Rob Rensenbrink

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Rob Rensenbrink
Rensenbrink in 1978
Personal information
Full name Pieter Robert Rensenbrink
Date of birth (1947-07-03) 3 July 1947 (age 71)[1]
Place of birth Amsterdam, Netherlands[1]
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Left winger, Forward
Youth career
DWS Amsterdam
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1965–1969 Door Wilskracht Sterk 120 (34)
1969–1971 Club Brugge 55 (24)
1971–1980 Anderlecht 262 (143)
1980 Portland Timbers 18 (6)
1981–1982 Toulouse 12 (1)
Total 467 (208)
National team
1968–1979 Netherlands 46 (14[2])

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

† Appearances (goals)

Pieter Robert ("Rob") Rensenbrink (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈpitər ˈroːbərt (ˈrɔp) ˈrɛnsə(m)ˌbrɪŋk]; born 3 July 1947 in Amsterdam) is a former Dutch football player and member of the Dutch national football team that reached two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. A creative left winger or forward of considerable talent, he became a legend in Belgium whilst playing in the great Anderlecht side of the 1970s. He is the UEFA Cup Winners Cup's all-time top scorer, with 25 goals. A talented dribbler as well as a cool finisher and adequate passer, he only ever missed two penalties in his entire career. He was also the first winner of the Onze d'Or.


Club career

Born in Amsterdam, Rensenbrink started his career at DWS, an Amsterdam amateur club, before moving to Belgian side Club Brugge in 1969. Between 1971 and 1980 he played for Anderlecht where he enjoyed his greatest club successes. In total when in Belgium he twice won the Belgian Championships, the Belgian Cup five times and at European club level the European Cup Winners' Cup twice (in 1976 and 1978 as well as being runner-up in 1977). Rensenbrink delivered a notable performance in the 1976 final as Anderlecht ran out 4-2 winners against West Ham United. He scored two goals, one from the penalty spot and set up Francois Van der Elst for the fourth goal. [3] Among his team mates was Dutch internationalist compatriot, Arie Haan. In 1980, he left Anderlecht and wound down his career with a spell at Portland Timbers in the NASL, followed by a brief stay with Toulouse in France in 1981.

International career

Rensenbrink made his international debut for the Netherlands national football team against Scotland in 1968, but picked up relatively few caps due to competition for the forward positions with Johan Cruijff and Piet Keizer. However, Rinus Michels included him for the 1974 FIFA World Cup squad that travelled to West Germany.

The Dutch side that took part in the 1974 FIFA World Cup were the pinnacle of Total Football. Most of the 1974 team were made up of players from AFC Ajax and Feyenoord, so Rensenbrink was an outsider and was unfamiliar with playing the system. His preferred position was up front on the left, but that position was already Johan Cruijff's domain, so he played on the left-wing position in midfield, taking over from Ajax player Piet Keizer. He missed one game in the tournament (when Keizer played instead) and was only half-fit for the final after picking up an injury during the semi-final against Brazil. Rinus Michels gambled on Rensenbrink's fitness and played him from start – however he only lasted until half-time and was replaced by René van de Kerkhof. The Netherlands took an early lead through a Johan Neeskens penalty, but goals from Paul Breitner and Gerd Müller gave West Germany a 2–1 victory. Rensenbrink's performances saw him named to the team of the tournament and he was sought by Ajax as a replacement for Keizer. However, contract negotiations fell through and he remained at Anderlecht.[4]

Rensenbrink stayed in the Dutch national side during the qualifiers and finals of the 1976 European Football Championship. However, the Netherlands fell at the semi-final stage to Czechoslovakia.

