PSV Eindhoven of Holland are easily one of Europe’s elite clubs. They are a club with heritage, tradition and an impressive roster of past world class players. The city of Eindhoven is situated in the south of the Netherlands, in the province known as North Brabant. The history of the city stretches back to the 13th century, when it was first granted city status by Duke Henry of Brabant. The name Eindhoven derives from two Dutch words, Eind, meaning last, or end and Hoeve, meaning an area of land said to be around fourteen hectares. During the 19th century Eindhoven, like many other cities throughout Europe benefited from the industrial revolution.
The PSV football club was founded in 1913 by and for the employees of the world famous Dutch company, Philips. Back then Philips were primarily manufacturers of light bulbs. Indeed today, one of the nicknames of PSV is The Lightbulbs, other nicknames they have are The Peasants and The Red and Whites. The company was founded in 1891 by Gerard Philips and his father, Frederik, in Eindhoven. Not long after the setting up of the company, Gerard’s brother, Anton came on board, and it was Anton who proved quite a talent in business. As the years went by the young company boldly branched out into other areas. During 1914, the company set up its first scientific research laboratories and made its first steps into radio technology and even X – Ray technologies. Today Philips is a huge company, manufacturing electronic products, various types of hi – tec lighting and healthcare products for the medical industry.
So what does PSV stand for? Its stands for Philips Sport Vereniging, or in English, Philips Sport Union. So as I said, the football club was set up in 1913. However its worth mentioning, that the Philips company first put together a football team three years before in 1910, known as the Philips Elftal, unfortunately though due to financial difficulties and strikes by the workforce, it didn’t last long and the club folded. Happily though, a second effort reaped much reward, the club went from strength to strength. The official day of the relaunch was August 31st 1913, it was the same day that Philips hosted celebrations commemorating the one hundred years since the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army. Obviously, because of the First World War, it was almost impossible to stage football matches. However, the Dutch football authorities gave the green light for the go ahead for the 1915 – 1916 season which saw Philips Elftal play its first competitive match. It ended in defeat for the Philips team losing 3 – 2 to Willem II’s second team. Their team manager at the time was gentleman by the name of Wout Buitenweg. Despite that first defeat, Buitenweg guided his team to promotion that season, winning promotion to the newly formed Brabantian Third Division. Eventually, the relaunched Philips Elftal changed its name to PSV Eindhoven in 1916. Before the start of the 1987 – 1988 season, PSV had won the Eredivisie, the Dutch top division, a total of nine times and it had won the KNVB Cup, the Dutch FA Cup, a total of three times. It had tasted European success too. In 1978 PSV lifted the UEFA Cup. After victories over Glenavon of Northern Ireland, Widzew Łódź of Poland, Eintracht Braunschweig and FC Magdeburg of Germany and a semifinal victory over Barcelona of Spain, Kees Rijvers’s PSV side found themselves in the two legged final against French club, Sporting Club of Bastia. The first leg was took place at Bastia’s home stadium, the Stade Armand Cesari. It finished 0 – 0, and when the two teams reconvened two weeks later, PSV beat the French side easily, running out 3 – 0 winners. It was a great night for PSV, winning its first European trophy in front of their home fans in their own backyard. The Eindhoven club have also done well in the Johan Cruijff Schaal, or in English, the Johan Cruyff Shield, winning it a total of nine times. Dutch football fans will tell you it started out as the Dutch Super Cup back in 1949, first won by Schiedamse Voetbal Vereniging defeating Quick 1888 of Nijmegen. This particular piece of Dutch football silverware was contested between the Eredivisie champions and the winners of the KNVB Cup (Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbal Bond).
