Things to Know:
Overmars’ first call-up to the Netherlands senior national squad came in February 1993 for a 1994 World Cup qualifier against Turkey. He scored five minutes into his debut, after good play from Wim Jonk. The team went on to win 3–1 and Overmars said the goal was good for his confidence. Dick Advocaat, the manager of the Netherlands, was complimentary of the debutant’s performance. In April 1993, Overmars earnt the national team a penalty against England after Des Walker fouled him. Peter van Vossen converted the spot kick to complete a comeback for the Netherlands, who had been 2–0 down after 24 minutes. The national team qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in November 1993. Advocaat selected Overmars for the tournament and he featured in all of the Netherlands’ five matches. Against the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16, he took advantage of Terry Phelan’s header intended for goalkeeper Packie Bonner and sprinted away to set up Dennis Bergkamp to score. The Netherlands were eliminated in the quarter-finals against Brazil; Advocaat deployed Overmars as an extra attacker, but for much of the match he played as one of five in midfield. His corner in the 76th minute was met by Aron Winter and levelled the scores at 2–2 for a brief period – a goal from Branco resolved the match in favour of Brazil. Overmars’ performances in the competition led him to be named the best young player of the 1994 World Cup. In October 1995, he scored a hat-trick for the Netherlands in their Euro 1996 qualifier away to Malta. He was pleased with his performance – “things are getting better,” and felt he needed to practise his shooting and inward running technique. Overmars did not participate in the tournament finals as he was recuperating from his knee ligament injury. Sports writer Rob Hughes said the Netherlands draw against Scotland showed why “they sorely miss the speed and balance of Marc Overmars”. The player returned to international action for the 1998 World Cup qualifier against Wales in November 1996. He believed his best position for the national team was up front, but manager Guus Hiddink wanted him to remain as a winger. Overmars was selected in the squad for the 1998 World Cup, staged in France. Before the tournament began, he scored two goals in a friendly against Paraguay. He was on the scoresheet in the national team’s 5–0 win against South Korea in the group stage. As the tournament progressed, Overmars felt the Netherlands were “getting better and better” and believed they could win the World Cup: “Believe me, we can do it. In the past, there has been so much talk about our side and a lot of pressure with people calling us favourites. This time, nobody seemed to expect anything. In fact, people would come up to me in the street and say we were only dark horses to win.” While training before the quarter-final match against Argentina, he sustained an injury which seemingly ruled him out of contention. He did feature late into the game as a substitute, but aggravated his injury. He was subsequently forced to sit out the entire semi-final against Brazil, which the Netherlands lost on penalties. Overmars suffered a minor setback prior to Euro 2000 with a sore thigh muscle. However, he resumed training and was declared fit for the Netherlands opening match against Czech Republic, where he started on the bench. His introduction brought about the only goal of the match – a penalty scored the 89th minute. Ronald de Boer was adjudged to have had his shirt pulled whilst jumping to meet Overmars’ cross. In the quarter-finals, he scored twice in the team’s 6–1 win against Yugoslavia. The Netherlands went on to lose their semi-final to Italy on penalties. Overmars played in eight of the national team’s ten 2002 World Cup qualifiers, but it was an unsuccessful campaign as they failed to qualify for the finals. After a year’s absence from international football due to injury, Overmars was recalled to the Netherlands squad for their friendly against Portugal in April 2003. Two months later, he came on as a substitute against Belarus in a Euro 2004 qualifier and scored the opening goal of the game. He was selected for the tournament held in Portugal, and was advised by Advocaat not to train more than once a day, so that his body would resist burn out. Overmars only started three matches in Euro 2004, his final game was the Netherlands loss to Portugal in the semi-final. In all, he played in 86 games for his national side, scoring 17 goals.