Long Reads

Premier League Dutch Winners – the incredible, the illustrious and the ineffective

Holland has produced some of the finest footballers down the years, boasting phenomenal national sides who have lit up the world stage in their bright orange kit for decades. One Dutch legend even has his own iconic turn named after him and is commonly recognised as the man who transformed Barcelona, Johan Cruyff. Unfortunately Cruyff never graced the English top flight with his presence, but many of his compatriots have.

From the birth of the newly formed top flight, Southampton signed Chelsea’s Dutch defender Ken Monkou, becoming the first player from the Netherlands to transfer in the Premier League era. He went on to play almost 200 hundred games for the Saints, however much of his career on the south coast was spent fighting off relegation. So, how about the Dutchmen who have had more illustrious careers in the world’s best domestic league.

There is little doubt foreign players have played a major role in making the league what it is today, but Holland has continued to be one of the main protagonists, giving us some of it’s greatest exports of recent times

A number of Dutch players have spent the majority of their career plying their trade on UK soil. George Boateng is currently the record Dutch Premier League appearance maker with 384 games, the majority of which came from his time with Middlesbrough.

Here, however, I have taken a look at every Dutchman to lift the coveted Premier League title…

Alexander Buttner

Despite only making 12 appearances during a two-year stay at Manchester United, the left-back earned a Premier League winners medal in 2012/13. He left the club soon after, heading back to Holland. Buttner now plays for New England Revolution in the USA.

Raimond van der Gouw

Someone else who may be thankful for being a part of such a successful Manchester United squad. Van der Gouw spent much of his time in Manchester as understudy to Fabien Barthez, making only 37 appearances in six seasons at the club. Alongside a Champions League winners medal in 1999, the Dutch keeper also picked up two league medals.

He is currently goalkeeping coach at Vitesse Arnhem.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

The Dutch midfielder’s start to life in England was marred by injury, he damaged his cruciate knee ligament shortly after arriving at Arsenal from Rangers. Once fit, he helped the Gunners to the title in 2001/02 before moving on to Barcelona where he enjoyed the best spell of his career. Van Bronckhorst also earned over 100 caps for his country. Having left his managerial role at Feyenoord, van Bronckhorst is now managing in China with Guangzhou R&F.

Jordi Cruyff

Son of the aforementioned Johan, unlike his father, Jordi did make the short trip from Holland to England. Jordi spent four seasons at Old Trafford between 1996-2000, although he only played 34 times in those years. In 1996, he did play enough to earn a winners’ medal when Manchester United were crowned champions once more.

Cruyff is currently manager of Shenzhen FC in the Chinese Super League.

Nigel de Jong

In the early years of the revolution at Manchester City, Nigel de Jong arrived from Hamburg and made himself a fans’ favourite at City. The aggressive midfielder made over 100 appearances for the club and in 2011/12 played a major role in the club’s first Premier League title.

De Jong scored one goal in his international career during a tenure which saw the midfielder earn 81 caps and famously produce a chest high tackle on Spain’s Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Famous perhaps for being the scorer of unspectacular goals, rarely would the Dutchman smash one in from 25 yards out. But with a record of 95 goals in a mere 150 Manchester United appearances, who cares how they go in? The prolific marksman was a focal point in United’s 02/03 Premier League success, taking the season’s Golden Boot with 25 goals.

In December 2019, it was confirmed that Van Nistelrooy had been added to Holland national team manager Ronald Koeman’s backroom staff as an assistant manager. He scored 35 times in 70 appearances for the national team during his playing career.

Marc Overmars

Another in a list of Dutch fan favourites down at Highbury from the Arsene Wenger era. Marc Overmars was a flying winger who won the English top flight in 97/98. Overmars scored the winning goal against nearest rivals Manchester United in a crucial 1-0 win at Old Trafford on their way to the title. After three seasons, he left London and headed to Barcelona.

Overmars became director of football at Ajax in July 2012, a role he still occupies.

Arjen Robben

The Dutch maestro has an array of winners’ medals, two of which he collected whilst with Chelsea. His magical left foot helped the club claim titles in 03/04 and 05/06. He left Chelsea in 2007 to play for Real Madrid before seeing out his glittering career with Bayern Munich.

