 78.85, Johan Cruyff is the most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 96 different languages on wikipedia.

Hendrik Johannes Cruijff (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (listen), internationally known as Johan Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and manager. As a player, he won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974. Cruyff was a proponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, as well as one of its best managers ever. He is also considered to be one of the most influential figures in modern football.In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from a semi-professional and obscure level to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. After finishing third in UEFA Euro 1976, Cruyff refused to play in the 1978 FIFA World Cup after a kidnapping attempt targeting him and his family in their Barcelona home dissuaded him from football. At club level, Cruyff started his career at Ajax, where he won eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup. In 1973, he moved to Barcelona for a world record transfer fee, helping the team win La Liga in his first season and winning the Ballon d'Or. After retiring from playing in 1984, Cruyff became highly successful as manager of Ajax and later Barcelona; he remained an influential advisor to both clubs after his coaching tenures. His son Jordi also played football professionally for Barcelona. In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third in a vote organised by the French magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century. He was included in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Photo of Ruud Gullit

2. Ruud Gullit (1962 - )

With an HPI of 66.17, Ruud Gullit is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Ruud Gullit (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈryt ˈxʏlɪt] (listen); born Rudi Dil; 1 September 1962) is a Dutch footballer and subsequent manager who played professionally in the 1980s and 1990s as a defender, midfielder or forward. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He captained the Netherlands national team that was victorious at UEFA Euro 1988 and was also a member of the squad for the 1990 FIFA World Cup and Euro 1992. At club level, in 1987 he moved from PSV to AC Milan for a world record transfer fee. Nicknamed "the black Tulip", he was part of a notable Dutch trio at Milan which included Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. Gullit won three Serie A titles and two European Cups with Milan. In 1995, he signed for Chelsea and a year later was appointed the club's player-manager. In his debut season, he led Chelsea to FA Cup success, the club's first major title for 26 years, and in doing so became the first overseas manager to win the FA Cup. Gullit won the Ballon d'Or in 1987 and was named the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989. Normally an attacking midfielder, he was a versatile player, playing in numerous positions during his career. In 2004, he was named one of the Top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebration.

Photo of Leo Beenhakker

3. Leo Beenhakker (1942 - )

With an HPI of 63.16, Leo Beenhakker is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Leo Beenhakker CM (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈleːjoː ˈbeːnɦɑkər]; born 2 August 1942) is a Dutch international football coach. He has had an extensive and successful career both at club and international level. He led both Ajax and Feyenoord to Dutch championships and also had domestic success with Real Madrid. At international level, he led Trinidad and Tobago to the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Poland to UEFA Euro 2008, both firsts for each nation. His role in Spanish football has earned him the nickname Don Leo, largely due to his fondness of cigars and dry humour.

Photo of Rob Rensenbrink

4. Rob Rensenbrink (1947 - 2020)

With an HPI of 63.14, Rob Rensenbrink is the 4th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Rob Rensenbrink (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈrɔp ˈrɛnsə(m)ˌbrɪŋk]; 3 July 1947 – 24 January 2020) was a Dutch footballer and member of the Netherlands national team that reached two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. A creative and prolific left winger or forward, he became a legend in Belgium whilst playing in the great Anderlecht side of the 1970s. He is the UEFA Cup Winners Cup's all-time top scorer, with 25 goals. A talented dribbler as well as a cool finisher and adequate passer, he only ever missed two penalties in his entire career. He was also the first winner of the Onze d'Or.

Photo of Edwin van der Sar

5. Edwin van der Sar (1970 - )

With an HPI of 61.72, Edwin van der Sar is the 5th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.

Edwin van der Sar (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɛtʋɪɱ vɑn dər ˈsɑr] (listen); born 29 October 1970) is a Dutch football executive and former professional player who is currently the chief executive of AFC Ajax, with whom he began his senior playing career in the early 1990s; he is considered to be a member of the club's golden generation and was part of the Ajax team that won the UEFA Champions League in 1995. A goalkeeper, he left Ajax for Juventus in 1999, where he spent two years before moving to England, first to Fulham and then to Manchester United in 2005. There he won a second Champions League title in 2008, making him one of just eight players at the time to have won the competition with more than one club. He retired as a professional in 2011, but briefly came out of retirement in 2016 to play a match for Dutch amateur team VV Noordwijk, for whom he had previously played as a youth. He played 130 times for the Netherlands national team, and was the nation's most-capped player until 2017, when he was overtaken by Wesley Sneijder. Van der Sar is considered by critics and fellow players as one of the best goalkeepers of all time. He is also one of the most successful footballers ever, having won 26 major trophies in his career, mainly at Ajax and Manchester United. During the 2008–09 season, he set a world record by not conceding a league goal for 1,311 minutes. He is also the oldest player to win the Premier League, having done so in 2011 at the age of 40 years and 205 days. Van der Sar has won several individual awards, including Best European Goalkeeper in 1995 and 2009, and UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009.

Photo of Dennis Bergkamp

6. Dennis Bergkamp (1969 - )

With an HPI of 61.23, Dennis Bergkamp is the 6th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdɛnəz ˈbɛr(ə)xkɑmp] (listen); born 10 May 1969) is a Dutch professional football coach and former player. Originally a wide midfielder, Bergkamp was moved to main striker and then to second striker, where he remained throughout his playing career. Nicknamed the "Non-Flying Dutchman" by Arsenal supporters due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, and one of Ajax's and Arsenal's greatest ever players. The son of an electrician, Bergkamp was born in Amsterdam and played as an amateur in the lower leagues. He was spotted by Ajax at age 11 and made his professional debut in 1986. Prolific form led to an international call-up with the Netherlands a year later, attracting the attention of several European clubs. Bergkamp signed for Italian club Inter Milan in 1993, where he had two underwhelming seasons. After joining Arsenal in 1995, he rejuvenated his career, helping the club to win three Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies, and reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final, which marked his last appearance as a player. Despite noting a desire to not go into coaching, Bergkamp served as an assistant at Ajax between 2011 and 2017. With the Netherlands national team, Bergkamp was selected for Euro 1992, where he impressed, scoring three goals as his country reached the semi-finals. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he scored a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina which has been regarded as one of the greatest FIFA World Cup goals. Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top scorer of all time in 1998, a record later eclipsed by Patrick Kluivert, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Robin van Persie. Bergkamp has been described by Jan Mulder as having "the finest technique" of any Dutch international and a "dream for a striker" by teammate Thierry Henry. Bergkamp finished third twice in the FIFA World Player of the Year award and was selected by Pelé as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players. In 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, the first and only Dutch player ever to receive the honour. Bergkamp was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2021. In 2017, Bergkamp's goal against Newcastle United in 2002 was voted as the best Premier League goal of all-time in the league's 25-year history, involving a flick around Newcastle defender Nikos Dabizas before calmly tapping the ball into the net.

Photo of Wim Jansen

7. Wim Jansen (1946 - 2022)

With an HPI of 60.99, Wim Jansen is the 7th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Wilhelmus Marinus Antonius Jansen ([ʋɪmˈjɑn.sə(n)]; 28 October 1946 – 25 January 2022) was a Dutch professional football player and manager. As a midfielder or defender, he spent most of his career at Feyenoord, winning honours including the European Cup in 1970. He earned 65 international caps with the Dutch national team and played in the teams that reached the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cup finals. Jansen served in several roles at Feyenoord, including winning the KNVB Cup in consecutive seasons as manager in the early 1990s. He also won the Scottish Premier Division at Celtic in 1997–98.

Photo of Ruud Krol

8. Ruud Krol (1949 - )

With an HPI of 60.76, Ruud Krol is the 8th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Rudolf ("Ruud" or "Rudi") Jozef Krol (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkrɔl]; born 24 March 1949) is a Dutch former professional footballer who was capped 83 times for the Netherlands national team. Most of his career he played for his home town club, Ajax, and he became a coach after retirement. Regarded as one of the best defenders of all time, Krol mainly played as a sweeper or left-back, however he could play anywhere across the back line, or in midfield as a defensive midfielder, due to his range of passing with both feet, temperament, tactical intelligence, and ability to start attacking plays after winning back the ball.

Photo of Arie Haan

9. Arie Haan (1948 - )

With an HPI of 60.17, Arie Haan is the 9th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Arend "Arie" Haan (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌaːrɛnt / ˈaːri) ˈɦaːn]; born 16 November 1948) is a Dutch football manager and former player who played as a midfielder. He scored 6 goals in 35 matches for the Netherlands national team of the 1970s. At club level, he enjoyed a successful career with AFC Ajax, R.S.C. Anderlecht, Standard Liège and PSV Eindhoven. He participated in seven finals of European club competitions with five victories and two defeats. He was also known for his goals from long distance. At international level, he played 35 times for the Netherlands national team and was on the losing side for them in two World Cup finals. After retiring as a player, he managed numerous club sides in Europe and China, as well as the national teams of China, Cameroon and Albania.

Photo of Piet Keizer

10. Piet Keizer (1943 - 2017)

With an HPI of 59.62, Piet Keizer is the 10th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Petrus Johannes "Piet" Keizer (14 June 1943 – 10 February 2017) was a Dutch professional footballer who played as a left winger. As part of the "Total Football" Ajax Amsterdam team of the 1960s and 1970s, Keizer was particularly notable during the successive managerial tenures of Rinus Michels and Stefan Kovacs (1965–1973). He is widely considered one of the greatest players in Dutch football history. Dutch writer Nico Scheepmaker once said: "Cruyff is the best, but Keizer is the better one".

Pantheon has 387 people classified as soccer players born between 1873 and 2003. Of these 387, 354 (91.47%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Ruud Gullit, Leo Beenhakker, and Edwin van der Sar. The most famous deceased soccer players include Johan Cruyff, Rob Rensenbrink, and Wim Jansen. As of April 2022, 59 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Barry Hulshoff, Adri van Male, and Eddy Pieters Graafland.

Living Soccer Players

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Deceased Soccer Players

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Newly Added Soccer Players (2022)

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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.