Nostalgia

Roy Makaay: a Forgotten Talent in the Shadows of Dutch Greats

Roy Maakay at Feyenoord
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Roy Makaay is perhaps slightly unlucky in as much as he played in the same era as several Dutch greats and so finds his legacy not quite as prominent as it would have been in almost any other era.

A 17 playing year career spent at clubs such as Deportivo La Coruna, Bayern Munich and Feyenoord is nothing to be sniffed at, of course, and now he has branched out into coaching it is fair to say that Makaay might yet join the pantheon of all-time Dutch greats.

A fast-running forward, Makaay first came to prominence with VFB Vitesse, where he made his debut aged 18. He would go onto make considerably more than a century of appearances over the next four years, scoring at a rate of almost one goal every two games.

This sort of output brought Makaay to the attention of clubs in Spain and so he moved to La Liga in 1997 when he initially joined Tenerife. The next two seasons were just as productive as his time at Vitesse had been and in two seasons he made over 70 league appearances. His goalscoring rate was still very high, if down a little on his time at Vitesse, and his admirers continued to grow.

Playing abroad at a relatively young age did not seem to faze Makaay and indeed it would be a decade before he returned to play once more in the Dutch Eredivisie. His goals and all-round play at Tenerife made him a target for ‘bigger’ clubs not only in Spain but also in other countries throughout Europe.

Despite this widespread interest, Makaay elected to stay in Spain when he finally moved on from Tenerife and it was to Deportivo La Coruna that he headed in 1999.

This is where he really made his name, and after scoring a hat-trick on his debut in a league game against Alaves, Makaay never looked back. His inaugural season for Deportivo was an unqualified success as his goals helped fire the side to their first-ever La Liga title. His return of 22 goals in 36 league appearances was instrumental in their success.

This was built on in the coming seasons as the club lifted the Spanish Cup and Supercup in 2002, with Makaay again as prolific as ever.

After 4 years at the club, Makaay was now a sought-after commodity with the truly ‘giant’ sides in European football reportedly hot on his tail, so as to speak. In the summer of 2003, a move to the Premier League was highly anticipated with both Chelsea and Manchester United very much in the running for his signature.

Perhaps very slightly surprisingly, Makaay resisted the allure of Old Trafford and instead plumped for Bayern Munich.

Once more, success came to Makaay during his spell in Munich with the Bundesliga being won in 2004-05 and again a year later. In fact, in each year the league and cup double was achieved.

Although Makaay was not successful in terms of winning European Club honours, he is amongst a select handful of players who have managed to score Champions League hat-tricks for more than one club, having achieved the feat with both Bayern and Deprtivo. He also broke the record for the quickest ever goal scored in the Champions League when he netted in just 10.4 seconds in a game for Bayern against Real Madrid.

After four years in Germany, Makaay eventually returned to Holland where he played out the rest of his career at Feyenoord. Once more he found tangible success as Feyenoord captured the Dutch Cup in 2008.

Playing most of his career as an out and out striker, Makaay was known for his pace and power. He was a lean six foot two inches and had an explosive speed. Able to score both poacher-type goals and long-range efforts from outside the area, Makaay was seen to be an all-round striker.

At international level, it might be accurate if a little churlish to contend that maybe Makaay slightly underachieved. He wasn’t fortunate enough to play in the final stages of a World Cup tournament, but he did represent his country at both Euro 2000 and Euro 2004. He also represented Holland as an over-aged player in the 2008 Olympics in China.

Undoubtedly unlucky to be on the scene at the same time as players such as Patrick Kluivert, Dennis Bergkamp and Ruud van Nistelrooy, Makaay nevertheless managed to win 43 caps over 9 years.

Scoring a hat-trick in his last competitive game, Makaay retired from playing in 2010 having amassed more than 600 league games in three countries and scoring almost 300 goals. As well as the club honours picked up on his travels, Makaay was also awarded the European Golden Boot in 2003 and was consistently top goal scorer during his career.

Since retiring in 2010, Makaay has been involved in coaching at Feyenoord. He has worked with the club’s U19 and U21 sides as well as the first team and also as a scout.

About the author

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David Nesbit

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