Death of the Snake Man


One of the stars of the golden age of Dutch football Rob Rensenbrink has died aged 72.

A World Cup finalist in 1974 and '78, as well as a legendary striker for Anderlecht, he is perhaps best remembered for hitting the Argentine post in the last minute of the 1978 World Cup Final with the score at 2:2.

Holland went on to lose in extra-time and the slender Amsterdammer, nicknamed the Snake Man, missed his chance to win the Golden Boot and give the Dutch their longed-for first World Cup.

He had played the first 45 minutes of Oranje's greatest loss - their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final, before being substituted for a lack of fitness.

With Anderlecht he won the Belgian League and European Cup Winners Cup twice, against West Ham in 1976 and Austria Vienna two years later.

Rensenbrink was a rangy forward/winger who despite his undoubted ball skills and scoring ability lived somewhat in the shadow of Johann Cruyff and Piet Keizer for his country, scoring 14 goals in 46 games.

Anderlecht teammate Jan Mulder penned a memorable tribute to the Snake Man in David Winner's wonderful lovesong to Dutch football, Brilliant Orange:

"Some players have that. La beaute de geste they call it, the splendour of the gesture...He was only kicking a ball but I was moved to's art, not art but something more beautiful, more precise, it's like handwriting. He had beautiful handwriting, all with the left foot."

In addition to his nine seasons with Anderlecht he also played for Club Brugge, Toulouse and the Portland Timbers as well as DWS in his native land.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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