Oddly enough it was only played the once back in 1949, the Dutch FA revived the fixture in 1991, then won by another famous Dutch club, Feyenoord of Rotterdam. In 1996, the Dutch FA renamed it the Johan Cruyff Shield, in honour of arguably the country’s greatest ever player, indeed it was PSV who lifted the very first Johan Cruyff Shield, defeating Ajax Amsterdam 3 – 0, a match played at Ajax’s home stadium, the Amsterdam Arena, a nice little satisfying victory for the Eindhoven club. Incidentally, Ajax did achieve revenge a few years later in 2002, when they beat PSV 3 – 1 at the same venue. PSV have had a number of English managers in their history, their first English team manager was John Leavy who was team boss from 1922 to 1926. Then there was Jack Hall, PSV manager from 1929 to 1935. Hall was the manager of Feyenoord when he got the job offer at PSV, during his playing career he played for such clubs as Rochdale and Preston North End, after leaving PSV in 1935 he went on to manage Willem II, eventually going back to again manage the Rotterdam club, Feyenoord. Hall was succeeded by Lancastrian Sam Wadsworth who was PSV team manager until 1938 and again taking the managerial reins at PSV in 1945, managing the club for a further six years until 1951. Wadsworth was a former England international playing his club football for Blackburn and Huddersfield, Sam loved life in Holland, he passed away in Eindhoven aged 64 in 1961. After Sam Wadsworth left the club in 1951 he was succeeded by Harry Topping.
Topping was, like Wadsworth, a Lancastrian, born in Kearsley, about eight miles from Manchester. Topping played his club football for clubs such as Manchester City and Bristol Rovers, and like Jack Hall came to PSV from Feyenoord. For the 1957 – 1958 season George Hardwick was team manager of PSV. Hardwick played left back for English club Middlesbrough for thirteen years, achieving hero status at the east coast club. That statue standing outside Middlebrough’s Riverside stadium? That’s George Hardwick. Last, but most certainly not least is the late great Sir Bobby Robson. Robson had two spells as manager of PSV Eindhoven. From 1990 to 1992, Robson delivered two Eredivisie titles. Unfortunately, Robson was unable to deliver European success. During the second round of the European Cup for the 1991 – 1992 season, PSV were beaten in the second round 2 – 0 on aggregate by Belgian champions, Anderlecht. The season after was the inaugural season of the UEFA Champions League.
Back then the Champions League was formatted slightly differently to how it is now, teams had to succeed in two rounds of matches before entering a group stage. PSV reached the first group stage after beating FC Žalgiris of Lithuania 8 – 0 on aggregate and then Greek champions AEK Athens 3 – 1 on aggregate. Those two victories meant they were in the group stage in Group B alongside AC Milan, IFK Gothenburg and Porto. Unfortunately for PSV, the wheels came off their challenge for European silverware when they finished bottom of their Group following one win and five defeats. Robson had a second spell in charge at PSV during the 1998 – 1999 season, winning the Johan Cruyff Shield.
One other great name in the history of PSV Eindhoven is Guus Hiddink, a former midfielder for The Lightbulbs. Hiddink was born in Varsseveld, about eighty eight miles south east of Amsterdam and only about five miles from the border with Germany. Incidentally, Varsseveld is also the home town of pro cyclist Robert Gesink, nicknamed “The Condor of Varsseveld”. As mentioned, Hiddink played in midfield for PSV, he was at the club for a couple of years from 1970 to 1972. He went on to have spells at De Graafschapp and NEC Nijmegen, he even had spells in the USA with NASL teams Washington Diplomats and San Jose Earthquakes.
After Hiddink hung up his boots for the last time as a player he went into the assistant coach position at PSV, first as deputy to Jan Reker and then to Hans Kraay. During his time in the assistants role PSV won the Eredivisie twice. After impressing the powers that be at PSV Eindhoven he was offered the club manager’s job in the March of 1987. He took on the job when that particular Eredivisie season was coming to an end, with ten games left of the season PSV were three points behind leaders Ajax of Amsterdam. Well, PSV finished as champions, a full six points ahead of their Amsterdam rivals, not a bad start then for Hiddink, and things were going to get a whole lot better at PSV Eindhoven under Guus Hiddink. That PSV side was full of world class players, players that would eventually go down in the folklore of Dutch and European football. Team captain and right back defender was Belgian international Eric Gerets, born in Rekem, Belgium he was part of that highly rated and exciting Belgium side of the mid 1980’s, Gerets picked up 86 caps for Belgium. He started his playing career at Standard Liege. Gerets joined PSV in 1985, when Ruud Gullit left PSV for AC Milan Gerets was made team captain.
