Johan Neeskens

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Johan Neeskens
Johan Neeskens 1974.jpg
Neeskens in 1974
Personal information
Full name Johannes Jacobus Neeskens
Date of birth (1951-09-15) 15 September 1951 (age 67)
Place of birth Heemstede, Netherlands
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1968–1970 RCH 68 (1)
1970–1974 Ajax 124 (33)
1974–1979 Barcelona 140 (35)
1979–1984 New York Cosmos 94 (17)
1984–1985 Groningen 7 (0)
1985 Fort Lauderdale Sun ? (?)
1985–1986 Kansas City Comets (indoor) 23 (1)
1986–1987 Löwenbrau (amateurs) ? (?)
1987–1990 Baar 23 (5)
1990–1991 Zug 1 (0)
National team
1970–1981 Netherlands 49 (17)
Teams managed
1991–1993 Zug
1993–1995 Stäfa
1995–1996 Singen
1995–2000 Netherlands (assistant manager)
2000–2004 NEC
2005–2006 Australia (assistant manager)
2006–2008 Barcelona (assistant manager)
2008–2009 Netherlands B
2009–2010 Galatasaray (assistant manager)
2011–2012 Mamelodi Sundowns

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Johannes Jacobus "Johan" Neeskens (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈneːskə(n)s]; born 15 September 1951) is a Dutch football manager and former midfielder. As a player, he was an important member of the Dutch national team that finished as runners-up in the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups and is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. Former England manager Alf Ramsey said Neeskens was "as good as any player" in the tournament. He was the assistant coach to Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona but was sacked along with Rijkaard as the end of the 2007–08 season. He was the head coach of the Dutch B national team until June 2009,[2] at which date he has been appointed as the assistant coach to Frank Rijkaard at Galatasaray SK.[3]

Club career

Neeskens, a native of Heemstede, started his career at RCH Heemstede in 1968, before being spotted by Rinus Michels and signed for Ajax in 1970. The youngster impressed at right-back, playing in that position for Ajax in the 1971 European Cup Final win against Panathinaikos. During the 1971–72 season, Neeskens took up more of a central midfield role, in support of Johan Cruyff. He adapted well to his new central midfield role because he was a tireless runner, had great technical skills and scored his fair share of goals. Ajax completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins between 1971 and 1973, and Neeskens moved on to FC Barcelona in 1974 to join Cruijff and Michels. There he was nicknamed Johan Segon (Johan the Second).

While his time at Barça was relatively unsuccessful for the club (one cup title in 1978, and the 1979 Cup Winners' Cup), he was hugely popular amongst the fans. In 1979, he accepted an offer from the New York Cosmos, spending 5 years at the club. The Cosmos released him October 1984. He also played for FC Groningen during the 1984–85 season. In June 1985, he signed with the Fort Lauderdale Sun of the United Soccer League.[4] The USL collapsed six games into the 1985 season. On 15 August 1989, he signed with the Kansas City Comets of the Major Indoor Soccer League.[5]

He then played for FC Baar (1988–90) and FC Zug in Switzerland, finally hanging up his boots in 1991.

International career

Neeskens scoring the opening goal in the 1974 World Cup final against West Germany

Neeskens was capped 49 times for his country, scoring 17 goals. He made his debut against East Germany, and played a crucial role in the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, playing in central midfield. Neeskens scored the opening goal of the 1974 World Cup final against West Germany with a penalty kick after only two minutes of play.

Four years later, Neeskens was a crucial player for the Dutch (despite a rib injury suffered in the Scotland defeat), in the absence of Cruijff who had retired from international football in 1977. The Netherlands again reached the final, only to lose to the hosts, this time Argentina, going down 3–1 after extra time (the score at the end of regulation was 1–1). He played his final international game in 1981 in a 2–0 defeat against France in a qualifier for the 1982 World Cup.

Neeskens was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004.

Coaching career

At the request of Guus Hiddink, Neeskens, along with Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman, acted as assistant coach for the Dutch national team during the qualifiers and finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. When Hiddink stepped down as national coach after the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he performed the same role during the reign of Frank Rijkaard as national coach up until the end of Euro 2000. He was then appointed as coach of Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, leading them to their first European appearance in twenty years in 2003, but was fired in 2004 because of poor results.

In December 2005, Neeskens was appointed assistant coach of the Australian national team, once again at the request of Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos's manager at the time. He worked alongside Hiddink and Graham Arnold as part of their World Cup 2006 campaign, and even afterwards he remained involved with the Australian national team: on 7 October 2006, under contract with FC Barcelona, Neeskens was alongside the Australian national team's bench in a friendly match between Paraguay while visiting Australia for a short break.

After the 2006 World Cup, Neeskens returned to FC Barcelona to replace Henk ten Cate in the club's technical staff, reuniting with Frank Rijkaard. The three-year deal was signed when Neeskens flew in from Germany following Australia's opening win over Japan, but on 8 May 2008, after two disappointing seasons, Barcelona's president Joan Laporta announced that Neeskens (as well as Rijkaard) were to leave Barcelona at the end of the season.

Neeskens joined Frank Rijkaard at Galatasaray as his assistant manager in 2009. He is now the coach of South African based club, Mamelodi Sundowns F.C..

Neeskens' time with Mamelodi Sundowns F.C. was less than successful with the Dutch coach finding himself attacked by his own supporters following a string of poor results.

As of December 2nd 2012 Neeskens was no longer under the employment of Mamelodi Sundowns F.C. and has remained without a job since.

Johan Neeskens and Marianne Schiphof are getting married on 16 July 1974

Style of play

Neeskens has been described on the UEFA website as having the "steel-hard midfielder was a tireless runner yet also had nice technique and scored goals, helping to set the stage for Cruyff to shine. One of the first box-to-box midfielders," he was great at pressuring opponents to regain possession too. "He was worth two men in midfield," said team-mate Sjaak Swart.[6]







Career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
1968–69 RCH Eerste Divisie 34 0
1969–70 34 1
1970–71 Ajax Eredivisie 33 1 - - - - 9 2 42 3
1971–72 28 10 8 0 36 10
1972–73 32 7 7 0 39 7
1973–74 31 15 2 0 33 15
Spain League Copa del Rey Supercopa de España Europe Total
1974–75 Barcelona La Liga 27 7 EC1 1
1975–76 32 12 EC3 7
1976–77 33 8 EC3 1
1977–78 18 2 EC3 1
1978–79 30 6 EC2 0
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1979 New York Cosmos North American Soccer League 13 4
1980 17 4
1981 6 2
1982 17 0
1983 23 2
1984 18 5
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
1984–85 Groningen Eredivisie 7 0
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1985–86 Minnesota Strikers
1986–87 Fort Lauderdale Sun
1986–87 Löwenbrau
Switzerland League Schweizer Cup League Cup Europe Total
1987–88 Baar 9 1
1988–89 13 4
1989–90 1 0
1990–91 Zug 1 0
Total Netherlands 199 34
Spain 140 35
Switzerland 24 5
Career total


Netherlands national team
Year Apps Goals
1970 2 0
1971 3 0
1972 4 5
1973 5 1
1974 13 9
1975 3 1
1976 4 1
1977 3 0
1978 8 0
1979 2 0
1980 0 0
1981 2 0
Total 49 17


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  4. NEESKENS' GAME-WINNER LIFTS SUN, 3–1 Miami Herald, The (FL) – Sunday, 23 June 1985
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External links