A football fanatic living in Amsterdam.
There are some clear memories of my early footballing experiences in the 90s. An addiction to slide tackles, a love of Manchester United, an obsession with David Beckham’s curtains and a strange exposure to Dutch football…
I can vividly remember playing football with young Dutch kids every summer on holiday camps in France. One of the first games I attended aged 5 (I think) was a pre-season friendly between Ajax and Manchester United. With relatively little broadcast football in comparison to today, I remember being fascinated by the strange bright orange shirts of the Dutch football team on the TV during Euro 96 and World Cup 98.
And here’s the thing. After many years of playing, watching, writing and reading about football, I’ve noticed something. In Britain, the modern football fan doesn’t actually know that much about Dutch football. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s even much interest at all.
We love teams and managers past and present defined by a ‘Total Football’ style of pass and move play, built by its connoisseur Johan Cruyff and Ajax. We fondly recall famous moments from the Dutch national team – think Van Basten’s volley, Van Persie’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ header or Jaap Stam’s penalty that is probably still stuck in orbit. We can easily list off World Class Dutch players who have sparkled down the years in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.
Yet, ask British football fans today if they’re really that bothered about Dutch football and I reckon I can guess the answer.
That’s where The Oranje comes in – a homage to Dutch football that will hopefully get people excited once more about one of the spiritual homes of ‘The Beautiful Game.’
I hope you enjoy it.