A multiple champion as a player, Ronald Koeman has returned to Barcelona 25 years after making history in the 1990s. Here we have five little known facts about Barca’s new first team coach:
1. HE WAS A KEY PART OF BARCELONA’S FAMOUS ‘DREAM TEAM’
Ronald Koeman began his playing career in the early 1980s for Groningen in the Netherlands. Then he went through the biggest clubs in his native country, until he caught the attention of his compatriot Johan Cruyff, who coached FC Barcelona. He moved to the Catalan club in 1989 and together they put Barça back on the map – Koeman now has a similar mission. There, he ended the club’s long-time wait for glory, winning four consecutive LaLiga titles between 1991 and 1994, in addition to the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cups and the European Cup. His extra-time goal in the 1992 win over Sampdoria at Wembley ended Barça’s decades-long wait for the European title.
2. THE TOP SCORING DEFENDER IN HISTORY
Speaking of goals, no defender has scored more goals in history than Ronald Koeman, who netted a whopping 250 times in 759 games. For FC Barcelona, despite playing as central defender, he managed the incredible mark of 87 goals in 264 LaLiga games. The most important of his goals was, without a doubt, the strike which handed the team its first European Cup title in 1992. He was also top scorer in the 1993/94 tournament with eight goals in 12 games, but he and the side fell short in the final, losing to AC Milan. Koeman also held the record for most free-kick goals for Barcelona (25) until he was overtaken by Lionel Messi (who else?).
3. HE PLAYED FOR THE DUTCH ‘BIG THREE’
Koeman is one of the few to have played for each of his country’s three major rivals. He first won the Eredivisie title with Ajax (1984/85), before moving on to PSV Eindhoven where he picked up a further three league titles and his first European Cup in 1988. There he also won his first individual awards, being named the top player in the Dutch league on two occasions. After his illustrious spell in Barcelona, he returned to his homeland with Feyenoord, where he ended his career in 1997. Despite this domestic success, the club he remains most closely associated with around the world is Barcelona.
4. HE HAS COACHED ALMOST ALL HIS FORMER CLUBS
His appointment as Barcelona coach leaves Groningen as the only club he played for that he is yet to coach. After retiring in 1997, Koeman kicked off his career in 2000 with former side Vitesse. From there he went on to Ajax, where he picked up two more Eredivisie titles, a Dutch Cup and Super Cup; to PSV, adding a Dutch Cup to his silverware collection; and then Feyenoord. He also managed the Dutch national team, – who he led to the postponed Euro 2020 tournament – a position he left this week to return to Barcelona.
5. HIS BROTHER WAS ALSO A PLAYER AND COACH
Ronald has an older brother, Erwin Koeman, who also started his playing career at Groningen a year earlier. Erwin, a midfielder, spent most of his career in his home country, leaving only to cross the border into Belgium where he played at Mechelen for five seasons. He made his name at Groningen, for whom he played across three different spells, and also played for PSV across two spells, winning three Dutch Cups. The Koeman brothers never played together at club level but were both part of the Dutch national team which won Euro 1988. He has also forayed into coaching after retirement, managing the likes of Feyenoord and Utrecht at home, and Fenerbahce, Hungary and Oman abroad.