Patrick Stephan Kluivert is a former Dutch footballer. He played as a striker, most notably for AFC Ajax, FC Barcelona and the Netherlands national football team. He was already part of Ajax’s Golden Generation of the 1990s at the age of 18, scoring the winner in the 1995 UEFA Champions League Final. He spent six years with Spanish club Barcelona where he formed a successful partnership with Rivaldo, where both won the Spanish La Liga championship of 1999 and Kluivert scored 124 goals from 249 appearances in all. Kluivert played for the Dutch national team from 1994 to 2004. With 40 goals in 79 appearances, he is the third highest top goalscorer for Oranje. He played in three European Championships and the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and was joint top scorer at Euro 2000 where upon the scoresheet he tallied a total of 5 times. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers chosen by Pelé as part of FIFA’s centenary observances. He began his coaching career as an assistant at AZ and then NEC. He had a brief coaching stint in Australia with the Brisbane Roar, before coaching Jong FC Twente to a national title in the Dutch reserves league. He was assistant manager to Louis van Gaal with the Netherlands national football team when they finished third at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In 2015, he took over as head coach of the Curaçao national team for the country’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying and the 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying campaigns. In 2016, it was announced that he would take over the Ajax A1 (under-19) selection, coaching his son, Justin Kluivert, before taking a position as director of football for Paris Saint-Germain.
Netherlands vs Italy
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Kluivert made his full international debut on 16 November 1994 in a European qualifier against the Czech Republic, replacing Youri Mulder after 13 minutes of a 0–0 draw in Rotterdam. In his second match, on 29 March 1995, he replaced Ronald de Boer after 77 minutes, and seven minutes later scored his first international goal to wrap up a 4–0 home qualifying win over Malta. In December 1995, Kluivert scored both goals in the Netherlands’ 2–0 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying play-off win over Ireland at Anfield, to qualify the Oranje for UEFA Euro 1996. Kluivert missed most of the tournament with a knee injury but he scored against host nation England, to enable the Netherlands to qualify for the knock-out round over Scotland on goal difference. There, they lost in a penalty shootout to France. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Kluivert was sent off against Belgium by referee Pierluigi Collina after elbowing Lorenzo Staelens. He made amends when selected to play against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the same tournament where he scored the opening goal. He also impressed in later matches, scoring a late equalising goal from a header to draw his team level with Brazil in the semi-final, although Holland went on to lose the penalty shootout. The UEFA Euro 2000 would represent Kluivert’s finest hour as the spearhead of a star-studded Oranje side. Kluivert scored a hat-trick in the 6–1 quarter-final demolition of Yugoslavia; he was originally credited with four goals, but the third was later re-attributed as an own goal by Yugoslavia’s Dejan Govedarica after Kluivert admitted not getting a touch on Paul Bosvelt’s cross. Had all four goals stood, Kluivert would have been the first player to score four times in a European Championship finals match. The semi-final against Italy would provide much heartache for Kluivert, as the Dutch yet again crashed out on penalties. Neither Kluivert nor his Dutch side could find the back of the net, despite twice having a chance from the penalty spot – Kluivert himself would miss one of those penalties during the game, but did score in the penalty shoot-out. Despite the Dutch falling short, Kluivert will be remembered for rising to the occasion in front of partisan home crowds, scoring five goals in as many games, jointly claiming the Golden Boot with Savo Milošević. Kluivert would once again enter UEFA Euro 2004 wearing the famous #9 jersey for his country with the Dutch reaching the semifinals of the tournament. As well as from being left out of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad by coach Marco van Basten, Kluivert was not called up to play in any of the qualifying games leading up to the World Cup either. This was due to the fact that he suffered persistent injuries which prevented him from playing for his club during the 2005-06 season. Kluivert was the all-time leading goalscorer for the Dutch national team with 40 goals, until he was surpassed by Robin van Persie in 2013.
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Italy vs Netherlands of Euro 2000 is definitely one of the most memorable football games of the last 30 years. The Netherlands were eliminated on penalties for the fourth time in five major tournaments as Italy advanced to a UEFA EURO 2000 final against France. Frank de Boer and Patrick Kluivert had already missed spot kicks in normal time as the Oranje failed to break down an Azzurri team reduced to ten men after the 34th-minute dismissal of Gianluca Zambrotta. Italy scored the first three penalties in the shoot-out through Luigi Di Biagio, Gianluca Pessotto and Francesco Totti, while De Boer and Jaap Stam both missed for the Netherlands. Kluivert scored and Paolo Maldini missed to restore Oranje hopes, but man of the match Francesco Toldo saved Paul Bosvelt’s kick to confirm Italy as 3-1 winners. Dino Zoff made two changes to the formula that provided quarter-final victory against Romania, with Di Biagio replacing the injured Antonio Conte and Totti making way for Alessandro Del Piero. Injury also forced counterpart Frank Rijkaard to make one switch, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst replacing Artur Numan at left-back. The Netherlands served notice of their attacking threat as early as the third minute when Dennis Bergkamp’s lob put Phillip Cocu through on goal, but he could only prod over. Bergkamp struck the post after letting fly from the right. It was looking good for the Oranje, even better when Zambrotta received a second yellow card and then, four minutes later, a final place seemed theirs for the taking when Alessandro Nesta held back Kluivert. Toldo dived to his left to divert De Boer’s penalty behind, however – a sign of things to come. Despite their numerical inferiority, Italy adopted a bolder approach as Stefano Fiore and Del Piero both had sighters at goal and the Netherlands were finding it hard to impose their rhythm. They could not fail to make use of the space afforded them, though, and another fine passing move concluded with Edgar Davids going down under Iuliano’s challenge. Kluivert hit the post from the resulting penalty and despite constant pressure, hopeful efforts from Van Bronckhorst, Marc Overmars and substitute Clarence Seedorf were all they could muster as the tie drifted into extra time. They were almost hit by a golden goal sucker punch, and it needed sharp reactions from Van Der Sar to deny Marco Delvecchio with his feet. By then Aron Winter had entered the fray for a Dutch record 84th cap – this would not be a momentous day for the Netherlands, though.
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Although tall in stature, Kluivert possessed a remarkably impressive ‘first touch’ and quick feet for such a large striker. Similar to Brazilian footballer Ronaldo, he often used several feints, namely the Cruijff Turn, to great effect to go past defenders, due to his pace, strong technical skills and football intelligence. Kluivert also utilised his height, power, and strong physique to dominate aerial balls and was considered to possess one of the best headers in the then-contemporary game. A versatile player, he was capable of playing in several other positions across the pitch. Despite his ability, he drew criticism for his character and attitude throughout his career.
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On 28 August 1998, an hour before the transfer deadline, Kluivert signed a four-year contract with FC Barcelona for a fee of £8.75 million. Kluivert was reunited with Louis van Gaal, a mentor from his days at Ajax. Kluivert scored 16 league goals and formed a successful partnership with Rivaldo, which enabled Barça to defend the Spanish La Liga in 1998–99. The following season was also a successful one for Kluivert. Although Barcelona failed to win a third consecutive league title, Kluivert finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 15 league goals. Kluivert went on to top score twice more in his next four seasons at Camp Nou but the team completed a period of five years without a major trophy after their title success in 1999. In the summer of 2004, Kluivert was one of four Dutch players released by Barcelona. He ended his career at Barça with 124 goals from 249 appearances. In 2016, the Dutchman once again featured for Barca in a legends game against Uganda all stars where he, in lobbing the ball, scored an amazing goal.