In April 2003, he made his Netherlands international debut in a friendly match against Portugal at age 19, going on to earn 96 caps.

Robben, who retired in July 2019, has recently announced he is coming back to football, returning to his boyhood club FC Groningen for the 2020/21 season.

Jaap Stam

A colossal centre back, Stam won the league in each of his three seasons at Manchester United. His iconic bald head was at the heart of the United defence and steered the side to glory time and time again. He left the club as a legend in 2001 to go to Lazio, where he spent a number of years in Italy before returning to his native Holland to finish his career with Ajax.

Stam also reached his third semi-final in an international competition at Euro 2004 in Portugal, he retired from international football after the tournament. In total, he played 67 matches for the Netherlands, scoring three goals.

Edwin van der Sar

The giant Dutch keeper was bought by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2005 from Fulham, he then went on to lift a staggering four Premier League titles in just six seasons in Manchester. He retired in 2011 whilst still at the club having represented his country 130 times.

In total, the keeper won 26 major trophies throughout his playing career, he is undoubtedly one of the most successful Dutchmen to have played the game.

Robin van Persie

After eight relatively successful years with Arsenal, the prolific forward made the controversial move to rivals Manchester United in search of a Premier League winners’ medal; something he had failed to achieve whilst with the Gunners. It didn’t take long for the move to be justified, winning the league in his first season in Manchester. RVP also lifted the Golden Boot in the same season with 26 goals.

Robin Van Persie scored 50 goals in 102 appearances for his country.

Dennis Bergkamp

The non-flying Dutchman. Known for his crippling fear of flying, the striker would often take boats, trains and cars to get to away matches in Europe whilst with Arsenal, anything to avoid stepping foot on a plane. He wasn’t scared of showing his ability on the pitch however, scoring some memorable goals with some sublime touches we still talk about to this day. Bergkamp partnered Thierry Henry for much of his Arsenal career, lifting the Premier League three times in total.

The Dutchman retired a club legend at Arsenal after 11 years of service, amassing an impressive 315 appearances.

Virgil van Dijk

After starting life at FC Groningen before a move to Scottish champions Celtic, it was a move to the Premier League and Southampton that brought attention to the abilities of the giant Dutch centre half. Liverpool, who have used the Saints as a feeder club in recent years, brought VVD to Anfield for £75 million, a world-record fee for a defender at the time. Since his arrival, Virgil has been outstanding for the Reds, picking up numerous personal awards including 2018/19 PFA Players’ Player of the Year, as well as team honours including a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and most recently bringing a first Premier League title to Liverpool.

Often described as a ‘Rolls Royce’ defender, Van Dijk has recently become captain of the Dutch national team, and deservedly so.

Georginio Wijnaldum

The industrious midfielder started off life in his native Netherlands and enjoyed spells with both Feyenoord and PSV before moving to Newcastle in 2015. After appearing in every match in his first season with the club, Newcastle were relegated with Wijnaldum finishing as top goalscorer from midfield with 11 goals. His ability didn’t go unnoticed and Liverpool took him from the Championship-bound Magpies, he has teamed up with countryman van Dijk for Liverpool’s most successful period in three decades; culminating in Premier League success this season.

In what was the most surreal and arduous wait for Wijnaldum and van Dijk to be confirmed champions. Way back in March it seemed a matter of days before they were crowned, however a global pandemic brought a halt to English football until mid-June. The Dutch stars were officially Premier League winners on June 25th 2020, which, of course, was the latest in a calendar this has ever been achieved. However, the monumental margin between them and Man. City meant they won the title in just 31 matches, the quickest of any team in Premier League history.

As fans, we are blessed with watching the top players from around the world compete in our own domestic top flight week in, week out, and the Dutch inclusions have been no exception.

Given the names of the Premier League winners highlighted here, a Netherlands XI comprised of the best Dutchmen to have graced us with their presence would push many of the best sides currently in the league all the way to the title. The biggest question would be who Virgil van Dijk played for.

Article by Dan Clubbe via Football’s Finest