Just a few weeks ago, the forty five years old Phillip Cocu won the first league title of his burgeoning coaching career. This outstanding achievement sparked wild celebrations among PSV Eindhoven fans all over the Netherlands. After watching the impressive scenes of jubilation among the fans and players, I was rather left very reflective on a proud Dutch tradition. This is the tradition of methodically and continuously providing the perfect environment for the development and grooming of top class coaches.

  • By Rion Rodgers
  • Follow Rion on Twitter

cocu psv coCocu only completed his hugely successful playing career in 2008 and started his coaching education in Eindhoven very soon after. While completing his coaching badges, he assisted with coaching a number of the youth teams at PSV Eindhoven and was also appointed as an assistant coach for the Dutch National team. The next four years saw him taking on a number of coaching roles at PSV. These roles included the caretaker manager for the first team as well as the under-19 managerial role. By the summer of 2013, Cocu was appointed as the first team coach for his club. Obviously he did not take long to taste success, because, in only his second season, he was able to lead his team to the highly prestigious Eredivisie title.

Cocu isn’t however, the only ex-Orange player from his generation that has commenced a very promising coaching career and is learning the trade at one of the biggest clubs in the Netherlands. Frank de Boer just completed his fifth season as a topflight coach at Ajax. He won a staggering four consecutive Eredivisie titles in his first four seasons as manager of the club. De Doer’s current assistant is also a former international teammate, Arsenal legend, Dennis Bergkamp.

This formidable group of young coaches that are rapidly making it to the forefront of Dutch Football, will also be joined by yet another of their previous international teammate, Giovanni van Bronckhorst. He will be the new first team coach of the Rotterdam based Feyenoord, at the end of this season.

There are also numerous more former Oranje players from Cocu’s generation that are making notable strides in the early years of their managerial careers. Some of these guys include Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Seedorf have even briefly managed one of the most famous and decorated European teams, AC Milan, already in his short managerial career. It is also worth noting that Jimmy Floyd recently won the league 2 title in England, managing Burton Albion.

So what is the future of these young coaches? The definitive answer to this question obviously can only be provided in time, but the likelihood is that they will enjoy long and successful careers. Most of them are learning their trade at great Dutch clubs or with the Dutch National team, and under very experienced and talented coaches. It is therefore, reasonable to expect that at least a few of them will invariably see their careers catapulted into the highest echelons of coaching. Maybe it will be one of these guys who will eventually guide the Dutch National team to that notoriously elusive maiden world cup title.

The revolution of Dutch football and the evolution of the playing, training and coaching systems as well as the methodology adopted and utilised today, have their roots with famous coaches. From the famous English coach, Jack Reynolds, to the legendary Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff, these men have all greatly impacted the coaching culture of the Netherlands. Since the days of Reynolds and Michels, a vast number of young coaches have been developed and gone on to achieving outstanding successes.

Dutch football fans love to laud the skilful Dutch players that are produced on a seemingly boundless conveyor belt every season. However, we sometimes forget that it the culture, systems, administration and pride that have been naturally and methodically inculcated and nurtured into the Dutch coaching development system, that have provided the bedrock for the creation of these players.

Rion Rodgers (4 Posts)