Also in that PSV side was Frank Arnesen. Arnesen was from Copenhagen, Denmark. Arnesen was a highly respected midfielder for club and country. Arnesen’s compatriot, Søren Lerby was also a key member of that great PSV side. Lerby, also a midfielder, is famous for playing two competitive games in one day, in two different countries! Back in the November of 1985, he took part in a world cup qualifying game for the Danes against the Republic of Ireland in the Republic, Denmark turned the Irish over winning easily 4 – 1. That was the afternoon game, after a hurried flight to Germany he took part in Bayern Munich’s DFB Pokal Cup game against VFL Bochum. Again Lerby finished on the winning side as Bayern defeated Bochum 2 – 0. Willy van der Kerkhof was in that glorious PSV side too. A midfielder by trade, van der Kerkhof won sixty three caps for Holland appearing in the world cup final for Holland in 1974 along with his brother Rene. He was a part of some great Dutch international sides. He joined PSV in 1973 from Twente Enschede and was at PSV for fifteen years, playing 418 games, scoring 57 goals in his time in Eindhoven.
Ronald Koeman was another great player in that Lightbulbs team, the current Southampton team manager. Koeman started his career at Groningen in 1980, three years later the defender, who was just as good playing in midfield, moved to Ajax Amsterdam. In 1986 he was transferred to PSV where he would prove himself a world class player. In goal was Hans van Breukelen, bought from English club Nottingham Forest in 1984. The Utecht born goalkeeper (where he began his professional career), now occupies a place on the board of directors at PSV. Berry van Aerle was also in that PSV team, van Aerle was from Helmond, only a short drive from Eindhoven in North Brabant. He was at PSV for thirteen years, playing nearly three hundred games for the Eindhoven club, he also picked up thirty five caps for the Netherlands. PSV’s first round match in the KNVB Cup of the 87 – 88 season was away to De Treffers during the October of that year, PSV outclassed their amateur status opponents 6 – 0. A month or so later they met MVV Maastricht, PSV came away with a 3 – 1 win. PSV’s domestic league campaign for that season was extremely impressive, of their thirty four game league programme, they drew five games, and only lost twice, they won the rest, that’s how you win a league title.
Their 87 – 88 season started at home at the Philips Stadion with a 6 – 1 demolishing of neighbours Den Bosch. They then travelled to Enschede to play Twente, PSV drove back to Eindhoven with a 3 – 2 win. Like I said, it was a very successful domestic season for The Lightbulbs. That season, they began with a winning streak of twenty games, only being brought to a halt with a 0 – 0 draw with Groningen. During that winning streak they recorded emphatic wins against Utrecht, 9 – 0, Wim Kieft scoring a hat trick. They also walloped Willem II 6 – 0, Drechtsteden 7 – 0, and Den Haag 9 – 1. They were pretty much unstoppable. Their first defeat of that season didn’t happen until the March of 1988 when they lost away to Feyenoord 2 – 0 at the De Kuip stadion. PSV’s only other loss that season was a 2 – 0 away defeat to Groningen at Oosterpark. As that Eredivisie season was nearing the end, PSV still had fuel in the tank to inflict a walloping or two. In late March of that season they went to Zwolle and put them to the sword to the tune of 6 – 2 and in their penultimate game they beat Sparta Rotterdam at home 6 – 2. Their final game of that season was against Drechtsteden away, PSV ran out 4 – 0 winners, the title was theirs and to be frank, it was never in doubt, Hiddink’s PSV had ran the Eredivisie ragged.
