On June 26th 1988, the streets and canals of Amsterdam turned orange as people flocked to the city to celebrate the triumphant return of the Dutch national soccer team from the European Championship tournament. For the first time ever, the Dutch squad had brought home the cup from a major international soccer tournament. After many years of close calls, the team was finally able to celebrate, and the entire country was ready to celebrate with them.
As the parade wound its way through the Amsterdam canals, the boat carrying the team was flanked by additional boats of all sizes carrying ardent supporters. The streets were equally filled with people cheering on the team, waving banners and flags, and lighting flares. Most memorably, the roofs of houseboats became viewing platforms for anyone who could squeeze on, resulting in houseboat after houseboat almost sinking into the canals. That didn’t stop the supporters, though, as they continued to jump and cheer when the national team’s boat sailed by.
The 1988 UEFA European Soccer Championship, held in West Germany, would turn out to be a historic tournament for the Dutch. After a decade of floundering in international play – not even qualifying for multiple World Cups – The Netherlands won its first international tournament. Not only did the team win in the semi-finals against West Germany, who had beaten them in the 1974 World Cup final, they also came out victorious in the final against the Soviet Union, in what would be that country’s last European Championship match, beating the Soviets 2-0.
Team captain Ruud Gullit scored the first goal for the Dutch side, but it was the goal from the legendary Marco van Basten that would truly go down in history, sealing the victory for an ecstatic Dutch team and Dutch nation.
For much more on the history of the Dutch national soccer team, read Issue 17, of Dutch the magazine.
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