Barring their glorious European Championship victory in 1988, the Dutch national side have proved themselves to be masters of even more glorious failure going back to the 1970’s and the halcyon days of Johann Cruyff and friends.
After bombing out at the World Cup in 1990 when considered one of the favourites and then being dumped out of the semi-finals of Euro ’92 on penalties by shock winners Denmark, Holland’s second golden generation of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman were beginning to look like world football’s great underachievers.
The USA ’94 World Cup was the crossover point of that superb group of players – who by now were beginning to pass their 30th birthdays (superstar striker Van Basten had practically retired through injury) – and the new up-and-coming stars like Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Edwin van der Sar and the De Boer brothers, Frank and Ronald.
The Dutch had changed from Adidas to Italian manufacturer Lotto before Euro ’92 and continued to the USA wearing this iconic orange shirt with the Netherlands’ red, white and blue trim on the collar and sleeves.
Having made it out of the group stages and then eased past the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16, Holland were paired with competition favourites Brazil in the quarter-final.
In one of the games of the tournament, a see-saw second half saw Holland come back from two goals down and on the verge of extra time. Sadly for coach Dick Advocaat, Brazilian Branco struck the late winner and once again condemned the Dutch to be labelled as the nearly men of international football.
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