The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Dutch Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Dutch 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 Dutch Soccer Players.
With an HPI of 83.61, Johan Cruyff is the most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 94 different languages on wikipedia.
Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (listen), internationally spelled 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, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, as well as one of its best managers ever.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. At the 1974 finals, he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the "Cruyff Turn", a move widely replicated in the modern game. After finishing third in UEFA Euro 1976, Cruyff refused to play in the 1978 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 was named European Footballer of the Year. 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. Wearing the number 14 jersey since 1970 (except at Barcelona and Feyenoord where he was assigned number 9 and 10 respectively), Cruyff set a trend for players to, if allowed, choose a jersey number outside the usual starting line-up of one to eleven. 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.Considered to be one of the most influential figures in football history, Cruyff's style of play and football philosophy has influenced managers and players alike. Ajax and Barcelona are among the clubs that have developed youth academies based on Cruyff's coaching methods. His coaching philosophy helped lay the foundations for the revival of Ajax's international successes in the 1990s, and Spanish football's successes at both club and international levels during the years 2008 to 2012 have been cited as evidence of Cruyff's impact on contemporary football. And in Johan Neeskens's own words, "If you look at the greatest players in history, most of them couldn't coach. If you look at the greatest coaches in history, most of them were not great players. Johan Cruyff did both – and in such an exhilarating style."
With an HPI of 74.63, Ruud Gullit is the 2nd most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 62 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, attacking midfielder, 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 so doing 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.
With an HPI of 72.65, Rob Rensenbrink is the 3rd most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 38 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.
With an HPI of 71.57, Leo Beenhakker is the 4th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 33 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.
With an HPI of 70.43, Edwin van der Sar is the 5th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Edwin van der Sar OON (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.
With an HPI of 69.52, Ruud Krol is the 6th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 33 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.
With an HPI of 69.47, Dennis Bergkamp is the 7th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 62 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 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.
With an HPI of 69.35, Piet Keizer is the 8th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 34 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".
With an HPI of 69.08, Arie Haan is the 9th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 30 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 Dutch 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 Dutch 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.
With an HPI of 69.06, Arjen Robben is the 10th most famous Dutch Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 86 different languages.
Arjen Robben (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑrjən ˈrɔbə(n)] (listen); born 23 January 1984) is a Dutch former professional footballer who played as a winger. He is known for his dribbling skills, speed, ball control, and his long-range shots. Robben is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and one of the best wingers in the world in his prime. Robben first came to prominence with Groningen, for whom he was player of the year for the 2000–01 Eredivisie season. Two years later he signed for PSV, where he became the Netherlands' Young Player of the Year and won an Eredivisie title. The following season Robben's signature was pursued by leading clubs, and after protracted transfer negotiations, he joined Chelsea in 2004. Robben's Chelsea debut was delayed through injury, but upon returning to fitness, he helped Chelsea bring home two consecutive Premier League titles, and was the Premier League Player of the Month in November 2005. After a third season in England which was punctuated by injury, Robben signed for Real Madrid in a transfer worth €35 million. In August 2009, Robben transferred to Bayern Munich for a fee of around €25 million. In his first season in Munich, Bayern won the league title, Robben's fifth league title in eight years. Robben scored the winning goal in the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final, being named to the Squad of the Season. In 2014, he was named to the FIFPro World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year, and fourth place in the Ballon d'Or. In Germany, he won 20 trophies, including eight Bundesliga titles and five DFB Pokals. During his long spell at Bayern, Robben was also known for his fruitful partnership with fellow winger Franck Ribéry – together they were affectionately referred to by the nickname Robbery.Robben started in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, which the Netherlands lost to Spain. He has appeared at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Championships, and the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. In the latter, he won the Bronze Ball and was named to the All-Star Team. On 15 July 2021, Robben announced his retirement from professional football.
Pantheon has 329 people classified as soccer players born between 1873 and 2002. Of these 329, 306 (93.01%) 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 Piet Keizer. As of October 2020, 64 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Dick van Dijk, Gerrie Mühren, and Willy van der Kuijlen.
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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 23 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.