Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard

Rijkaard in 2006
Personal information
Full name Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard
Date of birth (1962-09-30) 30 September 1962
Place of birth Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Playing position Defensive midfielder, Centre back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1980–1987 Ajax 205 (47)
1987–1988 Sporting CP 0 (0)
1987–1988Real Zaragoza (loan) 11 (0)
1988–1993 Milan 142 (16)
1993–1995 Ajax 56 (12)
Total 414 (75)
National team
1981–1994 Netherlands 73 (10)
Teams managed
1998–2000 Netherlands
2001–2002 Sparta Rotterdam
2003–2008 Barcelona
2009–2010 Galatasaray
2011–2013 Saudi Arabia

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrɑŋk ˈrɛi̯kaːrt]; born 30 September 1962) is a Dutch football manager and former player who played as a midfielder or defender. Rijkaard has played for Ajax, Real Zaragoza and Milan, and represented his national side 73 times, scoring 10 goals. In his coaching career, he has been at the helm of the Netherlands national team, Sparta Rotterdam, Barcelona, Galatasaray and the Saudi Arabia national team. Regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in footballing history, and as one of the best players of his generation,[1][2] in 2010, Rijkaard was described by British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph as having been "a stylish player of faultless pedigree".[3]

Playing career

Rijkaard with Ajax in 1981.


Rijkaard was born in Amsterdam. His mother, Neel, is Dutch and his father, Herman (1935–2010),[4] was a former Surinamese footballer.[5] Rijkaard was just 17 when Ajax coach Leo Beenhakker gave him his senior squad debut on 23 August 1980. He made an immediate impact, scoring the third goal in a 4–2 away victory over Go Ahead Eagles, the first league match in the 1980–81 season. He would play another 23 games for Ajax in his first season, netting a total of 4 goals. In 1981–82 he won his first league championship with Ajax, and went on to successfully defend that title in the following season. Rijkaard stayed at Ajax for seven and a half seasons, as a central defender (1981–82, 1982–83, 1984–85), a right midfielder and a central midfielder (1985–86). During this period he won the Dutch league championship three times (1981–82, 1982–83, 1984–85) and the Dutch Cup three times (1982–83, 1985–86, 1986–87). In the 1986–87 season he won the Cup Winners' Cup with Ajax (Final: Ajax 1–0 Lokomotive Leipzig). In September 1987, what would have been Rijkaard's third season (1987–88) under Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff as head coach, Rijkaard stormed off the training field and vowed never to play under him again. He was signed by the Portuguese club Sporting CP, but he signed too late to be eligible to play in any competition. He was immediately loaned out to Spanish team Real Zaragoza, but upon completing his first season at Zaragoza, was signed by Italian side Milan.


Rijkaard played for five seasons at Milan. It was coach Arrigo Sacchi who saw Rijkaard as playing a pivotal role at Milan and transformed the central defender into a world class holding midfielder, where the Dutchman's aggressive and firm style would go on to influence the likes of Patrick Vieira to replicate in future years. Playing alongside fellow country-men Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, Rijkaard won the European Cup twice (in 1989 against Steaua București and 1990, against Benfica) and the domestic Serie A championship twice. In the 1990 European Cup Final he scored the only goal to win the cup for Milan.

Return to Ajax

After five seasons in Italy, Rijkaard returned to Ajax in 1993. With Louis van Gaal at the helm, Rijkaard and Danny Blind formed the experienced defensive core of the Ajax team that won the first two of three consecutive Dutch Championships. Ajax were the unbeaten champions of the Netherlands in the 1994–95 season, and carried that success into Europe. In his final game, Rijkaard won the Champions League, with a 1–0 victory over Milan in the 1995 final at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna. He was named in the FIFA 100, Pelé's list of the 125 World's Greatest Footballers.

International career

Frank Rijkaard and Carmen Sandries getting married on 10 October 1985

On the international stage, Rijkaard made his debut for the Netherlands in 1981. He was part of the Dutch side that won Euro 1988 with a 2–0 win in the final over the Soviet Union, playing at center-back alongside Ronald Koeman. He won a total of 73 caps and scored 10 goals. Rijkaard also played for the Netherlands during the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and at Euro 1992.

