Van Hanegem played for Velox SC, Xerxes/DHC, Feyenoord, AZ'67, Chicago Sting, FC Utrecht and, finally, Feyenoord once again.
In the Netherlands he is widely considered as one of the best Dutch football players in history. He was renowned for his tactical insight and was well known for his fantastic passing range and his ability with the ball at his feet. Both his way of sprinting (he had bandy legs), and his skill to give the ball a curve (achieved by striking the ball with the outside of his left foot) gave him the nickname De Kromme (The Crooked). Whilst being primarily renowned for the technical part of his game, he was also highly capable in the defensive part of his game, being a good tackler and not afraid to go into physical challenges. His primary weakness was his lack of pace.
After retiring as a player, Van Hanegem joined Feyenoord as assistant manager in 1983 and stayed in the post until 1986. He then joined FC Utrecht as assistant, before moving to FC Wageningen. He returned to Feyenoord as manager in 1992, winning the league in 1993 and the Dutch Cup in 1994 and 1995.
In 1995, he had a spell as manager with Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal, then took the post at AZ'67 in 1997. He joined Sparta Rotterdam in 2001. His stay was short-lived, and afterwards he became assistant manager of the Dutch national side. He was appointed manager of FC Utrecht in July 2007 and was fired on 23 December 2008.
Van Hanegem was known for rough, passionate play against German sides (before the 1974 final, he exhorted the Dutch side to "stuff the Germans"). "I don't like Germans. Everytime I played against German players, I had a problem because of the war."
In the summer of 1944 the German 15th army was fleeing northward from Calais to the Netherlands. On 11 September the Allies bombed the Wehrmacht near the ferry terminal at Breskens. Citizens had fled the town but Lo and Izaak van Hanegem, Willem's father and older brother, went back to get supplies. They hid in a shelter, which was hit. Both died. Van Hanegem later lost a brother and a sister to the war. His hatred was summed up after the 1974 final, "I didn't give a damn as long as we humiliated them. They murdered my father, sister and two brothers. I am full of angst. I hate them." After the game (with Germany winning 2–1) Van Hanegem left the field in tears.
In later years, however, Van Hanegem used a more conciliatory tone, when commenting on the war.
Willem's son, Willem van Hanegem jr., is an international electronic dance music artist and DJ. Together with Ward van der Harst he forms DJ/producer duo W&W which is very well known in the EDM scene.
EredivisieWinner – 1968–69, 1970–71, 1973–74
KNVB CupWinner – 1968–69
European CupWinner – 1969–70
Intercontinental CupWinner – 1970
UEFA CupWinner – 1973–74
With the Dutch national team:
FIFA World CupRunner-up – 1974
European Football ChampionshipThird place – 1976
EredivisieWinner – 1992–93
KNVB CupWinner – 1993–94, 1994–95
Dutch Footballer of the YearWinner – 1971