Kurt Linder, the ‘tough’ coach who made Van Basten’s debut and saved PSV from relegation
He witnessed Johan Cruijff’s goal against Haarlem from the dugout, let 19-year-old Marco van Basten make his Ajax debut and saved PSV from relegation from the Eredivisie in the late 1960s Former German coach Kurt Linder was tough, particularly clear, and worked for several years in Eindhoven and Amsterdam. He died last week at the age of 89.
Even before PSV was structurally part of the top three in Dutch football, Linder made the line-up in Eindhoven for three years. In his first season as head coach, he prevented PSV from relegating from the Eredivisie. Including Willy van der Kuijlen in his selection, who had a difficult relationship with the tough German coach.
“I represent the whole club”
“But I’m not until the results lag behind,” Linder himself said. “Until then I can overlook a lot of things, but after that I’m really ruthless. Then I look for the causes and they’re often obvious. I have absolutely no problem with that because unlike a player who represents the whole club, whereas a footballer often only thinks in his own street.”
Linder brought his tough attitude and experience gained at French Olympique Marseille and Swiss Young Boys to Amsterdam in 1981, where he succeeded dismissed Leo Beenhakker as head coach, along with youngster Aad de Mos.
Linder and De Mos meet a talented young group, including Wim Kieft, Frank Rijkaard, Gerald Vanenburg, Sonny Silooy and Jesper Olsen. It produces mixed results. But at the end of 1981, a lot of experience was added, when Cruijff returned from the United States. Linder sees from the dugout how Cruijff makes his return to De Meer unforgettable with a marker.
Cruijff’s arrival saves the Amsterdam team’s season – Ajax does not lose a game that season and wins the national title – but it does Linder’s authority no good. Cruijff is the leader of the team and his influence immediately permeates the whole club. Nevertheless, Linder can say that Wim Kieft became Europe’s top goalscorer of the year under his leadership (32 goals) and made his debut for Van Basten in Ajax 1 on April 3, 1982.
After this successful year, Linder returns with homesickness – but apparently also with resentment as he saw Cruijff’s return as distrust of his politics – to his family in Switzerland. At the end of the eighties, Linder returned to the De Meer stadium again, as the successor of head coach Cruijff, who had left for Barcelona.
But Linder’s second term in Amsterdam, in which he doesn’t see much in youngster Dennis Bergkamp, is limited to five games after a poor start to the season, after which the way is clear for interim coaches Spitz. Kohn and Louis van Gaal. .
Linder will be remembered as a tough, clear, but also warm coach. When he left Amsterdam in the early 1980s, Vanenburg described Linder as “a good coach, because of the calm he exuded”. For John van ‘t Schip, one of the other talents he had under his wing, Linder was a father figure to the players.
“Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar.”