Spitting incident

Rijkaard (left), with Ronald Koeman (third from right), Erwin Koeman (second from right) and Ruud Gullit (right) in the Dutch national team in 1983

Rijkaard was the cause of an incident with Rudi Völler when West Germany played the Netherlands in the 1990 World Cup. Rijkaard was booked for a tackle on Völler and, as Rijkaard took up position for the free kick, he spat in Völler's hair. Völler complained to the referee and was booked as well. From the resulting free kick, Völler then handled the ball and then went to the ground (according to his own account) to avoid a collision with Dutch keeper Hans van Breukelen, while others, notably Rijkaard and van Breukelen, saw Voller's handball and his resulting action as a dive in hopes for a penalty. Van Breukelen was angry at this but Rijkaard, already annoyed by Völler's previous antics, again confronted the West German by twisting his ear and stamping on his foot. The Argentine referee Juan Carlos Loustau was tired of both Völler and Rijkaard's consistently hostile antics towards each other in such a short period of time, and fearing a fight between the two, sent off both Rijkaard and Völler. As he jogged back to the entrance tunnel, Rijkaard again spat in Völler's hair as they left the pitch.[6] The German press nicknamed him "Llama" for his spitting. Rijkaard would later apologise for his behaviour to Völler, who accepted.[7] At Euro 1992, Rijkaard scored a late equalizer for the Netherlands in a 2–2 draw with Denmark at the semi final stage but the Dutch went out on penalties. He made his final appearance for the Netherlands in the 3–2 defeat against eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Style of play

Regarded as one of the greatest players in his position, Rijkaard was a quick, strong, complete, and tenacious defensive midfielder, who was praised by pundits throughout his career for his physical and athletic attributes, his work rate, positioning, his acute tactical intelligence and decision making, as well as his outstanding consistency and ability to read the game; due to his aggression and versatility, he was also capable of playing in a defensive role, usually in the centre.[8] Rijkaard was a strong tackler, with good technique and vision, which made him adept at starting attacking plays as a deep-lying playmaker once he won back possession;[8] he also possessed a powerful shot.[1][2][9]

Managerial career

Early years

Rijkaard's coaching career began when he was appointed manager of the Netherlands national team in 1998. He had previously served as an assistant coach, along with Johan Neeskens and Ronald Koeman under the managerial tenure of Guus Hiddink. At the time, he was not taken seriously as a manager because of his inexperience, but he was able to guide his national side to the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 2000. During the group phase, the Dutch team won slowly but surely and managed to get three victories: 1–0 against the Czech Republic, 3–0 against Denmark and 3–2 against France. In the quarter-final, his side produced the biggest win of the competition, a 6–1 result against Yugoslavia. The Netherlands played some of the best football of the tournament, but lost their semi-final match to Italy on penalties; Rijkaard resigned immediately.[10]

During the 2001–02 season, he became manager of Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch Eredivisie, the oldest professional team in the country. Rijkaard enjoyed the down-to-earth atmosphere, although the club was not financially strong.[11] Under his leadership, the club was relegated to the second division for the first time in its history, and he was fired as a consequence.


First years

Rijkaard was not out of a coaching role for long, and less than a year after leaving Sparta, he was appointed manager of Barcelona for the 2003–04 season. The season would prove to be a watershed for the club, but not without initial instability. Rijkaard arrived at the club as it entered a new phase, having elected a new president in Joan Laporta and a new managerial board, but with fans unhappy that Laporta had let English midfielder David Beckham snub the chance to join the club. For Rijkaard, the team he inherited, with the exception of new superstar signing Ronaldinho (who was the club's second choice after Beckham), also consisted of many underachieving players from the old guard and era that failed to meet the club and its fans' demands to match archrival Real Madrid's success in the early 2000s, having not won a trophy since 1999.

Rijkaard had a disappointing start at Barcelona that saw some sections of the club's fans call for his resignation, and he drew flak from the media when the team lost to Real Madrid in December 2003.[11] Rijkaard's resilience won through and from 2004 onwards, he achieved a massive turnaround, as the team went from strength to strength. Barcelona finished runners-up in La Liga in 2003–04, having been close to the relegation zone at one point in the earlier stages of the season. Rijkaard then took Barcelona to the next level as he phased out the old guard and rebuilt a new-look side around Ronaldinho, with new players like Deco, Samuel Eto'o, Rafael Márquez and Ludovic Giuly, along with the latest promotion of some young players from the previous era trained in the club's youth teams, including Víctor Valdés and Andrés Iniesta. He eventually succeeded in turning around the fortunes of the club, with the strong support of Laporta, and within the next couple of years finally managed to win La Liga both in 2004–05 and in 2005–06.

Champions League title and after

Rijkaard with Xavi, Ronaldinho, and Puyol at NASA in 2006.

