"NAC wants to be a trendsetter, not a trend follower"

One of the most colourful teams in the Dutch highest football league the latest years is NAC. The club was born in 1912 after a fusion of NOAD (Nooit Ophouden Altijd Doorgaan: Never Stop Always Keep On Going) and Advendo (Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning: Enjoyable Through Pleasure And Useful Through Relaxation). Both clubs were nearly dead in 1912, which made a couple of members decide to found a new club NOAD-Advendo Combination, shortly NAC.

In the third year of its existence, the club was promoted to the highest level. It would stay there until 1965. In its city Breda (in the south of the Netherlands) NAC became a true people's club. Club history only saw one championship (1921), but NAC did produce one of the best early Dutch footballers ever. The forward was called Rat Verlegh, who played in the first team from his 17th to his 35th, collecting 8 national caps (scoring twice there).

When professional football was introduced in the Netherlands in 1954, NAC was one of the participants. Especially in the sixties, the Breda club developed into a Cup Fighter by reaching the final twice. Both times NAC lost to Ajax: 3-0 in 1961 and 2-1 after extra time in 1967. Because the Amsterdam footballers also won the League title in '67, NAC got a European ticket that year. After two victories over Floriana from Valetta, Malta, Welsh team Cardiff City proved to be too strong in the second round.

In 1973 NAC did win a major title. The club won the Cup by beating NEC in Rotterdam: 2-0. In another European season East-German FC Magdeburg were the better side. The Germans would win the European Cup Winners' Cup that year. NAC repeated the road to the final in the same season, but the club was without a chance at the last stage against PSV: 6-0. This was the last successful feat of the yellow and black, who were almost relegated in 1975 and again and again several years after. Typically, in this period another tradition was born. The fanatic and delightful home matches on Saturday nights were known as Het Avondje NAC (The NAC night), with the home team being hardly beatable.

In the eighties things worsened. Under coach Jo Janssen NAC were relegated in 1983, returned immediately, but had to go down a level again in 1985. At that time it would last eight years before playing at eredivisie-level. Financially the club was in severe trouble, but the fans helped out: the club sold its possessions to the supporters who immediately offered it back to the club for nothing.

The tide turned in 1993. Former international Ronald Spelbos brought the club back to the highest level. The brand new Fujifilm Stadium delivered a steady stream of yearly income, but bad and inconsistent management made the club having to step down a level in 1999 again. Within one season NAC returned in the eredivisie, this time as champion of the first division (for the first time).

Apart from Rat Verlegh, NAC has produced some fine footballers over the years, such as Kees Rijvers, Frans Bouwmeester, Ton Lokhoff and Pierre van Hooijdonk. Little forward Rijvers made his debut at the age of 18 in 1944 and as a twenty-year-old he played his first international match in the orange shirt. He started his adventure in 1950 by going to France, where he played as a professional for Saint-Etienne and Stade Rennes. His professional status made the stubborn Dutch directors decide he could not play for the national team anymore. The French called Rijvers Le Kopa Hollandais, after the great French player Raymond Kopa. Back in the Netherlands Rijvers played at Feyenoord before becoming a coach with FC Twente, PSV (winning the UEFA Cup in 1978) and the Dutch national team. Great talent Frans Bouwmeester played only five international games and ignored offers by FC Barcelona and Valencia because his mother would miss him too much. He also preferred fun over a glamorous career. Ton Lokhoff is called Mister NAC, but he also played for PSV, Feyenoord and Olympique Nîmes in France. The midfielder played two international matches. He retired in 1998. Pierre van Hooijdonk scores everywhere: RBC, NAC, Celtic, Nottingham Forest, Vitesse, Benfica, Feyenoord, Fenerbahce, and also the Dutch national team. He's a pleasant guy, although in Nottingham people won't agree.

NAC's yearly budget lies around nine million euro, but it will probably be twice as much in a couple of years. The fanatic B-side has a bad reputation. The official club website can be found at http://www.nac.nl.

Quote by NAC manager and former national hockey coach Roelant Oltmans.

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