Marco van Basten’s international farewell

This day in football history


On October 14, 1992, Dutch captain Marco van Basten made his last appearance for the Dutch national team, in a World Cup qualifier against Poland. A persistent ankle injury ended his career shortly afterward.

The match was only his 58th cap and came just over two weeks before his 28th birthday. Four years earlier, he had starred for the Oranje in the European Championship, scoring a tournament-best five goals — including a hat trick against England — as the Netherlands took the trophy. A disappointing early World Cup exit followed in 1990, however, with Van Basten failing to find the net. (The Netherlands scored only three goals in the tournament).

In 1991–92, Van Basten finished his season with AC Milan as Serie A’s top scorer and won a handful of individual awards, including European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year. But he missed a critical penalty in the Netherlands’ Euro ’92 semifinal against Denmark and the Dutch lost 2–2 (4–5).

Van Basten hoped to turn the tide in the 1994 World Cup and captained the Netherlands for the start of their qualification campaign. He played in two matches, a 2–1 loss to Norway and the 2–2 draw with Poland, and then missed the team’s next two. Then, in May 1993, he suffered an ankle injury that forced him to sit out the entire 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons, as well as the 1994 World Cup. The injury never fully healed and forced his early retirement in 1995.

Although he never played for the Netherlands again, he returned to the team in 2004 as manager and spent four years in the role.