Memories of football icon Kees Rijvers: family man who keeps watch

The football world lost a football icon on Monday in Kees Rijvers. Rijvers was successful as a player, trainer and national coach. But he was also a real family man with an eagle eye for football talent. “He was like a second father to my brother René and me,” says Willy van de Kerkhof.

The football talents of football players René and Willy van de Kerkhof were in good hands with trainer Kees Rijvers. The brothers had to deal with Rijvers at both FC Twente and PSV. He made no secret of the fact that he wanted his players to get married and have children quickly. Willy: “That provided security and peace in our families. That was typical Rijvers. He was a father to all his players.” René and Willy’s father died when the brothers were five years old. “Rijvers took over that role and became our second father.”

“You could contact him day and night. He was a father to all his players.”

Willy thought Rijvers was a great trainer. “Not strict, but he did have a certain vision of the game. That’s how we are going to play today. There was no bargaining. You could contact him day and night.”

According to Willy, the story goes in the football world that Rijvers, when he was a trainer at FC Twente, spent half the night spying in the street of Epi Drost. “He liked a beer the day before a competition match. He wanted to catch the player in his car, but Epi did not come home and slept somewhere else.”

Contact with Rijvers has diminished in recent years. “We often invited him to our business lounge in the PSV stadium, but he never came. That was a shame. I’m glad he is still 97 years old.”

“He did not doubt his opinion and did not avoid conflict.”

A good trainer with an eye for talent, says former trainer Aad de Mos about Kees Rijvers. “He saw qualities in unknown players. He was rarely wrong. He also discovered players who he could make even better.” When he was PSV coach, De Mos regularly called on Kees Rijvers for help. “I invited him to double-check certain players. He assessed many players positively.”

De Mos saw Rijvers play football at NAC and Feyenoord as a child. “He belonged to the golden indoor trio: Wilkens, Lenstra and Rijvers.”

De Mos didn’t just think Rijvers was a trainer people manager. “He was a tactician, but he was also headstrong. He did not doubt his opinion and did not avoid conflict.” In recent years, Rijvers was not often found in Eindhoven. “But when he was there, he always bought fries at Zwerts on the Boschdijk.”

“He was small, but he pretended to be 10 feet tall.”

Ernie Brandts thought Kees Rijvers was a brave and tough trainer. “He was small in stature but pretended to be three meters tall. He had charisma,” says Brandts. The former defender says that he owes a lot to Kees Rijvers. “He brought me from De Graafschap to PSV and introduced me to the football world. At that time, PSV conceded a lot of goals. I had to prevent that.”

Brandts describes Rijvers as one of the best trainers. “A great man. He could give players self-confidence and reassure them. But he could also be fierce, especially if you did not keep to the agreements on the field. On the other hand, he also liked a family atmosphere. He often asked how things were going at home. he also thought that was important.”


Football icon Kees Rijvers has died at the age of 97

On social media, the football world reflects on the death of Kees Rijvers:

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