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The 10 best Dutch soccer players of all time

Who is the greatest Dutch footballer of all time? It largely depends on your generation. However, for a nation of about 17 million people, the Netherlands has achieved outstanding success with the number of exceptional players they have produced over the years. From the Total Football era of the 1970s to the European champions of 1988 and the selection of great players of the 21st century, there is no shortage of options as bestsoccertips presents the top 10 best Dutch soccer players as follows.

Ranking of the best Dutch soccer players of all time

10. Robin van Persie

The former forward of Arsenal and Manchester United has seen easy goals come throughout his career, whether in the Eredivisie with Feyenoord, the Premier League – where he won the Golden Boot twice – in Turkey with Fenerbahce, or when wearing the famous Oranje jersey.

Best Dutch soccer players: Robin van Persie
Best Dutch soccer players: Robin van Persie

Van Persie has participated in 4 World Cups and 2 European Championships with his country, starting in every match on the journey to the 2010 World Cup final and leading them to the semifinals four years later, scoring a spectacular header in the 5-1 victory over Spain along the way. He remains the all-time leading goal scorer for the Netherlands, with 50 goals in 102 appearances for the national team.

9. Edwin van der Sar

Throughout his 21-year international playing career, the talented Dutch goalkeeper Van der Sar had the honor of representing his national team 130 times, crafting an impressive journey between the goalposts. Van der Sar, with his slender frame, was not only an excellent goalkeeper but also a symbol of stability and fluidity in his play. He was twice honored with the UEFA Best Goalkeeper award and won the European Championship with the Dutch national team.

Best Dutch football players: Edwin van der Sar
Best Dutch football players: Edwin van der Sar

Renowned for his stellar performances in the colors of Ajax and Manchester United, Van der Sar played a significant role in the success of these teams. He was an integral part of their major victories and contributed to building the solid reputation of both clubs.

Notably, Van der Sar takes pride in his personal record of the longest streak without conceding a goal, totaling 1,311 minutes, an impressive achievement that demands the concentration and excellent skills of a top goalkeeper.

8. Arjen Robben

Robben was unstoppable during his peak, as opposing defenses knew full well that the Dutch winger would cut inside from the right wing and unleash his deadly left-footed shot, but could do little to stop him.

Best Dutch players: Arjen Robben
Best Dutch players: Arjen Robben

The list of accolades for this winger is incredibly impressive; he scored the decisive goal in the 2013 Champions League final for Bayern Munich – one of the 20 titles he won with the Bavarians – and lifted trophies with PSV, Chelsea, and Real Madrid, as well as leading the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and a fourth-place finish four years later.

7. Frank Rijkaard

This classy midfielder was a crucial component of one of the greatest teams ever produced in European football, AC Milan’s dominant side under Arrigo Sacchi in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where he won two consecutive European Cups wearing the colors of the Netherlands, alongside his international teammates Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.

Best Dutch players of all time: Frank Rijkaard
Best Dutch players of all time: Frank Rijkaard

Rijkaard also played a significant role in the Netherlands’ only major international title when they won Euro 1988, earning a place in the tournament’s All-Star Team.

6. Johan Neeskens

Neeskens is one of the stars of the Dutch national team, often considered one of the best – if not the best – international teams never to have won a major title.

The former Ajax and Barcelona midfielder scored the opening goal in the 1974 World Cup final, but it was in one of the two consecutive finals that the Netherlands lost, first to West Germany and then to Argentina.

Best Dutch soccer players of all time: Johan Neeskens
Best Dutch soccer players of all time: Johan Neeskens

However, Neeskens had an extremely successful career, winning domestic and European titles at club level. He is remembered as one of the greatest players of all time in his position and one of the earliest box-to-box midfielders.

5. Dennis Bergkamp

The ability to score stunning goals from improbable angles made Arsenal legend Bergkamp one of the most exciting forwards to grace the Premier League and a key figure in Arsenal’s golden era at the turn of the century under Arsene Wenger.

Best Dutch soccer players: Dennis Bergkamp
Best Dutch soccer players: Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp also scored one of the greatest goals ever in the World Cup against Argentina as the Netherlands reached the semifinals in France ’98, the year he became his country’s all-time leading scorer – before being surpassed by players like Memphis Depay, Patrick Kluivert, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Van Persie.

4. Ronald Koeman

Wherever Koeman went, titles followed. A versatile player capable of playing in defense or midfield and scoring plenty of goals, the Dutchman won the European Cup with PSV before netting the decisive goal for Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ Barcelona as they defeated Sampdoria to claim European glory.

Best Dutch football players: Ronald Koeman
Best Dutch football players: Ronald Koeman

Koeman’s illustrious legacy further emphasizes his pivotal role in the national team; he secured a place in the Euro 1988 Tournament XI, leaving an indelible mark by converting a crucial penalty in the semifinals against host nation West Germany, thereby propelling the Netherlands to victory.

3. Ruud Gullit

Gullit’s distinctive curly locks could be seen all over the pitch, from defense to midfield to attack, and the 1987 Ballon d’Or winner possessed a level of versatility and elegance few players before or since have matched. Starting as a sweeper at Feyenoord, Gullit then evolved into a pivotal midfielder, before playing wide in a 3-forward formation or as a trequartista at AC Milan.

Best Dutch players: Ruud Gullit
Best Dutch players: Ruud Gullit

As a double European champion with the Italian side, he also became the first and only Dutch captain to lift a major trophy, scoring in the 2-0 victory over the Soviet Union in the Euro 1988 final.

2. Marco van Basten

Van Basten’s list of accomplishments is nothing short of remarkable: 301 goals, 3 Champions League titles, 11 domestic trophies, 1 European Championship, and 3 Ballon d’Or awards. Given the weight of those achievements, it’s truly astonishing to think that Van Basten could have achieved even more if not for the injuries that cruelly ended his career at the age of 28.

Best Dutch players of all time: Marco van Basten
Best Dutch players of all time: Marco van Basten

Renowned as a true striker endowed with an unyielding goal-scoring prowess, he posed a constant threat with his adeptness with both feet and the uncanny ability to strike from virtually any position – epitomized by his iconic acrobatic volley during the triumphant Euro 1988 final, a moment immortalized by its sheer brilliance and indisputable impact.

1. Johan Cruyff

Cruyff wasn’t just a football player; the Dutch great was a visionary whose ideas helped change the game. The Amsterdam-born player helped bring the concept of ‘Total Football’ to modern prominence, working in tandem with coach Rinus Michels, and it brought remarkable success as Cruyff secured 18 major honors, including three consecutive European Cups with Ajax from 1971 to 1973, as well as three Ballon d’Or awards.

Best Dutch soccer players: Johan Cruyff
Best Dutch soccer players: Johan Cruyff

He spearheaded a revolution at Barcelona, catalyzing the Catalan club’s triumph after a 14-year La Liga drought, all while serving as the cornerstone of arguably the greatest national team never to clinch the World Cup – the legendary Netherlands squad of 1974. Cruyff’s influence transcends his playing career, but he remains one of the greatest players ever to grace the football pitch.


Among the top players from the Netherlands, each individual stands as a great icon in football history. From the attacking prowess of Marco van Basten to the visionary creativity of Johan Cruyff, and from the historic contributions of Ruud Gullit to the talent of Dennis Bergkamp, each individual has left an indelible mark on football fans worldwide. The footballing legacy of the Netherlands is not only about achievements on the pitch but also about creativity, tactical innovation, and team spirit. With these players, Dutch football has become an integral part of history and continues to be respected and admired by the global football community.

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