The round of sixteen in the KNVB Cup couldn’t come round quick enough for the PSV Fans, which it did in the March of ’88. PSV met Den Bosch at The Blue and White Dragons (as Den Bosch are nicknamed), at the home of Den Bosch, the De Vliert Stadion. It was a lot closer than the league games that these two clubs had played together, but eventually, PSV won the game 1 – 0 in extra time. That meant in the quarter finals, PSV would meet RBC Roosendaal, another Brabant neighbour of PSV’s. At the Philips Stadion PSV ran out 2 – 0 winners. The semifinals were played in the middle of April, PSV travelled to RKC Waalwijk, the Eindhoven club put themselves in the final with a 3 – 2 victory. In the final Roda JC Kerkrade awaited them. In the league, Roda JC had ran PSV quite close in their two meetings, only losing 2 – 1 and drawing 1 – 1. The final ran to form really, when the referee blew his whistle for full time, it was 2 – 2. Unfortunately for Kerkrade, PSV’s Danish international Søren Lerby nicked a winner, so that meant with the league title about to be bagged, PSV were to be the double winners in the Netherlands that season. PSV’s biggest achievement of that year was the lifting of the European Cup, however it only took them eight games to get to the final, four ties in fact. In the first round, PSV met Turkish champions Galatasaray early in the season. The first tie was at home at the Philips Stadion, PSV recorded a 3 – 0 home win. Over in Turkey it almost went pear shaped for PSV as their Turkish opponents ran out 2 – 0 winners, a close thing but PSV would be going through to the next round with a 3 – 2 aggregate win. In the October and November of that season, PSV played their European Cup second round tie against Austria’s Rapid Vienna, PSV winning at home 2 – 0 and away 2 – 1. They had to wait until the March of that season to play their quarter final tie, there they met Bordeaux of France. Bordeaux gave PSV much more of test. The first leg of the tie for PSV was away in France, it ended 1 – 1, two weeks later in Eindhoven, the game finished 0 – 0, so PSV progressed to the semifinal against Spain’s Real Madrid courtesy of the away goals rule. The same thing happened in the semi, a 1 – 1 draw in the Spanish capital and a 0 – 0 draw at home in Eindhoven meant once again PSV had won via the away goals rule. In the final they met Portugal’s Benfica.
The final was held in Germany, at the Mercedes Benz Arena, then known as the Necker Stadion, home of VFB Stuttgart. For the final Hans van Breukelen was in goal for PSV, the back four was made up of team captain Eric Gerets, Ivan Neilsen, Ronald Koeman and Jan Heintze. In midfield Guus Hiddink selected Søren Lerby, Berry van Aerle, Gerald Vanenburg and Edward Linskens, up front was Wim Kieft and Hans Gilhaus. So that meant PSV would be playing a 4 – 4 – 2 formation, Benfica would also play in that formation. The Portuguese champions also had a few class players in their team that night including the Brazilian trio of Elzo, Carlos Mozer and Chiquinho Carlos. It was one of the closest European finals for years, I remember watching it at home as a kid thinking this football match is a chess game. It finished in normal time 0 – 0, extra time would be needed but that extra time yielded no goals, so it was down to penalty kicks. Hiddink picked Lerby, Koeman, Kieft, Vanenburg and Neilsen to take PSV’S penalties, they scored all those penalties, no misses, five out of five, but then Benfica scored all of their five penalties too, so it was down to sudden death. Veloso of Benfica missed his penalty and Janssen scored his, so an incredible season was capped for PSV, they lifted the 1988 European Cup, they had achieved the treble, becoming the second Dutch side to do so along with Ajax Amsterdam. Of course, 1988 was an excellent year for Dutch football, that summer the Netherlands won their first piece of silverware when they lifted the European Championship trophy in Germany. As if winning the treble wasn’t enough, Ronald Koeman, Berry van Aerle, Hans van Breukelen, Gerald Vanenburg and Wim Kieft all picked up winners medals as members of that victorious Netherlands side of 1988.