In the 1978 FIFA World Cup tournament in Argentina, the Netherlands again reached the final, but this time without Cruijff (who decided to retire from international football) and under the guidance of Ernst Happel rather than Michels. Out of the shadow of Cruijff, Rensenbrink found more room to showcase his own considerable talent, playing on the left-hand side of a front three alongside Johnny Rep and René van de Kerkhof. He scored a hat-trick in the opening game against Iran, another against Scotland which was goal number 1000 in World Cup history and a penalty in the 5–1 win over Austria. In the final against Argentina, the Netherlands yet again met the hosts. In a tumultuous match, the Netherlands fell behind to a first-half Mario Kempes strike. After Dick Nanninga's equalizer 9 minutes from time, a long pass from the Dutch captain Ruud Krol in the last 30 seconds of normal time gave Rensenbrink a half-chance to score but his shot from a very narrow angle was deflected on to the post and bounced clear. Had he scored, it is likely that Holland would have won the World Cup with Rensenbrink being top goal scorer. Argentina scored twice in extra-time for a 3–1 victory and the Netherlands again had to settle for the runners-up spot.

Rensenbrink played some of the qualifiers for Euro 80, but after earning his 46th cap in 1979 (a 2–0 defeat by Poland in a qualifier for Euro 80), he retired from international football at the age of 32, having scored 14 times for his country. He along with Eusébio are the only players to score the most goals from a penalty spot in a tournament (4 in 1978).

He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. He was also named Anderlecht's greatest ever player in 2008.

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
1965–66 Door Wilskracht Sterk Eredivisie 23 5 3 0 26 5
1966–67 29 4 2 0 2 0 33 4
1967–68 34 10 3 0 2 1 39 11
1968–69 34 15 4 3 5 1 43 19
Belgium League Belgian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1969–70 Club Brugge First Division 27 10 4 3 31 13
1970–71 28 14 6 2 34 16
1971–72 Anderlecht First Division 30 16 2 0 32 16
1972–73 24 16 4 4 28 20
1973–74 29 20 2 3 31 23
1974–75 35 19 6 3 41 22
1975–76 35 23 9 8 44 31
1976–77 34 16 9 7 43 23
1977–78 24 18 7 5 31 23
1978–79 31 12 2 0 33 12
1979–80 20 3 1 0 21 3
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1980 Portland Timbers North American Soccer League 18 6 18 6
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
1981–82 Toulouse Division 2 12 1 12 1
Total Netherlands 120 34 12 3 9 2 141 39
Belgium 317 167 52 35 369 202
USA 18 6 18 6
France 12 1 12 1
Career total 467 208 12 3 61 37 540 248


Netherlands national team
Year Apps Goals
1968 3 0
1969 4 0
1970 1 0
1971 0 0
1972 0 0
1973 2 0
1974 12 4
1975 1 0
1976 6 3
1977 3 0
1978 12 7
1979 2 0
Total 46 14


File:Rob Rensenbrink (1974).jpg
Rob Rensenbrink in 1974
Club Brugge


Personal life

Rensenbrink is married and lives in Oostzaan. In summer 2015 he revealed he was diagnosed with Spinal muscular atrophy three years earlier.[7]


"If the trajectory of my shot had been five centimetres different, we would have been world champions. On top of that, I would have been crowned top scorer and perhaps chosen as the best player of the tournament – all in the same match. That's why I keep things in perspective."[8]

Mario Kempes says: "If (Rob) Rensenbrink hadn’t hit the post in the Final, he would have been the top scorer."

Jan Mulder says: "Robbie Rensenbrink was as good as Cruijff, only in his mind was he not."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Rensenbrink career stats". Football Retrieved 13 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rob Rensenbrink – International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  3. "Anderlecht vs West Ham, 1978 Cup Winner's Cup Final".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Player Profile on Robbie Rensenbrink". World Soccer, 1977.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina – Awards". Retrieved 31 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "World Cup 1978". Retrieved 29 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Rob Rensenbrink lijdt aan afgeleide van spierziekte ALS - Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch)
  8. Argentina – Netherlands – I was there at the Wayback Machine (archived March 24, 2009)

External links