A prolific goal-scorer whose main asset was his heading ability, he played in his country for two of the most important clubs, Ajax and PSV. He also played abroad in Italy and France.
Kieft played for the Dutch national team, and was a member of the squad that won Euro 1988. He also represented the nation at the 1990 World Cup.
Wim Kieft is one of five European players to ever win a Treble with their club and a cup with their national team in the same year. The other four players are his teammates Hans van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle, Ronald Koeman and Gerald Vanenburg.
Born in Amsterdam, Kieft started his professional career with local AFC Ajax, making his first-team debuts on 4 May 1980 at not yet 18. Amongst his youth teammates were Frank Rijkaard, John van 't Schip, Marco van Basten and Gerald Vanenburg, as in his first two full seasons he scored at an astonishing rate, especially in 1981–82 when he netted 32 goals in as many games, being crucial as the team lifted the Eredivisie title and receiving the European Golden Boot award.
At only 20, Kieft was sold to Italy's Pisa Calcio, scoring only three times in a relegation-ending campaign. He did help the Tuscany side immediately promote to Serie A, but underperformed overall in the top flight, with that club and his following, Torino FC.
In the 1987 summer Kieft returned to his country, signing for PSV Eindhoven. His impact was immediate, as his new team won the treble, including the season's European Cup, where he scored in the penalty shootout defeat of S.L. Benfica (0–0 after 120 minutes). En route to these accolades he contributed with more than 30 goals overall, 29 alone in the league, a competition-best.
Kieft had his second and last abroad experience in 1990, joining FC Girondins de Bordeaux from France and again underachieving, returning to PSV and playing three more seasons until his retirement, averaging more than 11 goals in his second spell with the latter. In total, he scored 158 times in only 264 games in the Netherlands' top division.
In 2009 Kieft rejoined PSV, being named assistant coach of the club's youth sides.
Kieft gained his first cap for the Netherlands in 1981. He would represent the national team in three major international tournaments, UEFA Euro 1988, the 1990 FIFA World Cup and Euro 1992.
In the first competition, Kieft played three times for the eventual champions, always as a second-half substitute: on 18 June 1988, after having replaced Erwin Koeman, he scored in the 82nd minute of the 1–0 group stage win against the Republic of Ireland, through a header, helping the Dutch overtake their opponents in the match and finish second in Group 2 to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Kieft played four times in the second tournament, held in Italy, starting against a familiar opponent, Ireland, and finding the net in the 1–1 draw against Egypt, as the Oranje exited in the round-of-16.
After retiring, Kieft worked as a football pundit for television channels Sport1 and RTL.
His son, Robbin (born 1987), was also a footballer. After attending Ajax and FC Groningen's youth academies, he played exclusively in the lower leagues of his country.
In his biography, published in 2014, Kieft admitted his long-lasting consumption of cocaine, which began after the end of his career and ended after a withdrawal treatment.Eredivisie: 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1991–92
KNVB Cup: 1982–83, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90; Runner-up 1979–80, 1980–81
Johan Cruijff Shield: 1992; Runner-up 1991
European Cup: 1987–88
Mitropa Cup: 1985–86
UEFA European Championship: 1988
Eredivisie: Top Scorer 1981–82, 1987–88
European Golden Boot: 1982
UEFA Cup: Top Scorer 1986–87