Robin van Persie (50)
Oranje Holland Clockwork Orange The Flying Dutchmen
Edwin van der Sar (130)
Amsterdam ArenA (53,502) Philips Stadion (35,000) Stadion Feijenoord (51,117)
Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB)
De Kuip, Amsterdam Arena, Philips Stadion
The Netherlands national football team (Dutch: Het Nederlands Elftal) represents the Netherlands in international football. It is controlled by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), the governing body for football in the Netherlands.
- Total Football in the 1970s
- Failure 198286
- European champions
- Contrasting fortunes 1996
- Current squad
- Recent call ups
- Results and fixtures
- Top scorers
- Other Tournaments
The team is colloquially referred to as Het Nederlands Elftal (The Dutch Eleven) and Oranje, after the House of Orange-Nassau. Like the country itself, the team is sometimes incorrectly (also colloquially) referred to as Holland.
The Dutch hold the record for playing the most World Cup finals without ever winning the tournament. They finished second in the 1974, 1978 and 2010 World Cups, losing to West Germany, Argentina and Spain respectively; although they won the UEFA European Championship in 1988.
The Netherlands played their first international match in Antwerp against Belgium on 30 April 1905. The players were selected by a five-member commission from the Dutch football association. After 90 minutes, the score was 1–1, but because the match was for a trophy (the "Coupe van den Abeele"), the game went into extra time, in which Eddy de Neve scored three times, making the score 4–1 for the Dutch side.
The Netherlands made their first appearance at the World Cup final tournament in 1934. After a second appearance in 1938 they did not appear in another World Cup until 1974.
Total Football in the 1970s
The 1970s saw the invention of Total Football (Dutch: Totaalvoetbal), pioneered by Ajax and led by playmaker Johan Cruyff and national team coach Rinus Michels. The Dutch made significant strides, qualifying for two World Cup finals in the decade. The captain of the Brazilian team that won the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Carlos Alberto, went on to say, "The only team I've seen that did things differently was Holland at the 1974 World Cup in Germany. Since then everything looks more or less the same to me.... Their 'carousel' style of play was amazing to watch and marvellous for the game."
In 1974, the Netherlands beat both Brazil and Argentina in the second group stage, reaching the final for the first time in their history. However, the team lost to West Germany in the final in Munich, despite having gone 1–0 up through Johan Neeskens' early penalty kick before a German had even touched the ball. However, a converted penalty by Paul Breitner and the winner from Gerd Müller led to a victory for the Germans.
By comparison, Euro '76 was a disappointment. The Netherlands lost in the semi-finals to Czechoslovakia, as much because of infighting within the squad and the coach George Knobel, as well as the skill of the eventual winners.
In 1978, the Netherlands again reached the final of a World Cup, only to be beaten by the hosts, this time Argentina. This side played without Johan Cruijff, Willem van Hanegem, and Jan van Beveren, who refused to participate in the World Cup. It still contained Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Arie Haan, Ruud Krol, Wim Jansen, Jan Jongbloed, Wim Suurbier and Rob Rensenbrink from the 1974 selection. The Netherlands were less impressive in the group stages. They qualified as runners-up, after a draw with Peru and a loss to Scotland. In the second group phase, however, the Netherlands topped a group including Italy and West Germany, setting up a final with Argentina. However, the Dutch finished as runners up for the second World Cup in a row as they ultimately lost 3–1 after two extra time goals from Argentina. Rensenbrink hit the Argentinian post in the last minute of normal time, with the score 1–1.
Euro '80 was the last tournament for which the Total Football team qualified, but they did not advance past the group stage, despite the tournament format being expanded that year. Veterans such as Krol and Rensenbrink retired soon afterwards and the Dutch team hit a low point in their history: they missed the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Euro '84 in France, and the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Qualification for Euro 1984 was within reach, but the Dutch ended the campaign on the same number of points as rivals Spain, and the same goal difference (+16). Spain advanced having scored two more goals. The failure to reach the 1986 World Cup was also very close. In a play off with neighbours Belgium, the Netherlands lost 1–0 in Brussels, but were leading 2–0 in the home leg in Rotterdam with a few minutes remaining. Belgium scored to end the tie 2–1, and overall play off 2–2. Belgium advanced on the away goal rule.
