Rinus Israel, the best defender ever according to Henk Spaan, thinks that the Orange can go far at the football world championship in Qatar. “They are all good players and a very good coach.” He himself was present at the legendary 1974 World Cup in Germany when we lost the final 2-1 to the host country. There they enchanted the world with beautiful attacking football.
Rinus Israel (80) played professional football until he was forty. His name is eternally linked to Feyenoord – and as a born and raised Amsterdammer – with whom he achieved great successes, both nationally and internationally. With stars like Willem van Hanegem and Coen Moelijn. In 1970, the European Cup 1, the World Cup and in 1974 the Uefa Cup.
He played 47 international matches and most recently at the legendary 1974 World Cup in Germany. He came on as a substitute in three games, but ultimately not in the final. “It was already very nice that I was there, because I had only recently recovered from a serious injury.” Moreover, the competition was fierce with Arie Haan and Johan Neeskens.
Football still follows Rinus closely. Every week he joins Leo Driessen’s sports program on NH Radio. In his hometown of Landsmeer, he visits the bicycle shop every day for coffee and a football chat with the owner, who is a Feyenoord fan.
Nowadays expectations are high when the Dutch national team goes to a World Cup. But that was not the case at all in 1974. Rinus: “There were no expectations because we didn’t really know what a World Cup entailed. That realization that it was something important only came when we were against Germany in the final.” World Cup matches were not a tradition for the Orange at that time, because the Netherlands had only played one match twice at a World Cup in the thirties.
Rinus Israel looks back on the 1974 World Cup with mixed feelings. Not only because he was not a basic player in coach Rinus Michels’ team and had to make do with a few raids. “A week before we were to go to the World Cup in Germany, my father died completely suddenly, of a heart attack,” he says. “I then discussed it at home whether I should go. But my mother and sister thought I should go. The funeral was on the day the team traveled.” His father was only 68 years old and the biggest fan of his footballing son. “He always came to see.”
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Rinus has not had any regrets about going to the World Cup. “Of course it was very sad, but because of that football you were not busy all the time. It also gave a distraction.” If the Netherlands had become world champions, Rinus would have won all major football prizes. “That would have been wonderful, of course, but I’m not dissatisfied now either.”
In 1974 Johan Cruijff was the absolute world star. Rinus does not see such a footballer walking around in Louis van Gaal’s selection. “I am very charmed by Frenkie de Jong and his very nice way of playing.” Perhaps Virgil van Dijk can fulfill the role of leader properly.
Rinus has already predicted the result for tomorrow’s first match against Senegal. “2-1 for the Orange, a good start.”