Netherlands mourns two-time World Cup finalist Rensenbrink

Two-time FIFA World Cup finalist and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winner Rob Rensenbrink has died aged 72.

Rob Rensenbrink in action for the Netherlands against Argentina in the 1978 FIFA World Cup final
Rob Rensenbrink in action for the Netherlands against Argentina in the 1978 FIFA World Cup final ©Getty Images

Former Dutch international Rob Rensenbrink has passed away at the age of 72.

Rensenbrink belonged to the golden age of Dutch football, playing in both the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cup finals. With the score tied at 1-1 in the final moments of the 1978 showpiece against Argentina, Rensenbrink was denied a probable winner as his shot struck a post. The Netherlands went on to lose 3-1 after extra time.

He was capped 46 times for his country, scoring 14 goals. His nickname in Dutch was 'Het Slangenmens' (Snake Man) because of his ability to wriggle out of even the tightest situations.

Rensenbrink was Anderlecht captain in the 1978 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final
Rensenbrink was Anderlecht captain in the 1978 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final©Getty Images

At club level, Rensenbrink played for DWS, Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Portland Timbers and Toulouse. He enjoyed most success with Anderlecht, winning two Belgian titles, four Belgian Cups and two European Cup Winners' Cups; he scored twice in both the 1976 final against West Ham and the 1978 final against Austria Wien. He was top scorer in Belgium in 1973, and player of the year three seasons later.

"Robbie Rensenbrink brought joy to every Anderlecht fan, as well as to anyone who loves football," said the club through its official Twitter channel. "Thank you Robbie! In our purple hearts forever."

"Rob was a brilliant player, but also a pleasant person to work with," said Ruud Krol, Oranje team-mate during the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. "I gave the pass from which Rob hit the post in the '78 final. But Rob should be remembered for much more than just that shot. The way he moved, he could really make things happen. There was something magical about the way he played."

Johnny Rep, another of the stars from the Oranje's feted team of the 1970s, added: "I always spent time with him when we played for the national team. It clicked between us. He was quite reserved, a bit shy actually. But what a good player he was. He had a great tournament in 1978."

Rensenbrink, who had been suffering with spinal muscular atrophy, died on 25 January.

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