Frank Rijkaard (1962) Dutch football player

Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard is one of Holland's most successful football players, the archetypal of a modern midfielder. Being an outstanding defensive playmaker, Rijkaard had a genial understanding with his teammates Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. With the latter he has also his Suriname roots in common. He is considered the third best Dutch player of all time, together with Gullit behind Cruijff and Van Basten.

Rijkaard was an exponent of the Ajax football school. As a young player, he already won three Dutch titles at Ajax during his first spell at the club between 1980 and 1987, as well as three Dutch Cups and the European Cup Winners' Cup. In all his naivity he then signed a contract at rivals PSV when they promised him some expensive Philips gear. After admitting his mistake, he fled Dutch football for Sporting Portugal (Lisbon) and Real Zaragoza. Rijkaard was never happy here.

AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi rescued Frank Rijkaard from his Spanish misery shortly after the midfielder assisted the orange Dutch national team lift the 1988 European Championship trophy. With his arrival the ideal Sacchi set up was completed - Gullit provided the flair, Van Basten the goals and Rijkaard the strength. For the next two seasons AC Milan would be the strongest team in Europe, winning two successive European Cups, European Super Cups and Intercontinental Championships. Rijkaard scored the winning goal against Benfica in the 1990 European Cup final.

With all this in mind, the Dutch fancied their chances in the 1990 World Cup. But Rijkaard cum suis crashed out early against arch rivals Germany. Rijkaard, the model professional, earned himself a red card after a hostile tussle with the most irritating footballer ever, Rudi Völler, who was spit in the hair by the Dutchman when leaving the pitch.

Rijkaard was exceptional in Milan's 1992 Serie A success and even more so the following season, holding the team together as confidence hit rock bottom with the loss to injury of Van Basten and continued problems with Gullit. Rijkaard returned to Ajax after Milan's European Cup final defeat against Olympique Marseille despite desperate attempts by the club to keep him at San Siro. Two season's later Rijkaard fittingly terminated his playing career by making the winning goal against his former teammates as Ajax defeated AC Milan to claim the 1995 European Cup.

Rijkaard enjoyed his time off to run an underwear business. Like Björn Borg in Sweden and abroad, Frank Rijkaard is also synonym to trendy underthings in the Netherlands.

All eyes pointed in Rijkaard's direction again when he was chosen coach of the Dutch national team in succession to Guus Hiddink after the 1998 World Cup. The choice was controversial because Rijkaard had no head coaching experience at all. The players, of whom many had played with him, backed him however. After the unfortunate defeat against Italy in the European Championships 2000 in Amsterdam he resigned. From July 2001 he was head coach of Sparta in the highest Dutch league, succeeding another football legend, Willem van Hanegem, until he was fired for bad results. In 2003, he signed a contract as head coach at FC Barcelona.

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