NETHERLANDS

Regarded by many as one of the best midfielders of his generation Clarence Seedorf is one of the most decorated Dutch players ever, and has won domestic and continental titles while playing for clubs in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Brazil.

He is considered one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, as he is the first, and currently the only, player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs – once with Ajax, in 1995, once with Real Madrid, in 1998 and twice with Milan, in 2003 and 2007.

At international level, he represented the Netherlands on 87 occasions, and took part at three European Championships (1996, 2000, 2004) and the 1998 World Cup, reaching the semi-finals of the latter three tournaments.

Before the 1988 European Championship, 23-year-old Dutch striker Marco van Basten was one of the most promising talents in the game. A hat-trick against England, a semi-final winner versus West Germany and a spectacular volley from an acute angle to see off the Soviet Union in the final, and he was already in football's Hall of Fame.

Renowned for his clinical finishing, with a penchant for scoring opportunistic and acrobatic goals, he seemed to be the ultimate striker. Van Bastens's height and strength allowed him to excel in the air, with his speed and quick reactions, he often took advantage of loose balls in the penalty area and his technical ability saw him execute spectacular strikes with either foot.
Van Basten was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992, and European Footballer of the Year three times (1988, 1989 and 1992).

The finest goal in Championship history, the 'Swan of Utrecht's' wonder strike is often regarded as one of the best of all time. Sent a cross from Arnold Mühren nine minutes into the second half, van Basten said he took a risk with his angled volley, when it seemed he could realistically only cross the ball back into the box.
Watching it all the way onto his foot, van Basten caught it so sweetly the Soviet keeper had no chance as he watched it loop over him.

Dennis Bergkamp once said "Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought". Its a simple football philosophy and would help mark him out for legendary status for club and country.
A true giant of the game, he is respected and admired by football fans everywhere, whatever their allegiance.
One of the Premierships first genuine superstars, Bergkamp will be remembered as one of the most influential figures in its history.

As a youngster, Bergkamp learned from the Dutch master Johan Cruyff at Ajax, and it was apparent. He has been described by writer Jan Mulder as having "the finest technique" of any Dutch international and a "dream for a striker" by teammate Thierry Henry.
With the Netherlands, Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top goalscorer of all time in 1998, a record later eclipsed by Patrick Kluivert and Robin van Persie.

Bergkamp's imagination was his gift and his curse. It elevated him above his peers, but it is also meant he was in danger of driving himself round the bend aiming for something that he could not explain and which might not even exist.
The perfectionist's perfectionist summed it up with "There's a tremendous pleasure in doing something that someone else couldn't see."

The non-flying Dutchman scored three times in the 1998 World Cup.
These included a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina. He took one touch to control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala's legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot, past the keeper at a tight angle from the right. The goal, cited by Bergkamp as his favourite ever.

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.
At the 2014 finals they avenged their loss from four years earlier with an incredible 5-1 beating of Spain in their opening match, on their way to another semi-final.

With a balance of solid defence and the attacking flair of Sneijder, van Persie and Robben they had hopes of yet another final appearence but in a tight and tense game they finally succumbed on penalties to old rivals Argentina.

The World Cup final in 1974 was supposed to be player of the tournament Johan Cruyffs defining moment. Unfortunately for him the hosts Germany hadnt read the script.
It was a tribute to the Dutch that they were overwhelming favourites in a match against a German team that started with 6 players who had just won a European cup.
Maybe the fact Holland started so well, scoring before a German player had touched the ball led to a relaxed approach and goals from Breitner and Muller sealed their fate.

Cruyff was known for his technical ability, speed, acceleration and dribbling but his greatest quality was vision, based on an acute sense of his team-mates' positions as an attack unfolded. He played centre forward but would drop deep to confuse his markers or suddenly move to the wing with devastating effect. Due to the way Cruyff played his game, he is still referred to as "the total footballer".

In the early seventies he won 3 successive European cups with Ajax, the Ballon d'Or a record three times and is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time.

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