Patrick Kluivert: Dazzling Dutchman

Patrick Kluivert: Dazzling Dutchman

Player Profile: Patrick Kluivert

Date of Birth: 1/7/1976 

Height: 6 ft 2 in

Position: Striker

National Team: The Netherlands

International Caps: 79

International Goals: 40

Club Career

Part of Ajax’s famous Golden Generation of the 90s, Patrick Kluivert won league titles in Holland and Spain and scored the winner in the UEFA Champions League Final in 1995.

Born in Amsterdam, Kluivert spent his childhood playing football on the streets. After just a year at amateur youth team Schellingwoude, he joined the famous Ajax academy aged 7. He spent ten years at the club’s academy playing in several positions before settling as a striker. Kluivert had ridiculous technique, pace to burn and an unbelievable footballing brain.

Before making his first-team debut at the age of 18, Kluivert represented the Netherlands at under 15, under 16 and under 17 level. He was a hot prospect and lived up to the type.

Kluivert’s first senior appearance for Ajax came in their 1994 Super Cup win over fierce rivals Feyenoord. During which the teenager scored his first goal for the club and instantly became a fan favourite. He went on to score 18 Eredivisie goals in 25 appearances that season as Ajax secured the league title without losing a game. Kluivert also made his mark in Europe.

In the 1995 Champions League Final against AC Milan, with the scores level, Kluivert was introduced to the game from the bench and he made a huge impact scoring the winning goal in the 85th minute. In doing so, he became the youngest player ever to score in a European final.

Kluivert once again top scored the following season as Ajax won a staggering five trophies, successfully defending their Eredivisie title. The teenager bagged the winning goal in extra time to clinch the Dutch Super Cup against rivals Feyenoord at the start of the season along with a goal in club’s 5-1 aggregate win over Real Zaragoza in the UEFA Super Cup.

Ajax won the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo on penalties despite Kluivert missing his spot-kick. Back in Europe, Ajax, and Kluivert, were unstoppable once again reaching the final of the Champions League. But hopes of retaining their crown were denied by the Old Lady, with Juventus winning on penalties. Kluivert missed the game due to a knee injury and proved to be a significant loss for his side.

The 1996/97 campaign proved to be one of frustration for Kluivert who was now 20. He missed the majority of the season through injury, managing just 17 league appearances with a return of six goals. Despite a lack of game time Ajax still offered Kluivert a new contract, but he controversially rejected the offer and instead joined AC Milan on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Kluivert’s time in Italy was brief and rather unsuccessful. He scored just six goals in 27 Serie A matches, which by his standards was poor, very poor, as the Rossoneri finished 10th. That turned out to be his only season at the San Siro.

On the final day of the 1998 transfer window, the Dutchman penned a four-year contract with Barcelona for a fee of £8.5 million. Kluivert was reunited with Louis van Gaal after working together at Ajax and once again under his guidance he was back to his best. In his debut season in Spain Kluivert scored 16 league goals in 35 appearances. His flourishing partnership with Brazilian Rivaldo also helped Barca defend their La Liga title.

Kluivert continued bagging goals for fun during the 1999/2000 campaign. He finished the season as Barca’s top scorer with 15 league goals however it wasn’t enough to secure a hat-trick of La Liga titles. This would be the start of a five-year trophy drought for the Catalans. Kluivert finished as the club’s top scorer in two of the next four seasons, but it wasn’t enough to earn a new contract.

In the summer of 2004, Kluivert was released by Barcelona after six years at the club, during which he averaged a goal every other game. Following his Nou Camp departure, he wasn’t stuck for options. Eventually, he decided on a move to the Premier League and Newcastle, where he was keen to play alongside Alan Shearer.

The Dutchman scored some crucial goals for the Magpies including FA Cup winners against Chelsea and Tottenham. He also bagged five goals in Europe as Newcastle reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. Overall Kluivert scored 13 goals in all competitions but was surprisingly released in the summer of 2005. 

Kluivert soon returned to Spain where he signed for Valencia. Injuries limited him to just 202 minutes of football all season. As a result, his contract was terminated at the end of the campaign. Now, aged 30, Kluivert made a sensational move back to Holland, but not to Ajax like many presumed. Instead, he signed a one year contract at rivals PSV, but once again game time was limited due to injuries. Throughout the season Kluivert made 16 league appearances scoring just three goals. One of which was against his boyhood side Ajax. A goal he refused to celebrate. 

The striker was released from PSV in July 2007 and later that month signed for French club Lille. He made 14 appearances in all competitions scoring four goals before announcing his retirement. Overall Kluivert made 468 appearances in all competitions scoring 205 goals. 

International Career 

Patrick Kluivert made his Netherlands debut in 1994 aged 18. In his second appearance for his country, in a European qualifier against Malta, he scored his first international goal seven minutes after coming on as a substitute.

After glimpses of quality at Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup, Kluivert turned on the style at Euro 2000, which was co-hosted by Holland and Belgium. He spearheaded one of the greatest Dutch sides in generations and finished the tournament with five goals in as many games helping him secure the Golden Boot along with Savo Milosevic. Despite Kluivert’s heroics in front of goal, it wasn’t enough as Holland crashed out of their own tournament in the semi-finals, losing on penalties to Italy. 

Four years later Holland and Kluivert once again suffered heartache in the semi-finals of the Euros. This would prove to be his final international tournament with ongoing injuries limiting his game time in the coming years. Kluivert scored 40 goals in 79 appearances for Holland, which at the time made him their all-time leading goal scorer. That was later surpassed by Robin van Persie in 2013.

Where is Patrick Kluivert now?

In 2008 Kluivert joined the AZ backroom staff where he was tasked with coaching the club’s strikers. Over the next five years, Kluivert took up numerous coaching roles including assistant manager role at Brisbane Roar in Australia, FC Twente youth team manager and assistant coach at NEC. 

In 2012 Kluivert once again linked up with Louis van Gaal as part of the national team’s coaching staff. He spent two years in the role which ended with a famous third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup. After leaving the Dutch coaching staff, Kluivert took up the role of head coach of Curaçao, the birthplace of his mother. There he helped the country achieve its best performance yet in World Cup qualification.

Kluivert enjoyed coaching roles at Ajax and PSG before joining former teammate Clarence Seedorf as Cameroon’s assistant manager. Unfortunately, the duo was sacked in July 2019, and within weeks Kluivert had a new role as Barcelona’s academy director.

Did you know?

– Patrick Kluivert’s Dad, Kenneth, was a professional footballer too. Playing for SV Robinhood. And his son Justin now plays for AS Roma after graduating from the Ajax academy

– He was named in the Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament.