Proud of my achievements: Johan Neeskens

Johan Neeskens

Johan Neeskens | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

To be named as one of the players in Pele’s list of greatest living footballers is no mean achievement. Johan Neeskens, a key player in Rinus Michel’s famous Dutch side of the 1970s, is proud of what he achieved in his distinguished career. The scorer of the fastest goal in a World Cup final, the 70-year-old Neeskens is now enjoying his role as a mentor and as a coach’s educator. 

“I am proud of what I achieved as a player. I played in two World Cups finals and scored the fastest goal in a World Cup final. We were a bit unfortunate that we played against the home teams (Germany and Argentina) in both finals,” said Neeskens.

Playing in two finals was huge for a small nation like Holland

“The home team always had the advantage and support of the fans. But for a small nation like Holland to play in two finals was huge. We played against some very good teams and earned their respect.

“I was very young at that time and I did what the coaches told me. Of course, I had the skills too. Looking back I don’t have any regrets and now I am fully engaged in coaching and teaching coaches for the last 10 years. I think coaching has some social aspects as well. The role of the coach doesn’t stop with coaching, as he can play an important role in the holistic development of his ward,’’ he said.

The former Barcelona star refused to draw comparisons with different eras, saying the total football which the Dutch side played in the 1970s was a revelation then but it has become absolutely irrelevant and outdated now.

“In the 70s when I played, there was a lot of space for us to roam freely as the teams didn’t think of putting pressure on the opposition by covering the spaces and attacking from smaller distances. But football has changed with the use of technology and advancement of sports medicine and sciences.

“Now a whole training session can be chalked out on the computer. The coaches are better updated on different formats and they have more tools to do their work better. The players have become fitter and stronger. There can be no comparison between football that was played in the 70s and now,’’ he said.

Difficult to pick a favourite for this year’s World Cup

Neeskens said it will be difficult for him to pick a favourite for this year’s World Cup and he is not happy that key players from the Netherlands are not getting enough game time at their clubs.

“I think it will be an open World Cup. There are so many good teams. I don’t want to pick anyone as the favourite. What I want to see is good attacking football in the World Cup.

“The Netherlands certainly has a good side but I am not happy that some of its key players are spending more time on the bench for their clubs. They will find it difficult against players who have spent more time in the middle,’‘ he said.

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2022 7:14:11 pm |