'They murdered my father & brother, I hate them' - The rivalry between the Netherlands & Germany goes back to World War II

The two European giants have fought out some interesting battles in the past, but their complicated relationship seems to have improved in recent years
By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor

Tuesday's friendly between Germany and the Netherlands in Hamburg is one of the most highly anticipated games of this international round. Not only are the two countries considered to be among the strongest teams in the football world, but Oranje and the Nationalelf have quite a history together.

The two rivals first met in April 1910 when the Dutch recorded a 4-2 friendly win courtesy of a Jan Thomee brace, and they locked horns several more times in the first half of the 20th century. The Netherlands and (West) Germany proved to be equal opponents until October 1959, when the Germans defeated their neighbours 7-0, thanks to an inspirational performance by the brilliant Uwe Seeler.

Nevertheless, a
lthough the games between the Netherlands and Germany had always been quite special, the fierce rivalry between the sides didn't move to the next level until they first met in a competitive game.

The Dutch anti-German sentiments after World War II had been building up for a number of years, and Oranje considered the 1974 World Cup final against their arch-rivals, on German soil, to be the perfect opportunity to settle the score.

World Champions | West Germany defeated their great rivals to lift the 1974 World Cup

Unfortunately for the Dutch, things went all wrong after a brilliant start to the match as they were beaten 2-1 despite taking an early lead. Flamboyant midfielder Willem van Hanegem revealed after the match that they perhaps had the wrong priorities after going 1-0 up.

"I didn't give a damn about the score, 1-0 was enough, as long as we could humiliate them. I hate them. They murdered my family. My father, my brother and several family members. Each time I faced Germany, I was angst-filled," Van Hanegem infamously sniped.

The hatred wasn't two-way traffic, though, as the Germans never felt as strongly about the Dutch, something that's perfectly illustrated by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's comments ahead of their encounter at the 1978 World Cup.

"The pressure was tremendous. The popular press was blowing up the old rivalry. We knew that, on the pitch, the Dutch were ready and waiting for us. I think it's a true shame and pity that they regard football as an outlet for their hatred from the Second World War," Rummenigge stated.

0 - 1     2' Johan Neeskens
1 - 1     25' Paul Breitner
2 - 1     43' Gerd Muller
The Netherlands started the match as the sky-high favourites following their impressive performances in the early stages of the tournament, and they appeared to be on their way to glory after Johan Neeskens' early goal. Oranje, however, then became complacent and allowed Germany back into the game. Goals from Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller helped the hosts to a 2-1 half-time lead, from which Holland failed to recover.

The Dutch went without a win over their rivals for several years after losing the final, but they finally got their sweet revenge 14 years later at Euro '88, as Holland eliminated West Germany in the semi-finals after a superb team performance, a triumph that saw Ronald Koeman wipe his backside with Germany star Olaf Thon's jersey in front of the Oranje fans after the players had exchanged shirts.

Although the Netherlands had yet to play the final against the USSR, the victory in Hamburg prompted over 60 per cent of the Dutch population to come out on the streets and celebrate. Many considered the match against Germany to be the real final.

I had been waiting for that moment for 14 years. Before the game, I remembered my feelings watching TV as a teenager, and that boosted my anger. I am happy to have been able to give this gift to the older generation, the ones who lived through the war," admitted goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen.

1 - 0  55' Lothar Matthaus      
1 - 1  75' Ronald Koeman       
1 - 2  89' Marco van Basten       

West Germany again hosted the tournament, but unlike in 1974, they were unable to send the Dutch packing this time around. A second-half spot-kick from Lothar Matthaus gave the Nationalelf the lead, but Koeman restored parity with another penalty with 15 minutes left on the clock. Marco van Basten then shocked the home side with a superb finish in the closing stages to fire his side to the final.

Another memorable meeting between the two teams took place at the 1990 World Cup when Germany once more ended the Netherlands dreams of being crowned world champions after an encounter marred by several unsavoury incidents.

Holland were one of the favourites to win the tournament following their impressive performances in Germany two years earlier, but they were unable to control their temper against their arch-rivals, as both Van Breukelen and Frank Rijkaard made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Rijkaard fouled Rudi Voller, who dived and tricked the referee into giving the Dutchman a yellow card. The booking meant Rijkaard would miss the next match and he consequently spat at Voller in a moment of madness. Unsurprisingly, the AC Milan star was dismissed, while the victim of his action was also given his marching orders. Much to the disgust of the world, the Netherlands defender repeated his reprehensible act on his way to the dressing rooms.

0 - 1  51' Jurgen Klinsmann       
0 - 2  85' Andreas Brehme       
1 - 2  89' Ronald Koeman       

Only two years after the heated encounter in Hamburg, the rivals met again at a big tournament, with the Dutch aiming for their first ever world title. Germany were having none of it, though, as Jurgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme gave the Nationalelf a two-goal lead in the second half. Koeman scored a late consolation goal from the spot, but it was too little, too late for the Dutch as they left Italy frustrated.

For the third time in three consecutive major tournaments, the Netherlands once more met Germany in the group stage of Euro 1992, but the intense emotions between the two teams seemed to have died after the shameful incident involving Rijkaard and Voller in 1990.

A record number of 10 million Dutch fans watched the match, and the Ullevi Stadium was packed with Dutch supporters. However, German followers were far less enthusiastic about the game. The meetings with Holland had become special for them as well, but not as special as for the Oranje faithful. After all, Germany had been at war with several countries.

The Netherlands cruised to a 3-1 victory courtesy of goals from Rijkaard, Rob Witschge and Dennis Bergkamp. Both sides eventually qualified for the knock-out stages and another big showdown in the final appeared to be on the horizon. But, Holland slipped up against Denmark and the fierce rivalry between the neighbours came to a - temporary - end.


In the past 19 years, Oranje and die Mannschaft have met six times, and only once in a competitive game. The encounter, at Euro 2004, ended in a rather disappointing 1-1 draw, though, and the friendlies that have been played in the past two decades haven't offered much of spectacle either.

The current generation of players and fans haven't actively experienced World War II or the 1974 World Cup, and one could say that both countries have become rather friendly with each other in recent years.

Even an old 'warrior' like Franz Beckenbauer has nothing but good memories of the clashes with the Dutch in the 20th century and sees the match as a great derby.

"Matches against Holland have cost me years of my life. But I wouldn't have missed them for anything. Those matches always breathed football of class, emotion and unprecedented tension. Football in its purest form," the German legend commented.

Beckenbauer's feelings are shared by Holland boss Bert van Marwijk, who is glad that the tension has eased a bit this millennium.

"The players all know each other very well. They have either played with each other or have locked horns several times. They have a lot of respect for each other and that's the way it should be. Germany versus the Netherlands will always be a special game. I'm part of the 1974 generation, so I still vividly remember that time. The relationship has improved a lot since then, though" the Dutch coach stated on Monday.

Regardless of recent developments, there is no denying that the rivalry between the Euro 2008 finalists and the 2010 World Cup runners-up is still one of the fiercest in international football. It might be all quiet at the moment following a lack of high-profile meetings, but one badly timed tackle in Tuesday's game, or an eventual meeting at next year's European Championship could spark the rivalry
back to life .

Follow Stefan Coerts on