Rinus Michels: Wikis


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Rinus Michels
Personal information
Full name Marinus Jacobus Hendricus Michels
Date of birth 9 February 1928(1928-02-09)
Place of birth    Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date of death    3 March 2005 (aged 77)
Place of death    Aalst, Belgium
Playing position Striker
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1946–1958 Ajax 264 (122)   
National team
1950–1954 Netherlands 005 00(0)
Teams managed
JOS (Amateurs)
AFC (Amateurs)
Los Angeles Aztecs
1. FC Köln
Bayer Leverkusen

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Marinus ("Rinus") Jacobus Hendricus Michels (9 February 1928 – 3 March 2005) was a Dutch football player and coach. He played his entire career for the club Ajax Amsterdam, whom he later coached, and was a member of the Netherlands national team both as a player and as manager.

Michels became most notable for his coaching achievements, having won the European Cup with Ajax and the Spanish league with Barcelona, and having had four tenures as coach of the Netherlands national team, whom he led to reach the final match of the 1974 World Cup and to win the 1988 European Championship.[1] He is credited with the invention of a major football tactic known as "Total Football" in the 1970s,[1] and was named "coach of the century" by FIFA in 1999.[1]


Playing career

Michels was born in Amsterdam and grew up at the Olympiaweg, a street near the Olympic Stadium. He celebrated his ninth birthday on 9 February 1936, when he received a pair of football shoes and an Ajax jersey. Moments later he was playing with his father at a small field near their home.[2] Via Joop Köhler, a friend of the family who was commissioner at Ajax, Michels was introduced to the club and became a junior member in 1940.[2] When World War II started, and specially during the Dutch famine of 1944, Michels' career was set on hold.[2]

French club Lille OSC had also wanted to contract him, but an international career did not go through as the Dutch Army did not let him go because he had to go on duty.[2]


Ajax first team

On 9 June 1946 Michels was invited into Ajax' first team squad to replace the injured Han Lambregt. In his debut, Ajax beat ADO 8–3 and Michels scored five times.[2] That season Ajax won their fourteenth division championship and a year later they won the Dutch national championship.[2] Although there were doubts about Michels' technical skills, team members like Cor van der Hart and captain Joop Stoffelen were enthusiastic about his strength and heading capabilities.[2] Indeed Michels was characterized for his hard work rather than for his technical qualities.[3]

He went on to become a regular for the club, and between 1946 and 1958, he appeared in 264 league matches for Ajax, in which he scored 122 goals.[2] In 1958, four years after the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands and one year after winning his second league title he was forced to end his career due to a back injury.[2]

National team

Michels' international playing career with the Dutch national team lasted five matches, making his debut on 8 June 1950 away to Sweden, losing 4–1.[4] He also lost all of his remaining matches as an Oranje player, 4–1 to Finland, 4–0 to Belgium, 6–1 to Sweden and 3-1 to Switzerland.[4]

Coaching career

Michels returned to Ajax as head coach in 1965. Under his tenure, Ajax won the national championship four times and the KNVB Cup three times in the following six years. In 1969 they reached for the first time the European Cup final, being defeated by Milan. In 1971, he managed Ajax's to the first of three consecutive European Cups. While at Ajax, Michels modernized the game by introducing "Total Football" and using the offside trap (See also: Total football). He then moved to Barcelona in the second part of 1971, leading the team to win the Primera División title in 1974, before joining the Dutch national team.[1]

1974 World Cup

Michels was appointed national coach by the KNVB after the Netherlands had qualified for the 1974 World Cup. His first game as Dutch coach was on 27 March 1974, in a 1–1 draw against Austria. At the finals tournament in Germany, their third ever World Cup participation, the Dutch impressed many observers with their style of play which was backed up by their results; they won their first round group, then in the second round group they defeated Argentina and the defending world champions Brazil, and reached the final after five wins and one draw, with 14 goals scored and only one conceded in six matches. At that point, Michels was undefeated in nine matches as the Netherlands coach. The Netherlands scored first against Germany in the final, but the host team came back to defeat them 2–1, ending their run. That match was the last of Michels' first tenure in charge of the Dutch team, whom he would return to coach ten years later.

Later years

Michels later moved on to the United States where he coached in the ill-fated North American Soccer League. He ended his club coaching career with Bayer Leverkusen in 1989. He had his jour de gloire however, when he coached the Dutch team to European glory at the Euro 88.

He died, on 3 March 2005, in the City of Aalst hospital in Belgium after a heart surgery (his second since 1986).

