Coen Moulijn

An official UEFA documentary on the history of football addressed the great stars of the Dutch game prior to Johan Cruijff.  It spoke of Bakhuijs and Smit in the Thirties, of Lenstra and Wilkes in the Fifties and of Coen Moulijn in the Sixties.  Moulijn was a player who was the best of his era, but he played the sport in an era in which little was accomplished by Holland on the international level.  Born in 1937, he was stuck between two talented generations and never had the opportunity to represent Oranje in an international tournament.  Although Faas Wilkes was the first post-war international superstar from Holland, Moulijn would be the only one of the pre-Seventies stars to win an international club tournament. 


Like Lenstra before him, Coen Moulijn refused many foreign offers.   He was a superb outside-left who spent most of his career playing for Feyenoord.  During the Sixties the Rotterdam club was a team on the rise.  They constantly battled Ajax for the league title and embarked on many European adventures.  As early as 1963 Moulijn had the taste of European success when they went farther than any other Dutch club had gone before.  They battled their way into the Semi-Final where they faced Eusebio’s Benfica.  For their away match they sailed to Portugal in festive spirits but they were still out to sea when they played the Portuguese giants.  Feyenoord never stood a chance.  The Final was still a bridge too far but their time would come.

Moulijn was selected for the national team at young age.  As early as 1956 he found himself playing along great talents of the Fifties, many of whom had embarked on foreign adventures.  Moulijn benefited tremendously from their experience.  By the end of the decade Holland was a developing into a strong side again, but the aging generation of the Fifties were not Peter Pans and soon Moulijn found himself as the leader of a new generation.  Although some good players joined Moulijn in Oranje, such as Sjaak Swart and Klaas Nuninga, this generation of the Sixties simply did not have the talent in-house that the generation a decade later would have.  This meant great frustration for Moulijn and his peers because they embarked on failed qualification after failed qualification.  In 1965, Moulijn’s international career did have a highlight with his superb goal against England, which became World Champions a year later.  The match ended in 1-1 draw. 


By the end of the decade the young Total Footballers were appearing on the national team but Moulijn’s international days were coming to an end.  Moulijn played his last match for Oranje in 1969 in a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, it was his 38th cap.  Although the national team’s lack of success during his tenure may have difficult for a player of his stature to swallow, his greatest achievement still awaited him.  Prior to 1970 no Dutch club had ever won a European title.  Feyenoord had made it to the Semis in 1963 and Ajax had lost in the Final in 1969.  Now Feyenoord was in the Final of the European Cup and Moulijn was still an instrumental element on the team.  Feyenoord triumphed against Glasgow Celtic and Coen Moulijn had outdone all of his illustrious predecessors, he was European Champion.  He also helped Feyenoord to clinch the World Cup for Clubs title a few months later.  These successes had eluded all those great players who had preceded him. 


Coen Moulijn was still able to retire with great satisfaction.  He had been the outstanding player of his time, he had five league titles to his name, he had been European Champion and he had been World Champion for clubs.