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Van Basten

We Look At The Dutch Legend

Posted Jan 26, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Van Basten retired too young

Through such legends as Dennis Bergkamp and Giovanni van Bronckhorst, the Premier League (and Arsenal fans) have regularly been gifted the ability to experience first hand the magic that so often comes from Dutch players playing at the top of their game.  However, one of the most magnificent unfortunately never plied their trade in England: the masterful Marco Van Basten.

If goals are the measure of any great striker, then Van Basten did his job time and time again.  Over the course of what was an unfortunately short career cut short by injury, Van Basten scored 218 goals in just 280 appearances at the highest level for both Ajax and AC Milan, as well as averaging a little under a goal in every two games for his native Netherlands.

Just like modern players such as Rooney and Messi, though, Van Basten’s ability went far beyond his ability to simply put the ball in the net.  So recognised as he was for his class and ability, he was three times awarded the European player of the year award, and received the Ballon d’Or award for world player of the year in 1992.

If any tournament best summed up Van Basten’s magnificent skill, though, it was the 1988 European championships.  Scoring five goals (including a  hat-trick against England and a superlative volley in the final match against the Soviet Union), Van Basten was the top scorer in a tournament where no other player managed to hit the back of the net more than twice.

Sometimes, though, magnificence can be cut short for one reason or another, and it’s a great shame that Van Basten was forced to retire at the age of thirty due to a repetitive ankle injury.  Though he won most of the game’s competitive honours including the European cup on two occasions, Van Basten was never able to score in a world cup finals tournament.

In the end, the fact that he is still so revered speaks wonders for the natural ability and flair that one of the greatest players in European history was able to display in a career that burned like the sun, if all too briefly.

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