Ruud Gullit: The Football Icon Who Redefined Dutch Football

Ruud Gullit: The Football Icon Who Redefined Dutch Football

Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit is a name synonymous with Dutch football. Born on September 1, 1962, in Amsterdam, Gullit was a football prodigy from a young age. He quickly rose to prominence in the football world, becoming one of the most influential players of his generation. His unique style of play, coupled with his leadership qualities, revolutionized Dutch football and left an indelible mark on the game.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the remarkable career of Ruud Gullit, his achievements, and his impact on Dutch football. Let’s dive in.

Early Life and Career

Ruud Gullit, born as Ruud Dil, was born on September 1, 1962, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He grew up in a family of seven children, and his parents were of Surinamese and Dutch descent. Gullit’s father, George, was a strict disciplinarian who worked as a chemist, while his mother, Ria, was a homemaker.

From a young age, Gullit showed an interest in football. He would often play with his brothers and friends in the streets and parks of Amsterdam. Gullit’s talent was evident from an early age, and he was soon scouted by several local football clubs.

Ruud Gullit joined the youth team of HFC Haarlem at the age of 10. He quickly made an impression on his coaches and teammates with his speed, skill, and determination. Gullit’s talent was further honed at Haarlem, where he was trained in the principles of Total Football, the famous Dutch playing style that emphasizes attacking football and positional interchangeability.

By the age of 16, Ruud Gullit had made his debut for the Haarlem senior team, and he soon became a regular starter. In 1982, Gullit helped Haarlem win the Dutch Cup, which was the first major trophy of his career. His performances attracted the attention of bigger clubs, and in 1985, he was signed by Feyenoord Rotterdam, one of the most successful clubs in Dutch football history.

Ruud Gullit Early Life and Career

Joining Feyenoord and Winning the League

In 1985, Ruud Gullit made a high-profile transfer to Feyenoord Rotterdam from his hometown club, HFC Haarlem. At Feyenoord, Gullit continued to showcase his exceptional talent and leadership qualities, which helped him become a crucial player for the team.

In the 1985-1986 season, Feyenoord had a dominant campaign, and Gullit was a key contributor to their success. Gullit played a vital role in Feyenoord’s attack, scoring 19 goals in 34 league appearances. His performances helped Feyenoord win the Eredivisie, the top tier of Dutch football, for the first time in over a decade. Gullit’s impact was further highlighted by his selection as the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1986.

Ruud Gullit role in Feyenoord’s success went beyond his individual performances on the field. He was also a leader and a role model for his teammates. Gullit’s professionalism, work ethic, and determination inspired his fellow players to raise their game and perform at their best. His influence extended off the field as well, where he became a popular figure among the fans and the media.

Ruud Gullit success at Feyenoord not only cemented his reputation as one of the best players in the world but also caught the attention of top European clubs. In 1987, Gullit made another high-profile transfer, this time to AC Milan, where he would continue to make history and etch his name in football folklore.

Transfer to PSV Eindhoven and Winning the European Cup

After a successful stint at AC Milan, Ruud Gullit returned to the Netherlands in 1988 to join PSV Eindhoven. Gullit’s move to PSV was a significant transfer, as the team had just won the Eredivisie and was looking to make an impact in Europe.

Ruud Gullit arrival at PSV was a game-changer. He brought a wealth of experience, talent, and leadership to the team, which immediately made an impact. In the 1988-1989 season, Gullit played a pivotal role in PSV’s run to the European Cup final. Along the way, he scored crucial goals, including a hat-trick against KV Mechelen in the quarter-finals.

In the final against Benfica, Gullit produced a masterclass performance. He scored the opening goal with a brilliant header, and his overall play was outstanding. Gullit’s contribution helped PSV win the European Cup, which was the first and only time the team has won the competition.

Ruud Gullit impact on PSV’s success went beyond his performances on the field. He was a leader and a mentor to his teammates, who looked up to him for guidance and inspiration. Gullit’s professionalism and dedication to the sport set an example for his teammates to follow, which helped raise the standard of the entire team.

Ruud Gullit time at PSV was short-lived, as he soon moved on to play for other top clubs in Europe. However, his contribution to PSV’s historic European triumph will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in the club’s history.

Ruud Gullit Personal informationSource : wikipedia

Move to AC Milan and Winning Ballon d’Or

In 1987, Ruud Gullit made a transfer that would change his career forever. He moved from Feyenoord Rotterdam to AC Milan for a then-world record fee of 17 million euros. Gullit’s transfer to Milan was a significant move, as he joined a team that was already packed with talent and ambition.

In his first season at Milan, Gullit made an instant impact. He played a key role in helping the team win the Serie A title, their first in nine years. Gullit’s performances were so impressive that he was named the Ballon d’Or winner in 1987, an award that recognizes the best player in Europe.

Ruud Gullit partnership with fellow Dutchman Marco van Basten was one of the most successful in the history of football. Together, they formed a formidable attacking duo that terrorized defenses across Europe. Their understanding on and off the field was exceptional, and their combination play was a joy to watch.

In the 1988-1989 season, Gullit and van Basten led Milan to a historic triumph in the European Cup. Gullit scored the opening goal in the final against Steaua București, which Milan went on to win 4-0. Gullit’s contribution to Milan’s success was immense, and he was hailed as a hero by the club’s fans and the media.

Ruud Gullit time at Milan was marked by success and individual brilliance. He played a pivotal role in helping the team win two Serie A titles, two European Cups, and an Intercontinental Cup. His performances on the field were recognized by his peers, who voted him as the Ballon d’Or winner in 1987.

Gullit’s move to Milan not only cemented his reputation as one of the best players in the world but also helped him leave an indelible mark on football history. His partnership with van Basten was one of the greatest in the sport, and his contribution to Milan’s success will forever be remembered as one of the club’s greatest achievements.