Rinus Michels returned, with his technical assistant Joris van Beek, to coach the team for the Euro '88 tournament in West Germany. After losing the first group match against the Soviet Union (1–0), the Netherlands qualified for the semi-final by defeating England 3–1 (with a hat-trick by the tournament's top scorer Marco van Basten), and Republic of Ireland (1–0). For many Dutch football supporters, the most important match in the tournament was the semi-final against West Germany, the host country, considered a revenge for the lost 1974 World Cup final (also in West Germany). Marco van Basten scored in the 89th minute to sink the German side. The Netherlands won the final with a victory over the USSR through a header by Ruud Gullit and a volley by Van Basten. This was the national team's first major tournament win, and it restored them to the forefront of international football for the next three years after almost a decade in the wilderness.
Despite high expectations as the team entered the 1990 World Cup in Italy, the tournament was not a success, as strife within the squad and managerial instability (Thijs Libregts took over from Michels only to be fired shortly after the team qualified, and was replaced by Leo Beenhakker for the finals) ultimately tore the team apart. Van Basten failed to score, as he was frequently marked by opposing defenders, while Gullit was ineffective having not fully recovered from injury. The Dutch managed to advance despite drawing all three group games, meeting their arch-rivals West Germany in the round of 16. The match is most remembered for the spitting-incident involving Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler as the Netherlands lost 2–1.
The team reached the semi-finals in the Euro '92 in Sweden, which was noted for the emergence of Dennis Bergkamp, but they were eliminated by eventual champions Denmark, with Van Basten's kick in the penalty shootout being saved by Peter Schmeichel. This was to be Van Basten's last major tournament as he suffered a serious ankle injury shortly after, eventually conceding defeat and retiring at the age of 30 in 1995; it was also the last hurrah for Rinus Michels, who returned for one final spell in charge of the team before retiring for good after the tournament ended.
Dick Advocaat took over from Michels on the understanding that he himself would be replaced by Johan Cruijff the following year, although Advocaat actually stayed in charge for over two years. In the 1994 World Cup in the United States, in the absence of the injured Van Basten and the striking Gullit, Dennis Bergkamp led the team with three goals and the Netherlands advanced to the quarter-finals, where they lost 3–2 to eventual champions Brazil.
Contrasting fortunes: 1996–
At Euro '96, after drawing with Scotland and beating Switzerland, the Dutch faced the hosts England in the Group A decider, and lost 4–1, with Patrick Kluivert's late consolation enough to finish second on goals scored. They then played France in the quarter-finals and lost on penalties.
In the 1998 World Cup, a Dutch team including Marc Overmars, Phillip Cocu, Edgar Davids, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer and Kluivert, met Argentina in the quarter-final and won 2–1, before losing on penalties to Brazil and in the third-place play-off to Croatia. Soon afterwards, manager Guus Hiddink resigned to be replaced by Frank Rijkaard. The Netherlands co-hosted Euro 2000 with Belgium and won all three wins in the group stage and then defeated Yugoslavia 6–1 in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, Italian goalkeeper Francesco Toldo made two penalty shootout saves to eliminate the Netherlands. The Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup after crucial losses to Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, and manager Louis van Gaal resigned.
Dick Advocaat returned to coach the Netherlands for a second time. In his first game, a 1–0 win over Spain on 27 March, the Netherlands won the Unofficial Football World Championships (UFWC). In addition, on 21 August, the Netherlands won Nasazzi's Baton, defeating Norway 1–0, unifying for the first time the two trophies. He led the team to the semifinals of Euro 2004 where they lost to the hosts Portugal.
The Netherlands qualified for the 2006 World Cup under new manager Marco van Basten and were eliminated in the second round after losing 1–0 to Portugal, in a match that produced 16 yellow cards (which matched the World Cup record for most cautions in one game set in 2002) and set a new World Cup record of four red cards (two for either side); it was nicknamed "the Battle of Nuremberg" by the press. Despite criticism surrounding his selection policy and the lack of attacking football from his team, Van Basten was offered a two-year extension to his contract by the KNVB, which would allow him to serve as national coach during Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. The Netherlands qualified for Euro 2008, where they were drawn in the "Group of Death," together with France, Italy and Romania. They began with a 3–0 win over World champions Italy in Bern, a first victory over that opponent since 1978. They lost in the quarter-finals to Hiddink's Russia 3–1, with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring an 86th-minute equaliser to force extra time where the Russians went on to score twice.
