Born in 1911, Joop “Kick” Smit was one of the goal grabbing stars of the Thirties. He formed with Bep Bakhuijs and Leen Vente the deadly attacking trio that became the strength of the national team during that decade.
Smit played his whole career for Haarlem. He distinguished himself with his technical versatility. He was twenty-three years old when he finally broke through onto the national team. There he joined Bep Bakhuijs and Leen Vente to create the legendary attacking formation. His position in Oranje resulted in the ouster of Wim Lagendaal who had been Holland’s most prolific scorer in the preceding years. The move was justified quickly as the sensational Smit scored two goals in his debut match.
Smit’s scoring remained highly consistent as he scored in almost every match leading up to the 1934 World Cup. His goal in Holland’s only match in the actual tournament meant that for forty years Leen Vente and he were the only two Dutchmen with World Cup goals to their name. Smit continued to show his outstanding skills in Holland’s international matches. Many viewed Smit as being a player who was ahead of his time. His versatility and ambidextrous shooting and passing ability demoralised defenders. He was a tireless workhorse who could be found all over the field at any time. His massive stamina and lung capacity simply wore down defenders.
Smit was such a good player on the fields of international football that soon the inevitable happened, foreign professional clubs came knocking. To put the skill of this player in perspective, Arsenal, one of the leading clubs in what at the time was the most advanced league in the world, England, was in negotiation with Smit in the mid-Thirties. In fact, Smit was the first Dutch footballer who had the opportunity to be professional. Arsenal offered him a handsome contract and he was given time to think it over. But then Karel Lotsy intervened and promised Smit that he need not worry about the future because there would be a future for him at the KNVB. His financial concerns eased, Smit declined the Arsenal offer and chose to remain an amateur in Holland.
Oranje was still able to rejoice from they great skill of Kick Smit. Bep Bakhuijs turned professional in 1937 and as the 1938 World Cup approached, Smit was seen as the man of moment. Unfortunately for Smit, his legacy in the 1938 Cup revolved more around his injury than his playing. Smit had claimed he had recovered from injury prior to the tournament but in the match itself it was aggravated and he was completely ineffective. Despite this incident Smit remained a steady force in Oranje. Although his international career was hindered by World War II, he was still selected a number of times for the national team when play resumed in 1946. This allowed him to have the unique experience of playing with some of the old Olympians of the Twenties, his own peers of the Thirties as well as the future generation of the Fifties led by the likes of Lenstra, Wilkes and Rijvers.
Smit distinguished himself throughout his career with his consistent scoring. He scored 26 goals in just 29 international matches. He was wanted by a top club from the most advance league in the world. But football ended for Smit when he retired. Lotsy, true to his character, never lifted a finger to help Smit when his playing days were over. There was never any future for him with the KNVB. Kick Smit should have gone to Arsenal.