Winning Euro 88 with Netherlands

Ruud Gullit played a crucial role in helping the Netherlands win the Euro 88 championship. The tournament was held in West Germany, and the Dutch team had a talented squad that included the likes of Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard.

Ruud Gullit impact on the tournament was felt from the very first game. He scored a goal and provided an assist in the opening match against the Soviet Union, which the Netherlands won 1-0. Gullit’s iconic header in that match is still remembered as one of the greatest moments in Dutch football history.

Throughout the tournament, Gullit’s leadership and skill on the field were on full display. He played a key role in the midfield, dictating the pace of the game and controlling possession. His ability to win the ball back and launch attacks from deep positions was a key factor in the Netherlands’ success.

In the final against the Soviet Union, Gullit was once again instrumental. He led the team by example and scored the opening goal with a brilliant header, giving the Netherlands an early lead. The Dutch went on to win the match 2-0, with Gullit being named the man of the match.

Ruud Gullit impact on Dutch football cannot be overstated. He was a true pioneer who helped revolutionize the way the game was played in the Netherlands. His ability to combine physicality with technical skill was a rare talent, and it inspired a generation of Dutch footballers.

The Euro 88 victory was the highlight of Ruud Gullit international career, and it cemented his reputation as one of the greatest Dutch footballers of all time. His contribution to the tournament was immense, and his legacy in Dutch football will live on for generations to come.

Gullit’s Role in Total Football

Total Football is a style of play that was pioneered by the Dutch football team in the 1970s. It is characterized by its fluidity, flexibility, and emphasis on teamwork. One of the players who best exemplified the principles of Total Football was Ruud Gullit.

Ruud Gullit interpretation of Total Football was unique, in that he combined his physicality and athleticism with technical skill and tactical awareness. He was equally comfortable playing as a forward, a midfielder, or a defender, and he could seamlessly transition between these roles depending on the needs of his team.

What set Gullit apart from other Total Football players was his leadership on and off the field. He was not just a talented footballer, but also a natural leader who inspired his teammates and led by example. His ability to read the game and make split-second decisions was unparalleled, and he had a remarkable knack for scoring crucial goals in big matches.

Ruud Gullit impact on the game can be seen in the way he changed the role of the attacking midfielder. He was one of the first players to play as a deep-lying playmaker, dictating the pace of the game from deep positions and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. His vision, passing ability, and technical skill made him a nightmare for opposing defenders, and he played a key role in many of his teams’ most memorable victories.

Gullit’s legacy in the game is still felt today. His influence on the development of Total Football cannot be overstated, and he continues to inspire young footballers around the world. Whether as a player or a coach, Gullit’s impact on the game will be felt for generations to come.

Retirement and Post-Football Career

Ruud Gullit retired from professional football in 1998, at the age of 36. He had enjoyed a long and successful career, during which he had won numerous trophies and accolades, and had established himself as one of the greatest footballers of his generation.

After retiring from football, Gullit turned his attention to management and coaching. He began his managerial career with Chelsea in 1996, and later went on to manage Newcastle United, Feyenoord, LA Galaxy, and Terek Grozny. While he achieved some success as a manager, he was also known for his outspoken personality and his willingness to challenge conventional wisdom.

In addition to his managerial career, Gullit has also had a successful career in the media. He has worked as a pundit for several television networks, including the BBC, ESPN, and Sky Sports. He has also written several books about his life in football, including his autobiography, “How to Watch Football.”

Outside of football, Gullit has pursued several other interests. He has been an ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which uses sport as a tool for social change. He has also been involved in music, both as a performer and as a producer. In 2018, he released a single called “Not a Bad Thing,” which was a collaboration with the Dutch DJ and producer, Maestro Harrell.

Overall, Ruud Gullit post-football career has been as varied and dynamic as his playing career. He has continued to make an impact in football, both as a coach and as a commentator, and has also explored other interests and passions outside of the sport. His legacy as one of the greatest footballers of all time is secure, but his contributions to the game and to society at large continue to evolve and expand.

Bullet Points:

  • Ruud Gullit won the Dutch Footballer of the Year award three times
  • Gullit was the first Dutch player to win the Ballon d’Or in 1987
  • He won the European Cup with both PSV Eindhoven and AC Milan
  • Gullit won the Euro 88 with the Netherlands
  • Gullit was a key player in the Dutch team that reached the World Cup 1990 round of 16
  • He was inducted into the Dutch Football Hall of Fame in 2011
  • Gullit has coached several teams, including Chelsea, Newcastle United, and Los Angeles Galaxy

FAQs about Ruud Gullit

What is Ruud Gullit’s net worth?

As of 2021, Ruud Gullit’s net worth is estimated to be around $20 million. He earned a significant amount of money during his playing career, and has also made money through his coaching, punditry, and media work.

Who did Ruud Gullit coach?

Ruud Gullit has coached several football teams during his career. He began his managerial career with Chelsea in 1996, and later went on to manage Newcastle United, Feyenoord, LA Galaxy, and Terek Grozny.


In summary, Ruud Gullit is one of the greatest footballers of all time, with a career spanning over two decades as a player and coach. From his early days in Dutch football to his success at AC Milan and beyond, Gullit was known for his unique playing style and ability to dominate on the pitch. His numerous achievements and honors, both as an individual and as part of successful teams, cement his legacy as a true icon of the sport.

In his later career, Gullit transitioned into coaching, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience to various clubs. While he faced some setbacks, his successes and contributions to the sport are undeniable.

Overall, Gullit’s impact on football cannot be overstated. He remains an inspiration to players and coaches alike, and his legacy as a true legend of the sport will continue to endure for generations to come.

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