Former Netherlands coach Jan Zwartkruis died on Thursday at the age of 87.
A right-back for Amersfoort-based HVC in the 1950s, he became a captain in the Dutch Royal Air Force and took charge of the national military football team in 1962. He later transferred his skills to the civilian side, assisting national team coach George Knobel and his successor Ernst Happel. With the latter, Zwartkruis helped the Oranje reach the 1978 FIFA World Cup final, where they lost 3-1 to hosts Argentina.
Zwartkruis took sole command of the team later that year, leading them into the 1980 UEFA European Championship finals – but his side did not progress beyond the group stage and he was replaced by Kees Rijvers in 1981.
"I worked with him with the military team and later with the Oranje," former Netherlands forward René van de Kerkhof remembered. "He was a fantastic trainer. He was a man who kept his word. I learned a lot from him." The ex-PSV Eindhoven man also noted that Zwartkruis was a tough taskmaster. "After heavy training in the day, he still made us play a match in the evening," he recalled. "I am really glad I got to work with him."
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