SALVADOR, Brazil, June 21 (Reuters) – The suspension of captain Robin van Persie for Monday’s World Cup Group B decider against Chile means the Netherlands will play an international without a player whose surname begins with ‘Van’ for the first time in almost two decades.
The last time it happened was in 1996 in a friendly against China, some 221 matches ago, the Algemeen Dagblad reported on Saturday.
Since then the Dutch have had at least one ‘Van’ on the field but ironically in the reign of coach Louis van Gaal that run is about to end.
Van Persie is suspended after being booked in the opening two wins over Spain and Australia.
The last time the Netherlands played in the World Cup finals without a ‘Van’ they lost a group match in 1994 in Orlando to neighbors Belgium, for whom Franky van der Elst lined up on the other side.
Injury before the tournament in Brazil kept Rafael van der Vaart out of the Dutch squad and full back Gregory van der Wiel, who played in the 2010 final, was left out because of poor form.
Dutch football is littered with venerable footballing ‘Vans’ - Marco van Basten, Edwin van der Sar, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ruud van Nistelrooy in recent times and the likes of Willem van Hanegem and the Van der Kerkhof brothers, who played in past World Cups.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond; email@example.com; +55 21985471451; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click here)