Personality and legacy

Michels became known as a person who was keen on his money and did not want to spend much of it. A common joke in the Ajax changing rooms in these days was: "Does anybody actually know the color of Michels' wallet?".[2] His IQ was high and during foreign trips he always brought a book with him, which he wanted to have read completely before coming home.[2] He was known as someone who did not need anybody and who felt happy on his own, but sometimes he joined his team mates and share their enthusiastic friendships.[2] At the celebrations of Ajax' 50th birthday in 1950 he was the organizer of the humoristic show that was held and during traditional parties he and his friend Hans Boskamp climbed up the stages to sing some duets.[2] After matches he was always singing in the showers of the changing rooms as well, even when the match was lost.[2]

Michels was also known as a practical joker. At a hotel he once borrowed a fur coat of a lady and pretended to be a lady to his team mates.[2] During a training session in Lille the players went fishing and Michels, who did not enjoy himself, jumped into the water.[2]

Due to his authoritarian style as coach Rinus Michels was called The General. He said "Professional football is something like war. Whoever behaves too properly is lost."[5] This has often been misquoted in the form "Football is war". Michels felt the quote was taken out of context as he did not intend to equate war with football. [6] Michels was named coach of the century by FIFA in 1999.[1]

The Rinus Michels Award, which rewards the best managers in Dutch football, is named in his honour.


  • Professional football is something like war. Whoever behaves too properly, is lost. Often misquoted in the form "Football is war".[1][6]
  • It is an art in itself to compose a starting team, finding the balance between creative players and those with destructive powers, and between defence, construction and attack – never forgetting the quality of the opposition and the specific pressures of each match.[7]

About Michels

  • "Both as a player and as a trainer there is nobody who taught me as much as him. I will miss Rinus Michels. ... I always greatly admired his leadership." Johan Cruijff[8]

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
1945-46 Ajax 12 13
1946-47 28 14
1947-48 5 3
1948-49 20 7
1949-50 26 16
1950-51 14 5
1951-52 19 15
1952-53 20 8
1953-54 26 12
1954-55 33 14
1955-56 30 8
1956-57 Eredivisie 29 7
1957-58 2 0
Total Netherlands 264 122
Career Total 264 122





  • Named knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau: 1974
  • Named officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau: 1988
  • Named Dutch manager of the century: 1999
  • Named knight of the KNVB: 2002
  • UEFA Lifetime Award: 2002
  • Best Manager in 50 years of professional football in the Netherlands: 2004
Preceded by
Michel Hidalgo
UEFA European Football Championship Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Richard Møller Nielsen
Preceded by
Ernst Happel
European Cup Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Stefan Kovacs


  1. ^ a b c d e f Scholten, Berend (3 March 2005). "Michels - a total footballing legend". UEFA.com. http://www.uefa.com/uefa/history/Obituaries/newsId=285010.html. Retrieved 29 January 2007.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Droomland". rinus-michels.info. http://www.rinus-michels.info/biografie1.shtml. Retrieved 30 January 2007.  
  3. ^ The Times Online. "Rinus Michels obituary". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1509526,00.html. Retrieved 1 February 2007.  
  4. ^ a b (Dutch)"Rinus Michels - 09 februari 1928". voetbalstats.nl. http://www.voetbalstats.nl/nedxi/sp337.html. Retrieved 30 January 2007.  
  5. ^ In Dutch: "Topvoetbal is zoiets als oorlog. Wie netjes blijft, is verloren".
  6. ^ a b "NRC Handelsblad". NRC Handelsblad. http://www.nrc.nl/krant/article90595.ece. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  7. ^ "Rinus Michels". FIFAworldcup.com. http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com/06/en/p/cc/ned/michels.html. Retrieved 2007-01-30.  
  8. ^ Paul Gallagher (4 March 2005). "Father of Dutch soccer dies". The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/news/Soccer/Father-of-Dutch-soccer-dies/2005/03/04/1109700662715.html. Retrieved 30 January 2007.  

External links

Simple English

Rinus Michels
Personal information
Full name Marinus Jacobus Hendricus Michels
Date of birth 9 February 1928(1928-02-09)
Place of birth    Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date of death    3 March 2005 (aged 77)
Playing position Striker (retired)
Senior clubs
Years Club
1946-1958 Ajax
National team
1950-1954 Netherlands
Teams managed
Los Angeles Aztecs
Bayer Leverkusen

Rinus Michels (born 9 February 1928 - died 3 March 2005) is a former Dutch football player. He has played for Ajax and Netherlands national team.

Club career statistics

Club Performance League
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals
CountryNetherlands 264122
Total 264122

International career statistics

Netherlands national team



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