The story of Los Oranje, the era when Real Madrid was dominated by Dutch players

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“The period when the players left one by one.”

1NEWS – In February 2006, Florentino Perez resigned as president of Real Madrid. Perez said the club needed a new direction.

Five months later, Ramon Calderon was chosen to replace him and the Dutchman started bringing in players from his country.

At least Los Blancos under Calderon signed five Dutch players. Among them is Ruud Van Nistelrooy who was bought from Manchester United.

It proved to be a successful purchase. Van Nistelrooy scored a hat-trick in his second game against Levante before scoring four goals in one game just a few months later.

Van Nistelrooy maintained his form throughout the season ending with 33 goals in 47 games across all competitions and earning the highly imaginative nickname “Van Gol”.

When Calderon became president, he promised to sign Arjen Robben. A year later, he fulfilled that promise.

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Not quite there, Calderon also brought in other Dutch players, namely Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe. Within one period of the transfer window, the three biggest Dutch talents were at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Robben missed the start of the season through injury, but Sneijder and Drenthe went straight into the starting XI. Drenthe even scored on his debut against Sevilla in the Super Cup and Sneijder scored the late winner against Atletico Madrid.

The Dutch players then worked hand in hand to bring Madrid to glory. In four seasons, the Dutch players helped Madrid win the La Liga title four times in a row. The Dutch quartet scored a total of 37 goals and 24 assists in the first two seasons in all competitions.

After Euro 2008, Madrid brought in another Dutch player. That player is Rafael van der Vaart from Hamburg.

However, the start of his career at Madrid was far from ideal. Van der Vaart started both Super Cup legs against Valencia and was shown a straight red card in the second leg.

However, with Sneijder absent at the start of the season through injury, Van der Vaart was immediately reinstated into the starting XI after his suspension was completed and scored his first goal in La Liga.

Two games later, he scored a hat-trick against Sporting Gijon.

That match also saw Robben score one goal and two assists, while Van Nistelrooy scored seven goals in his first 10 appearances in domestic and European competitions. Unfortunately, Barcelona managed to win the title in the 2008 season.

A change back was needed, so Calderon fired Bernd Schuster. He replaced him with Juande Ramos.

Not only that, Calderon also brought in other Dutch players. This time Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ajax Amsterdam’s mainstay striker is expected to be a long-term replacement for Van Nistelrooy who at that time started to get a lot of injuries.

The performance of the Dutch players was very good that season. Robben has thrived, scoring six goals and providing two assists in his new role on the right flank. Huntelaar has also been in good form, scoring eight goals in 15 appearances.

However, Los Blancos lost four games remaining to finish the season and they are second behind Barcelona.

That means Madrid have had their worst season in three years, and the Dutch contingent can’t help much.

The end of the Dutch era at Real Madrid

In late January of that year, Calderon stepped down as president. After the season ended, the figure who replaced him was Florentino Perez. Perez returned to the helm of the club and quickly reintroduced his Galacticos transfer policy.

First, the club broke the world transfer record to sign Kaka for 56 million pounds. Perez then did it again a few days later when Cristiano Ronaldo joined for £80m. Karim Benzema was also brought in.

With a new playmaker, winger and striker joining in, there is no room for Robben, Sneijder or Huntelaar. Robben was sold to Bayern Munich and Sneijder was released to Inter Milan. Meanwhile Huntelaar moved to AC Milan.

Van Nistelrooy still survives, but rarely plays due to injury. While Van der Vaart and Drenthe also survived. In the summer of 2011, all Dutch players were sold out. Madrid have not signed a Dutch player since.

(mochamad rahmatul haq/yul)

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