Skip to main content Skip to site footer

London to Amsterdam Challenge: Dutch players who made a name in The Football League

26 December 2014

With hundreds of supporters, club employees and ex-professionals set to get in the saddle in 2015 and ride from London to Amsterdam in aid of The Football League's official charity partner Prostate Cancer UK, we take a look at some of the best Dutch talents to appear in The Football League in recent years.

In June next year the London to Amsterdam ride will see cyclists cover around 145 miles to raise money to beat prostate cancer, but who are the players to have made a name for themselves in The League after making the journey in the opposite direction?

Gerrit Keizer

Goalkeeper Keizer was the first ever Dutch player to appear in The Football League, when he signed for Herbert Chapman's Arsenal from Margate in 1930.

He played the first 12 games of the season but, after not keeping a clean sheet, signed for Charlton Athletic in July 1931, before going on to play for Queens Park Rangers as an amateur.

Keizer returned to Amsterdam in 1933 and became Ajax's number one for the next 15 years but his spell in England had a longer lasting impact than it may first appear. Following Arsenal’s signing of the Dutchman, the FA introduced a two-year residency rule to thwart foreign professional imports. This effective ban on foreign professionals remained in place until 1978 when the European Community ruled football associations could not deny access to players on the basis of their nationality.

At its summer AGM The Football League lifted its 47-year effective ban on foreigners and a new wave of imports, including Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa, Ivan Golac and Kazimierz Deyna, began to arrive on these shores.

Edgar Davids

A football icon of the 1990s, Davids won countless domestic honours with Ajax and Juventus, including the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the Champions League in 1995, and played at the 1998 World Cup in France. But, in 2012, it was announced that he would be joining League 2 Barnet as player-manager alongside Mark Robson.

He was soon in sole charge of the team after Robson's departure and, despite initially steering the Bees away from the foot of the division, they fell back into the bottom two on the final day after a defeat at Northampton Town and were subsequently relegated. He resigned from his post as manager the following January.

Davids will undoubtedly be remembered by the footballing world for his honours prior to his stint with the North London club, but he did send the team bus back up the motorway to pick up a group of stranded Barnet supporters in one of his finest moments as Bees boss.

Pierre van Hooijdonk

Van Hooijdonk had made his name as a goal machine back home in the Netherlands with RBC Roosendaal and NAC Breda, prior to a fruitful spell with Scottish giants Celtic which led to a move to then top-flight Nottingham Forest in 1997.

Although Forest suffered relegation in his first season, he pledged his future to the club to help them regain their Premier League status. The following year the front man struck up a superb partnership with Kevin Campbell and netted 34 goals in 46 appearances on their way to the First Division title, writing his name in City Ground folklore.

His outstanding performances in The Football League earned him a place in the Dutch national team for the 1998 World Cup, where he scored against South Korea.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

A powerful striker, Hasselbaink made his name in the top-flight with Chelsea but played in The Football League after joining Cardiff City in August 2007.

The Dutchman played 44 times for the Bluebirds, scoring nine goals, and appeared for them in the 2008 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

He retired a year later and focused on coaching, firstly with Championship side Nottingham Forest, before being hired as the Antwerp boss.

He departed the Belgian club at the end of 2013/14 but was then given the chance to manage in The Football League by Sky Bet League 2 outfit Burton Albion, replacing Gary Rowett in November. He has enjoyed a fine start to life at the Pirelli Stadium and his Brewers side are battling it out at the top of the division.

Arjan de Zeeuw

After starting his career with Telstar, de Zeeuw made the journey over to England to join Barnsley in 1995 and became a popular figure, making over 500 appearances in English football.

He made a name for himself with the Tykes, Wigan Athletic in two separate spells, Portsmouth and Coventry City, including playing for the Latics in the Division Two Play-Off Final in 2000 and in the 2005 League Cup, and he was also a vital member of Portsmouth's Championship-winning team of 2003.

A whole 13 years after making the trip to England, de Zeeuw returned home and became an investigative detective for the police force, specialising in forensics.

Did you know? In 2005, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair named de Zeeuw as his favourite player in an interview with Football Focus.

Royston Drenthe

A full Netherlands international, winger Drenthe first arrived in England at Everton, on loan from Real Madrid in 2011, before making a permanent move to these shores with Reading in 2013.

A La Liga title winner during his time with the Spanish giants, the 27-year-old has made a total of 24 appearances for the Royals, and is now on loan at Sheffield Wednesday until January.

George Boateng

Centre midfielder Boateng was a popular figure in English football after spells with Coventry City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Hull City before appearing in The Football League for the first time in 2011, when he joined Nottingham Forest.

His first and only goal for Forest was a memorable one against rivals Leicester City as he grabbed a last-gasp equaliser, but he made just four appearances throughout the season and departed the club in June 2012.

Advertisement block