The list of sensational footballers to emerge from the Netherlands is longer than a line to an Amsterdam coffee shop.

Van Persie, Cruyff, Robben and Bergkamp are just a few of the household names to emerge from the country and earn countless accolades in Europe’s top tier competitions.

Over the years more than 30 talented players from the clog wearing nation have found their way to Australian shores and provided fans with glimpses of the iconic style of ‘Total Football’. From the ranks we’ve compiled a list of arguably the best five Dutch players to have stints in the A-League.

5. Orlando Engelaar

Standing at 196cm tall Orlando Engelaar was a towering presence on the pitch. Prior to joining Melbourne Heart the Dutch international had acquired an impressive European football resume featuring for teams such as FC Twente, Shalke 04 and PSV Eindhoven.

Unfortunately the veteran defender’s time in the A-League was brief but brilliant. The reason he makes the list is due to the slight glimmer of hope he would provide for an absolutely woeful 2013 Melbourne Heart side. A preseason leg fracture meant that Engelaar was ruled out of the first 14 rounds however his long anticipated return would prove to be worth the wait.

His attacking presence sparked a late five game win streak for the side and few can forget his 55 metre strike against Central Coast Mariners which earned him Goal of the Year. Fans were left wondering what could have been as his performances also earned him a spot in the 2013-14 Team of the Year.

4. Roly Bonevacia

Fast, nimble and a wickedly talented dribbler, Roly Bonevacia first burst into the A-League back in 2014 when he signed for Wellington Phoenix. A product of the AFC Ajax youth academy, Bonevacia was a cut above for the Nix and earned himself a spot in the 2015-16 PFA team of the season.

His time at the Nix saw him progress from a defensive midfielder to become one of the league’s most proficient attacking players. Evasive and skillful on the ball, Bonevacia was a constant hassle for defenders but slumped slightly in form during his last season with the club.

The Dutchmen once vowed he would never leave the A-League until he had come away with silverware and his attacking prowess seems to have returned in signing for Western Sydney Wanderers.

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3. Romeo Castelen

Romeo Castelen will be forever ingrained in Wanderers folklore for his heroic hat-trick against Brisbane Roar in arguably the most thrilling semi-final of all time.

The pacey winger came to the A-League after a scattered European career in the Dutch first division and the Bundesliga. He was the first to score for the Wanderers in their fifth place playoff in the FIFA Club World Cup and netted seven goals during the regular season.

Castelen was gifted with a blistering right foot and often threatened from range with his third goal against Brisbane by far his most notable. Jamie Young punched away the cross which bounced once before falling to the feet of Castelen who buried the half volley and sent Simon Hill into a meltdown.

2. Sergio van Dijk

A prolific striker who earned the A-League golden boot for the 2010-11 season. Sergio van Dijk is technically an Indonesian national since revoking his Dutch citizenship but achieved most of his A-League accolades prior to this so it’s only fair he takes second spot.

What van Dijk lacked in pace he more than made up for in his work ethic and technicality in front of goal. We first saw him in a Brisbane Roar jersey in 2008 where he racked up 25 goals across two seasons including a monumental hat-trick performance against Sydney FC.

His return to the A-League for Adelaide United in 2010 was where he would truly make his mark scoring 17 goals across his first 30 matches for the side. The former FC Emmen striker possessed lethal finishing abilities and his 50 goals mean he currently sits as the seventh leading goal scorer in A-League history.

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  1. Patrick Zwaanswijk

Patrick Zwaanswijk was 35 when he signed for Central Coast Mariners in 2010 and was shrouded in doubt before he even touched a ball. What he did during his three seasons in a yellow and navy shirt would debunk the skeptics and ensure himself a place among the best to ever grace the A-League.

As great a mentor as he was a defender, Zwaanswijk was the pillar of Graham Arnold’s defensive unit that lost the 2011 Grand Final, won the 2012 premiership and then won the championship in 2013. He was the first to score against the Wanderers when Central Coast finally brought home the silverware and frequently features in A-League all time XI’s.

Unwavering at the back and uncompromising in the air, the towering Dutchman also boasted a powerful left foot and wasn’t afraid to push forward on the counter. A product of the Ajax youth academy, Zwaanswijk brought a whopping 300 games of Dutch first division football experience to the A-League and also helped bolster the career of Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury during their time together in the middle of defense.

As one of the A-Leagues most consistent players it’s no surprise he tops this list.

Honorable Mentions:

Leroy George

The former Dutch youth international has already put on some impressive performances for Melbourne Victory this season including this stunning left foot free kick in Gosford.

Bas Van den Brink

One of the more prominent names to feature for Gold Coast United in their inaugural season, the noble defender also played over 40 games for Perth Glory.

Jordy Bujis

The talented center back joined Sydney FC at the end of last season and is revered for his set piece strikes.

 

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Second year bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Wollongong. Aspiring Journalist, looking forward to the coming season!