The best player Emmen have ever had? This is Jan van Beveren, the former goalkeeper for the Dutch national team, PSV and Sparta. He would have been 75 on March 5. This is why a new biography is published on him, the complex prodigy in search of recognition.
Go abroad, find someone who knows international football and start talking about Jan van Beveren. Chances are he doesn’t know who you’re talking about. And this when, according to many, Van Beveren was the best and most stylish goalkeeper our country has ever known. ,,He was better than Edwin van der Sar, better than Hans van Breukelen”, says Ruud Doevendans (57) from Duiven in Gelderland. “If you look at his qualities and his appearance, he belongs in a list between legendary goalkeepers such as Lev Jasjin, Gordon Banks and Dino Zoff.”
Yet Van Beveren is not one of them. ,,And it’s as unfair as it is explainable,” says Doevendans. ,,Van Beveren was a great keeper. A unique talent that made the most impossible saves. Unfortunately, he did not fully exploit his potential. He played 32 international matches, but it should have been a lot more considering his ability. He was a goalkeeper in the 1970s when the Netherlands were all the rage at the World Cups in West Germany and Argentina. But Van Beveren was not there. Well, and then you don’t find yourself in an overview of the best international goalkeepers. ”
To squeeze . This is the name of the biography that Doevendans published in 2007 on Van Beveren. A new book about the keeper, who died of cardiac arrest in 2011, will be published this weekend. Reason: the former goalkeeper would have turned 75 on March 5. The book has almost 500 pages and is therefore much thicker than To squeeze . ,,His complex character gets more attention in this book, as do his early years as a goalkeeper and his years in the United States. I used log archives I had in the period before To squeeze not yet available. I also spoke to people I hadn’t interviewed before, also about his years in Emmen. ”
Jan van Beveren was born in Amsterdam and lived in Emmen from the age of ten to seventeen. He ended up in southeastern Drenthe because his father Wil became the sports boss in 1958. Running Bucket . Shortly after the move, young Jan signed up as a goalkeeper at Emmen Football Club. The young keeper was as talented as he was ambitious and wasn’t afraid to say he had more to offer than the club’s older youngsters. He had that too, at the age of fourteen he made his first team debut and in April 1964 he became the first regular goalkeeper. Jan van Beveren was then only sixteen years old.
Black or white
With Van Beveren disposed in a starring role, Emmen became the Sunday amateur champion of the North in 1965. Soon after, he quit. mortified. He injured his hand in preparation for the new season, removed the cast himself after a few weeks and told the coach he could keep goal again. He replied that Van Beveren first had to gain match rhythm in the second team. It was against the sore leg. Van Beveren returned his things and got on the train to go to Rotterdam. His older brother Wil(ke) recently played there for professional club Sparta.
Biograaf Doevendans: ,,If you talk to people who have known Van Beveren closely for a long time, you will hear stories about a jovial and friendly man. But he was also someone with a difficult character. If he felt his honor was at stake, he was extremely blunt.’ Jaap van Beveren (68), the goalkeeper’s younger brother, who lives in Klijndijk, agrees. “It was black or white with Jan. He wasn’t in the gray area between the two.” In Emmen, they were surprised at Van Beveren’s sudden departure. They assumed he would leave for a professional club , but not in this period and not in this way.
At the professional club Sparta, the goalkeeper was allowed to train, and they quickly rubbed their hands. With Van Beveren, the Rotterdam team had received a super talent. In 1967 he became the first regular goalkeeper and also that year he made his debut for the Dutch national team. In 1970, he moved to PSV, where he achieved his greatest success. In ten years, the former Emmenaar became a triple national champion and he also won the UEFA Cup and the KNVB Cup with the Eindhoven team. Experiences with Orange were less glorious. Van Beveren played “only” 32 international matches and was absent from the 1974 and 1978 World Cups in which the Netherlands reached the final.
Doevendans: ,,The simple Van Beveren got into a battle with Orange which he couldn’t win. He could hardly walk through a door with Cruijff and did not want to accept the preferential treatment Cruijff received with the Dutch national team. The troubles already started when Van Beveren was still playing at Sparta. For him, the Dutch team was the stage to step into the international limelight, but for several stars, including Cruijff, the Orange seemed like an afterthought. It has been canceled several times due to financial problems or private interests. Van Beveren did not hide his annoyance and spoke publicly of a “disorganized mess”.
Later, before the 1974 World Cup, Van Beveren objected to what he saw as an unfair distribution of sponsors’ money among players. He was injured back then and trained hard to be fit again in time. ,,He could have played this tournament. But the injury did good for national coach Rinus Michels, who was supporting Cruijff, not to select Van Beveren. In 1975, Van Beveren again came into conflict with Cruijff and some Ajax players in Orange and left Orange with PSV striker Willy van der Kuijlen. At the request of national coach Jan Zwartkruis, he then made himself available for the 1978 World Cup. Van Beveren was in great shape, but to his surprise he was still in reserve heading into this tournament. He had seen enough and retired.”
In 1980, the much talked about goalkeeper moved to America. There he played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and later for the Dallas Sidekicks. He also had a stamp business and worked as a (goalkeeper) coach at several football clubs. Doevendans: ,,When I think of Van Beveren, I think of his great talent, but at the same time also of the tragedy of his career. Because he couldn’t accept the fact that the group around Cruijff could determine its own laws, Van Beveren missed a lot of great things. If the Netherlands had become world champions with him in goal in 1974 and 1978? Many people say yes, but you never know. But one thing is certain: the best goalkeeper was at home and not between the posts.
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