The first Dutch national team was put together in 1905 by a five-member selection committee from the Royal Dutch Soccer Association (Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond, or KNVB). That first match, played against Belgium, was dominated by the Dutch. During the first ninety minutes, Eddy de Neve scored a goal for his Dutch side, although unfortunately, fellow countryman Ben Stom scored an equalizing own goal in the eighty-sixth minute. One mistake couldn’t stop the Dutch side as De Neve went on to score a hat trick in extra time, resulting in a final score of 4-1. On their maiden outing, proud Oranje (although not wearing orange team colors yet) raised their first silverware: the Coupe van den Abeele trophy, which was awarded from 1905 until 1925 (with a hiatus for World War I and its aftermath) to the winner of an annual Belgium-Netherlands game played in Antwerp.
The Dutch lifted the Van den Abeele Cup eight times, the Belgians three times and two games ended in a draw without extra time. In those two games the holder kept the trophy. The first time that was the Dutch team, and the second time that honor went to the Belgians. However after that final draw, in 1924, at the post-game banquet the Count of Oultremont, the president of the Belgian Football Association, handed the trophy to Dutch captain in recognition of the superb Dutch performance in the game.
The first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay. However, many European countries, including the Netherlands, decided against the lengthy trip to South America.
When the World Cup was held in Italy in 1934, qualifying matches were held for the first time and the Netherlands were among the sixteen teams that made it through to compete. Unfortunately, the Dutch squad didn’t make it out of the first round, losing 3-2 to Switzerland. They had a similar fate at the 1938 World Cup in France, when they lost in the first round to Czechoslovakia.
For nearly forty years, the Dutch national team failed to make it through the qualifying stages and were absent from major international tournaments. It was not until the 1970s that a new playing style would see the Dutch return to the world stage. And what a return it was...
For much more on the history of the Dutch national soccer team, read Issue 17, of Dutch the magazine.
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