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Johannes "John" Jacobus Bosman (born 1 February 1965) is a Dutch retired footballer who played as a striker.

John Bosman
Bosman in 2011
Personal information
Full name Johannes Jacobus Bosman
Date of birth (1965-02-01) 1 February 1965 (age 54)
Place of birth Bovenkerk, Netherlands
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 1 12 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
Roda '23
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1983–1988 Ajax 126 (77)
1988–1990 Mechelen 61 (34)
1990–1991 PSV 30 (11)
1991–1996 Anderlecht 156 (71)
1996–1999 Twente 87 (34)
1999–2002 AZ 62 (24)
Total 522 (251)
National team
1986–1997 Netherlands 30 (17)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

A prolific goalscorer for both club and country, he played professionally for 19 years, most notably with Ajax (five seasons) and Anderlecht (five), surpassing the 100-goal mark with both clubs and winning a total of eight major titles combined.

Nicknamed Bossie, Bosman represented Netherlands at the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1988, helping the national team win the latter tournament.


Club careerEdit


Born in Bovenkerk, Amstelveen, Bosman began his professional career at AFC Ajax, making his Eredivisie debut on 20 November 1983 at the age of 18 in a 5–2 home win against Roda JC, scoring in the match.[1] He finished his first season with four goals in 14 games.

From 1984 to 1987, Bosman and fellow youth graduate Marco van Basten scored an astonishing 138 league goals combined (48 for Bosman), as the Amsterdam club won the 1985 national championship and two cups. After van Basten left for A.C. Milan in the 1987 summer, he netted 25 goals in 32 games as the team finished second to PSV Eindhoven; he also helped it to the season's UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, a 0–1 loss to KV Mechelenthe previous year, as Ajax won the competition, he was crowned top scorer with eight goals.[2]


Bosman signed for the Belgian club in the 1988 off-season, reuniting with former Ajax manager Aad de Mos. He scored twice against PSV, in a 3–0 home win in the first leg of the 1988 European Super Cup (eventual 3–1 aggregate success).

Additionally, Bosman netted in double digits in both of his seasons with the Yellow Reds, notably scoring 18 in his first as the team won the national championship after a 41-year wait.


After one year back in his country with PSV Eindhoven, as successor to Wim Kieft who signed with a team in France – he served mainly as a target player for Romário, but felt uncomfortable in that role, and was also under threat of losing his starting position to youngster Twan Scheepers – Bosman returned to Belgium and joined R.S.C. Anderlecht, reuniting with former Mechelen teammates Graeme Rutjes and Bruno Versavel (and eventually de Mos) and being dubbed "The Giraffe".

In 1996, new manager Johan Boskamp relegated Bosman to the bench, but he was overall a solid contributor in the conquest of three consecutive leagues and the 1993–94 Belgian Cup, his worst league output being six goals in 1994–95.

Later yearsEdit

Aged 31, Bosman returned to the Netherlands and signed for FC Twente, scoring 20 goals in his first season as the Enschede side finished third and qualified to the UEFA Cup, and being regularly used for the remainder of his spell.

He played a further three years with fellow league club AZ – also signing as a free agent – and finished his professional career at 37 with league totals of 522 games and 241 goals. He retired from football for good after a very brief spell with amateurs Amsterdam FC, later going on to work with Ajax as a striker coach.[3]

International careerEdit

Bosman played 30 times for the Netherlands, making his debut on 14 May 1986 in a 1–3 friendly loss in West Germany. He was selected by manager Rinus Michels for the UEFA Euro 1988 tournament, initially as starter, but lost his position after the 0–1 group stage loss against the Soviet Union, his position being taken by former Ajax teammate van Basten, who would be crowned the competition's top scorer as the national team emerged victorious. Bosman was however gracious and later said that he was very unlucky because "Holland was the only country whom van Basten could play for". Bosman credits van Basten as the greatest striker of all time.[4]

Bosman was also picked for the squad that appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, after Ruud Gullit refused to play for the national team in these World Cup, being an unused squad member.

Bomb incidentEdit

Bosman scored nine of his 17 international goals against the same opponent, Cyprus, in three different matches. In a Euro 1988 qualifier on 28 October 1987, in Rotterdam, a homemade bomb or firework exploded in the early stages of the contest close to Cypriot goalkeeper Andreas Charitou; Charitou was stretchered off and replaced, and the Cypriot players left the field in protest and refused to continue playing.

After much pressure from the Dutch side, Luxembourg referee Roger Philippi decided the game could continue. The match ended 8–0 with Bosman establishing a national-team record of five goals in one game, but it was never officially recognised, as UEFA decided that the match was invalid and Cyprus were awarded a 0–3 victory instead, giving Greece the opportunity to qualify; the Dutch made an appeal which carried the risk of exclusion, with Dr. Greep stating that Charitou was not actually injured, which resulted in a replay in Amsterdam.

On 9 December 1987, Netherlands won 4–0 and Bosman netted a hat-trick to see his team through to the final stages in West Germany. Greece were extremely unhappy with the decision, accusing UEFA's West German chairman of preferring a Dutch team in the finals, bringing a larger crowd of supporters to the stadia; after the protests, the Hellenic Football Federation decided to move the last group match to a small stadium in Rhodes and field a sub-standard team – Netherlands also won that game (3–0).

The bomb was hidden in a tennis ball. The thrower was 21-year-old John Staal from Oss, who was immediately arrested.[5][6]

Personal lifeEdit

In October 2001, Bosman's five-year-old son Devin died in a traffic accident.[8]


  1. ^ Column 'vergeten' voetbalhelden: John Bosman ('Forgotten' heroes column: John Bosman); NH, 29 February 2016 (in Dutch)
  2. ^ Cup Winners Cup Topscorers; at RSSSF
  3. ^ John Bosman op zijn plek als jeugdtrainer: 'Ik hoef geen eigen team' (John Bosman op zijn plek als jeugdtrainer: 'Ik hoef geen eigen team'); Het Parool, 30 April 2016 (in Dutch)
  4. ^ "Van Basten ends Dutch wait". 5 October 2003. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  5. ^ Lucky Orange in 1988 Archived 30 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Netherlands World Cup Blog, 18 May 2008
  6. ^ John Staal reageert op bomincident in 1988 (John Staal responds to bomb incident in 1988); Omroep Brabant, 1 June 2008 (in Dutch)
  7. ^ "John Bosman". European Football. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  8. ^ Oproep: condoleance John Bosman (Death: condolences to John Bosman) Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine; F-Side, 17 October 2001 (in Dutch)

External linksEdit