Football has been the most important sport in The Netherlands for over 125 years now. Sparta Rotterdam, the oldest club in Dutch football, was founded back in 1888, but it all took off years later in 1956 when the Dutch FA (The KNVB) started a professional football league. The Dutch became famous for their attacking style of play and 'total football' later on and a lot of creative players went to other countries to play football for bigger teams. The domestic league has been the home of promising Dutch footballers for over 60 years now and famous players like Johan Cruijff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and Arjen Robben played their first matches on a professional level in the Eredivisie. Three teams have taken center stage in terms of trophies (54 out of 60 league titles), and this domination shows no signs of abating as other clubs can't seem to close the gap with Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.
Ajax: Youth academy resulted in trophies
Ajax is traditionally the biggest club in The Netherlands. The Amsterdam team is famous for their successful youth academy, but more importantly their achievements. Ajax is one of the few teams in Europe that can claim to have won the Champions League, the Cup Winners' Cup and the UEFA Cup. The 1970s saw the brilliant Ajax conquer Europe with their attacking style of play, eventually securing three European Cups (1971, 1972 and 1973), but that wasn't all. The Amsterdam outfit have continued to challenge for titles over the years and lifted the Champions League trophy in 1995. World stars like Johan Cruijff, Johan Neeskens, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank de Boer and Wesley Sneijder all started in the youth academy and these youngsters full of quality and creativity have been crucial to the success of Dutch football. Ajax have won 25 Eredivisie titles thus far and certainly look like adding to that total. The Amsterdam Arena is one of the biggest Stadiums in The Netherlands and the budget is there to buy the best players as well. That said, Ajax will always put emphasis on their youth academyas this has been a successful strategy in the past.
PSV Eindhoven: Quality from the south
PSV Eindhoven didn’t push for the trophies at all during the first years of Dutch professional football, but they sure made an impact later on. The team from the south collected their first Eredivisie title back in 1963, but the fans had to wait some time celebrate again. Things came together for them after 1985 when PSV collected six titles in seven years and the European Cup win in 1988. Eindhoven is still the smallest city in Europe that has produced a European Cup winning team and that's something to be proud of for the fans. PSV Eindhoven have been a top 3 challenger since 1982. They finished fourth in 2009 and 2014, but the other seasons all resulted in a top three finish. PSV Eindhoven's stadium isn't as big as the Amsterdam Arena (Ajax) or the De Kuip Stadium (Feyenoord), but they sure know how to focus on achievements in Eindhoven. The club is famous for buying the right players at the right time and these players like Romario, Ronaldo, Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooij and Arjen Robben have helped drive them to success.
Feyenoord: The club of the working class
The Rotterdam team was the first Dutch to lift the European Cup back in 1970 and also the last. They managed to win the UEFA Cup in 2002, which was the most recent Dutch success in Europe. This club is famous for its mentality and work rate. The fans are called the 'Dock Workers' and the team tends to play with the same work ethic as its supporters. Dutch internationals like Willem van Hanegem, Coen Moulijn, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Pierre van Hooijdonk were successful in Rotterdam and remembered for their spirit and work rate. Although there has been success over the years, Feyenoord winning 9 titles to date, the wait for another league victory has been going on since 1999. Financial problems since the start of the new millennium have hampered the club, but it seems that they are now behind the Rotterdam club. Although not as successful as Ajax and PSV, with a stable club and the most passionate fans in The Netherlands, the potential is definitely there to push for glory again.
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