Under new coach Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch went on to secure a 100 percent record in their World Cup 2010 qualification campaign to qualifying for the World Cup. In the quarter-finals against Brazil, the Brazilians held a 1–0 lead at the half and had never lost in 37 World Cup matches (35–0–2) in which they had held a half-time lead, but the Dutch scored twice to advance. In the semi-final, the Dutch beat Uruguay 3–2 to advance to their first World Cup final since 1978, where they would fall to Spain 1–0 after midfielder Andrés Iniesta scored in extra time. From August to September 2011, the team was ranked number one in the FIFA World Rankings, thus becoming the second national football team, after Spain, to top the rankings without previously winning a World Cup. For Euro 2012, the Netherlands were placed in Group B alongside with Germany, Portugal and Denmark, dubbed the tournament's "Group of Death." The Netherlands lost all three of its matches. Johan Cruyff criticised the team's star players of poor build up play and sloppy execution of the easy passes, while manager Bert van Marwijk resigned after the disappointment.
Louis van Gaal then became manager for the second time. In the 2014 World Cup UEFA qualifying round, the Netherlands won nine games and drew one, topping the group and earning automatic qualification. They were drawn into Group B, along with Spain, Chile and Australia. The team avenged their 2010 defeat by defeating title holders Spain 5–1 in their opening match, with Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben scoring two goals each, and Stefan de Vrij the other. After the Dutch fell behind 1–0 from conceding a penalty, Van Persie equalized just before half time with an acrobatic diving header that gave him the nickname "The Flying Dutchman".
The Netherlands defeated Mexico 2–1 in the round of 16, with Wesley Sneijder equalising late in the match, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring a controversial penalty after a foul on Arjen Robben in stoppage time. In the quarter-finals, where they faced Costa Rica, the Dutch had many shots on goal but could not score, with the match finishing in a 0–0 draw after extra time. The Netherlands won the ensuing penalty shootout 4–3 in large part due to backup goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was brought on just before the end of extra time and made two saves, marking the first time in World Cup history a goalkeeper was brought onto the field solely to participate in a shootout. In the semi-final game against Argentina, the Netherlands had a good chance to score from Arjen Robben while managing to contain Lionel Messi, and both teams finished scoreless after extra time. In penalty kicks, however, the Dutch were eliminated 4–2, with Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder having their spot kicks saved by Sergio Romero. The Netherlands won the third-place match against the hosts. Van Gaal, who successfully motivated the team after their semi-final knockout, received praise for getting more out of the young and inexperienced Netherlands squad than many expected. He left to become manager of Manchester United.
Van Gaal was succeeded by Guus Hiddink for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. On 29 June 2015 Hiddink left his position as manager, and was succeeded by assistant Blind. The Netherlands came fourth in their group, failing to qualify for the European Championship for the first time since 1984 and a major tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup.
The Netherlands national football team famously plays in bright orange shirts. Orange is the historic national colour of the Netherlands, originating from one of the many titles of the ruling head of state, Prince of Orange, which is also the color of the same name. The current Dutch away shirt is blue.
Nike is the kit provider to the national team, a sponsorship that began in 1996 and is contracted to continue until at least 2026.
Netherlands' long-time football rival is Germany. The rivalry is one of the few long-standing football rivalries at a national level. Beginning in 1974, when the Dutch lost the 1974 FIFA World Cup to West Germany in the final (though deeply rooted in Dutch anti-German sentiment due to the occupation of the Netherlands by Germany during World War II), the rivalry between the two nations has become one of the best-known international football rivalries in the world.
To a minor extent, the Netherlands maintains a rivalry with their other neighbours, Belgium; a Belgian-Dutch (football) duel is referred to as a Low Countries derby. More recently, the Netherlands have also developed a rivalry with Spain.
The following players were named in the squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Bulgaria on 25 March 2017 and the friendly game against Italy on 28 March 2017.
Caps and goals updated as of 13 November 2016 after the match against Luxembourg.
The following players have been called up for the team in the last 12 months.
INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
PRE Preliminary squad.
Results and fixturesFor all past match results of the national team, see the team's results page.
The following matches were played or are scheduled to be played by the national team in the current or upcoming seasons. The time in the Netherlands is shown first. If the local time is different, it will be displayed below.
Last updated: 9 November 2016
Source: voetbalstats.nl (Dutch)