Rijkaard became the first Barcelona coach to have won twice at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu, an achievement which even successful managers like Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Luis Aragonés were unable to accomplish. His no nonsense policy on and off the field, and the sparkling football played by his team, won him many plaudits and Rijkaard was among the five nominated coaches for UEFA's Team of the Year 2005. On 8 March 2006, he was also honoured by UEFA for his contributions to the European Cup competition throughout his career as player and manager.[12]

Rijkaard also achieved success on the European stage, winning the 2005–06 Champions League with a 2–1 win against Arsenal in the final. Barcelona had been losing 1–0 for most of the match before his late tactical substitutions proved the decisive factor, as the introduction of Henrik Larsson and Juliano Belletti contributed directly to Barcelona's two goals. The win made him the fifth individual to have won the European Cup both as a player and as a manager, alongside Miguel Muñoz, Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff and Carlo Ancelotti, a feat later achieved also by his eventual successor, Pep Guardiola, and later Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane

After losing to Manchester United in the semi-final of the 2007–08 Champions League, Rijkaard was asked whether he would quit at the end of the season seeing as though he had not won anything for two successive seasons. He replied, "I have no intention of leaving. It would be different if the players were saying it is time for me to go but that is not the case." On 1 May 2008, it was reported that Rijkaard allegedly confided to a colleague that he would be stepping down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season, but 24 hours later, he stated in a press conference that he had no intention of leaving the club.[13]

On 8 May 2008, the day after Barcelona's dismal 4–1 defeat to archrivals Real Madrid, Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced that at the end of the 2007–08 season, Rijkaard would no longer be head coach of the first team. Laporta made the announcement after a board meeting, and Rijkaard was succeeded by Pep Guardiola.[14] Laporta made it clear that Rijkaard's achievements "made history" and praised him for his time at the club.


On 5 June 2009, Rijkaard signed a two-year contract to manage the Turkish Süper Lig team Galatasaray, following the resignation of Bülent Korkmaz two days earlier. He was sacked on 19 October 2010 and was replaced with Gheorghe Hagi.

Saudi Arabia

On 28 June 2011, It was announced that Rijkaard would be head coach of the Saudi Arabia national team after a deal was reached with the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.[15] Saudi Arabia were eliminated in the third round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification after a 4–2 away defeat to Australia in their last match on 29 February, finishing third in their group.

The 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations was the second competition for Rijkaard with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis left the competition at the group stage after losing 2–0 against Iraq, a 2–0 win against Yemen and 1–0 defeat against Kuwait. On 16 January 2013, Rijkaard was dismissed under a confidential contractual termination penalty clause following Saudi Arabia's exit at the tournament.[16]

Montverde Academy

In 2013, Florida prep school Montverde Academy hired Rijkaard as their advisor of player development.[17]

Coaching philosophy and style

Rijkaard coaching Galatasaray in 2009.

As a coach, Rijkaard's essential philosophy is to guide his team towards playing attack-minded football as a cohesive unit. In doing this, he believes a team can achieve the dual objectives of winning games and ensuring the audience's enjoyment of the spectacle. This follows in the best coaching traditions of Rijkaard's countrymen and forebears Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff. In this light, it is notable that Michels coached both Cruyff and Rijkaard during their respective participations with the Dutch national team, and that Cruyff himself went on to coach Rijkaard. Nonetheless, Rijkaard believes in working within a contemporary football context and is not out to imitate the styles and tactics of past masters. In his own words:

you gain many impressions from the past. You still have it in your mind when you become a coach, and if something happens you can recall how it was dealt with. But I strongly believe that you cannot copy anyone. The decisions that a great coach made years ago will not necessarily work today.[18]

Rijkaard has evidently learned to curb the quick temper of his playing days and is often a portrait of calm and stability in training and along the touchline. He rarely courts controversy in the media and is more apt now to promote a positive environment and let his team's play speak for itself when faced with intense rivalry or criticism.[19] The tactics used during his tenure as manager of Barcelona best exemplify Rijkaard's commitment to playing stylish attacking football. During the team's 2004–05 and 2005–06 campaigns, the coach frequently fielded a 4–3–3 formation, a system which encouraged the creativity of the players in the front third of the field and created optimal interplay between the midfielders and forwards during attacks. Within this system the four defenders also tended to play in a relatively high position on the pitch to support the midfield which frequently advanced to participate in the attack. The team generally focuses on maintaining possession in the opponents' half of the field, applying pressure in order to force the opposition to make errors in defense and offensive counter-attacking.

Personal life

Rijkaard comes from a football playing family. He is the son of Herman Rijkaard, a former footballer who played for SV Robinhood in the Surinamese Hoofdklasse, before emigrating to the Netherlands, where he played in the Dutch Eredivisie for FC Blauw-Wit.[5] His older brother, Herman Rijkaard, Jr., is a FIFA certified players' agent who represents various players internationally.[20] Twice divorced, he is currently married to Stephanie and has four children.[21][22][23]


Rijkaard features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series; he is featured in the FIFA 14, FIFA 15 and FIFA 16 Ultimate Team Legends.[24]

