Netherlands national football team

World Cup Participation

1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2022



Netherlands National Football Team History

Early Years

It took the Netherlands national football team just one match to win their first ever trophy. They drew with Belgium 1-1 in the 1905 Coupe van den Abeele, but won in extra time as Eddy de Neve scored a hat trick.

The Oranje participated in their first official tournament a few years later, at the 1908 Summer Olympics. The Netherlands won the bronze medal in London by defeating Sweden 2-0 in the third place game. They also won bronze in 1912 and 1920 and made the first Netherlands World Cup appearance in 1934.

Kick Smit was the first Dutch goalscorer in a World Cup, but the Oranje were eliminated in the opening round in both 1934 and 1938. The team ceased to be relevant until the rise of Dutch total football in the 1970’s.

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Netherlands National Football Team Records

Total football was a creation of Dutch club Ajax and it was perfected by attacking midfielder Johan Cruyff and adopted by national team coach Rinus Michels. It involved a sort of positionless soccer in which any player could take the position of another teammate during the course of the game.

Playing their unique style in their iconic orange kits, the Netherlands national football team beat Brazil and Argentina in the 1974 World Cup en route to making the final. In what would become a big rivalry, West Germany beat the Oranje 1-0 in the final. In their first ever European Championship appearance in 1976, the Dutch finished in third place.

The Netherlands national football team were without Johan Cruyff at the 1978 World Cup due to a kidnapping attempt but still managed to make the final vs. hosts Argentina. Tied 1-1 in normal time, Argentina scored two goals in extra time to send the Dutch packing in the final for a second straight World Cup.

After the total football era ended in 1980, the Netherlands missed three straight major international tournaments from 1982-1986.

European Glory and Recent Times

Michels returned to coach the team at Euro 88. Striker Marco van Basten finished as top scorer and the Netherlands managed to win their first ever major international tournament as they beat rivals West Germany in the semis and the USSR in the final with goals from Ruud Gullit and Van Basten.

Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp made a name for himself at Euro 92 as the Oranje reached the semifinal. Bergkamp led the Netherlands with three goals at the 1994 World Cup in the USA but they fell to Brazil 3-2 in the quarterfinal.

The Oranje had a string of bad luck in penalties as they were eliminated from all of Euro 1996, the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 in shootouts. In the lead up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Netherlands won all eight of their qualifying matches and came in as one of the favorites in the tournament. Bert van Marwijk’s squad made their first World Cup final since 1978, but Andres Iniesta broke Dutch hearts as he scored the game’s only goal to give Spain their first World Cup win.

The Netherlands were ranked first in FIFA’s World rankings in late 2011. The Oranje then avenged their loss to Spain in the 2014 World Cup as Robin van Persie scored a famous diving header in a 5-1 win. The Netherlands would go on to make the semifinal, where they were eliminated by Argentina on penalty kicks.

Then, the Oranje missed out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup and cycled through six coaches in as many years. They did come in third in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019, though.

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