January 09, 2017
Now that the European Championship is just a day away, we found ourselves wondering about the best vans to have graced the final tournament.
After much deliberation (and a couple of disagreements), we’ve finally decided on our five, and here they are!
Kicking things off is former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie. The striker is the Netherlands’ record goalscorer, with 50 goals in 100 caps. Van Persie appeared at both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 for the Netherlands.
In qualifying for Euro 2008, Van Persie was the top scoring Dutch player with four goals and bagged another two at the finals in group games against France and Romania. During Euro 2012 qualifying, the Dutchman scored four goals in one game – an 11-0 defeat of minnows San Marino, after which he entered the Netherlands top 10 all-time goal scorers list with 25 goals, surpassing Dutch legend Marco van Basten.
Edwin van der Saar played 130 times – a national record – for the Netherlands in an international career spanning 13 years and 6 major tournaments. In fact, Van der Saar failed to qualify for just a single international tournament during his career – World Cup 2002.
Van der Saar suffered the ignominy of a semi-final defeat in Amsterdam at Euro 2000 as the hosts lost a penalty shootout to Italy. The 6’5 ½” goalkeeper moved to England in 2001, to join Fulham. After spending four years at Craven Cottage he moved on to Manchester United where he would enjoy great success. For his country, he saved a penalty during a quarter-final shootout at Euro 2004 against Sweden which earned the Dutch a 5-4 victory. At Euro 2008, he was named in the team of the tournament.
Next is the Netherlands’ all-time top scorer at European Championship finals, Ruud van Nistelrooy. The striker is well-known to English supporters having spent five years at Manchester United, scoring over 100 goals in all competitions.
Van Nistelrooy appeared at two European Championship finals for the Netherlands, Euro 2004 and 2008. At the former, Van Nistelrooy scored in each of his country’s group games as well as a penalty in a quarter-final shootout against Sweden as they progressed to the semi-finals. The striker was unable to score against hosts Portugal as the Netherlands lost 2-1. Similar disappointment followed in 2008 as the Netherlands lost in the quarter-finals against Russia despite Van Nistelrooy’s late equaliser.
At number two is another goalkeeper, and one that many younger fans may not have heard of. It’s Hans van Breukelen, the Netherlands’ European Championship winning keeper from 1988. Older football fans may remember a stint at Nottingham Forest in the early 80’s, for whom he replaced Peter Shilton and played over 60 games.
Euro 1988 was Van Breukelen’s first major international tournament after failing to qualify for Euro 1984 and the World Cup in both 1982 and 1986. The goalkeeper was dropped during qualifying but was quickly reinstated and conceded only one goal in eight matches. Van Breukelen claims that beating Germany in the semi-finals of the tournament “meant more to the Netherlands than reaching the final”, which they went on to win despite Van Breukelen conceding a penalty. The keeper picked himself up, dusted himself off, saved the subsequent penalty and was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Undoubtedly the best ‘van’ to have ever graced a European Championship finals tournament is the Netherlands’ Marco van Basten. In 1988, he finished as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, including a hat-trick against England and the winning goal in the semi-final against arch-rivals Germany. This was followed by what is widely regarded as the best ever goal scored at a European finals tournament, a spectacular volley from a seemingly impossible angle as the Netherlands won the final against the Soviet Union. Van Basten was subsequently named player of the tournament.
After 128 goals in 133 games for Ajax and 90 goals in 147 games for Milan his career ended early due to injury. Former manager Fabio Capello had this to say of the forward: “Marco was the greatest striker I ever coached. His early retirement was a mortal misfortune for him, for football, and for Milan.”
So there you have it, the five best vans to have graced the European Championship. If you’re interested in a real van, check out our range – we have many in stock and ready to go! Call now 0845 021 0444 or enquire online!