Career statistics



Club Division Season League Cup Europe Other Total
Netherlands League KNVB Cup Europe Other[nb 1] Total
AjaxEredivisie1980–81 24411255
1981–82 27500275
1982–83 2538100334
1983–84 23931102710
1984–85 3473141419
1985–86 30964203813
1986–87 3475092489
1987–88 8300110094
Total 205472571850024859
Portugal League Taça de Portugal Europe Supertaça Total
Sporting CPPrimeira Divisão1987–88 0000000000
Total 0000000000
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Supercopa Total
Real ZaragozaLa Liga1987–88 11000110
Total 11000110
Italy Serie A Coppa Italia Europe Other[nb 2] Total
MilanSerie A1988–89 314609111476
1989–90 292609230474
1990–91 303204033396
1991–92 30550355
1992–93 222506300335
Total 142162402867420126
Netherlands League KNVB Cup Europe Super Cup Total
AjaxEredivisie 1993–94 30104061104111
1994–95 2622010010392
Total 561260161208013
Career Total 4147555762129454098



Netherlands national team



Ajax (12)
Milan (10) [8]
  • Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990
  • UEFA Champions League (2): 1988–89, 1989–90
  • UEFA Super Cup (2): 1989, 1990
  • Serie A (2): 1991–92, 1992–93
  • Supercoppa Italiana (2): 1988, 1992


Barcelona (5)
  • UEFA Champions League: 2005–06
  • La Liga (2): 2004–05, 2005–06
  • Supercopa de España (2): 2005, 2006

International goals

Managerial statistics

As of 16 January 2013[25][42]
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Netherlands June 1998 July 2000 22 8 12 2 36.36
Sparta Rotterdam June 2001 May 2002 38 6 12 20 15.79
Barcelona July 2003 May 2008 273 160 63 50 58.61
Galatasaray 5 June 2009 20 October 2010 67 37 15 15 55.22
Saudi Arabia 28 June 2011 16 January 2013 27 7 9 11 25.93
Total 427 218 111 98 51.05


  1. Includes 1987 UEFA Super Cup
  2. Includes Supercoppa Italiana (19881 game, 1 goal), UEFA Super Cup (1989, 19904 games, 1 goal) and Intercontinental Cup (1989, 19902 games, 2 goals)


  1. 1 2 "Dutchman who ruled Europe in three shirts". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Frank Rijkaard Biography". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  3. "Liverpool's Roy Hodgson under fresh scrutiny after Frank Rijkaard leaves Galatasaray". The Daily Telegraph. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  4. "Vader van Frank Rijkaard overleden". (in Dutch). 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  5. 1 2 "Rijkaard finally gets frank". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  6. "World Cup: 25 stunning moments … No19: Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler". Guardian. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  7. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. 1 2 3 4 "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Frank Rijkaard". A.C Milan. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  9. Hitesh Ratna (1 December 2007). "Ruud Gullit: Perfect XI". Four Four Two. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  10. "Rijkaard quits after semi-final loss". BBC Sport. 29 June 2000. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  11. 1 2 "King of cool sits well amid frenzy of Camp Nou". The Guardian. 19 February 2005. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  12. ""Rijkaard takes acclaim"". Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-10.. UEFA. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  13. "Frank Rijkaard to leave Barcelona". The Daily Telegraph. 1 May 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  14. "Guardiola relevará a Rijkaard a partir del 30 de junio" (in Spanish). 8 May 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  15. "Rijkaard Appointed Saudi Arabia Coach". ESPN Soccernet. 3 July 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  16. "Rijkaard sacked as Saudi football coach". arab news. 16 Jan 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  17. Montverde Academy: Frank Rijkaard Joins New Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy 8 August 2013
  18. "Interview: Frank Rijkaard" (PDF) by Andy Roxburgh. The Technician: UEFA Newsletter for Coaches, No. 31; January 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  19. "Rijkaard calls on Barcelona fans to show returning Mourinho some respect". The Guardian. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  20. "'Rijkaard legt beslag op betaling Ajax'". Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  21. "Cookies op |". Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  22. "Derde zoon voor oud-voetballer Frank Rijkaard". NU (in Dutch). Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  23. MUÑOZ, CARMEN (2010-06-04). "Frank Rijkaard se casa en Amsterdam con la exniñera de sus hijos". El Periódico. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
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  33. "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or") 1988". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 1 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  34. "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or") 1989". RSSSF. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  35. "Toyota Cup - Most Valuable Player of the Match Award". Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  36. 1 2 "Italy - Footballer of the Year". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  37. Karel Stokkermans (14 March 2007). "ESM XI". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  38. "Fifa names greatest list". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  39. "Zinedine Zidane voted top player by fans" (PDF). UEFA. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  40. "World Soccer Players of the Century". World Soccer. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  41. Frank Rijkaard. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  42. Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard – Coach in European Cups. RSSSF. Retrieved 2 April 2013.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frank Rijkaard.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
England Terry Venables
UEFA Euro host country managers
2000 (co-host with Belgium Robert Waseige)
Succeeded by
Portugal Luiz Felipe Scolari ( Brazil)
Preceded by
Rafael Benítez
UEFA Champions League Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Carlo Ancelotti
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