Pierre van Hooijdonk

Pierre van Hooijdonk (Dutch pronunciation: [piˈjɛr vɑn ˈɦoːi̯dɔŋk]; born 29 November 1969) is a Dutch former professional footballer who played as a striker. He had spells with clubs across Europe where he was a prolific goal scorer. Van Hooijdonk was capped 46 times for the Dutch national team, for which he scored 14 goals and played in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2000 and Euro 2004. Noted for his bending free kicks, he is regarded by some as one of the greatest free kick specialists of all time.[3][4][5]

Pierre van Hooijdonk
Genève Indoors 2014 - 20140114 - Pierre van Hooijdonk.jpg
Van Hooijdonk in 2014
Personal information
Full name Pierre van Hooijdonk[1]
Date of birth (1969-11-29) 29 November 1969 (age 53)[2]
Place of birth Steenbergen, Netherlands
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)[2]
Position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1991 RBC Roosendaal 69 (33)
1991–1995 NAC Breda 115 (81)
1995–1997 Celtic 69 (44)
1997–1999 Nottingham Forest 71 (36)
1999–2000 Vitesse 29 (25)
2000–2001 Benfica 30 (19)
2001–2003 Feyenoord 61 (52)
2003–2005 Fenerbahçe 53 (32)
2005–2006 NAC Breda 17 (5)
2006–2007 Feyenoord 37 (8)
Total 551 (335)
International career
1994–2004 Netherlands 46 (14)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Early lifeEdit

Van Hooijdonk was born in Steenbergen. His Moroccan biological father left Van Hooijdonk's mother before his birth. He grew up in Welberg (nl), a small village near Steenbergen. His favourite team was NAC Breda whose game he followed wholeheartedly. At 11 years old, while playing with local team SC Welberg's youth squad, he took part in a trial on the NAC open day, impressed their scouts and joined the club. At that time he played mainly as a right midfielder; when he was 14, he was cut from NAC's academy and he went into amateur football with VV Steenbergen.[6][failed verification] He then switched his position to become a striker, and ascended to the club's first team.[6]

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

As RBC Roosendaal were in financial trouble they were obliged to having youth players feature within their senior teams. In the 1988–89 season, Van Hooijdonk made his debut for RBC as a substitute. While playing as a sub for the club he soon scored three goals. With the club's main striker suffering from an injury Van Hooijdonk played almost the majority of the season's second half, scoring six goals in 32 matches. He signed his first professional contract with RBC soon thereafter. Van Hooijdonk made a greater impression in the following season becoming a key player for the team, scoring 27 times in 37 matches. Several teams went on to show interest in him such as NAC Breda. Van Hooijdonk didn't hesitate in signing a contract with NAC, and rejoined his boyhood club.[citation needed]

NAC paid 400,000 guilders for the transfer of Van Hooijdonk. In returning to NAC, he was both positive in his outlook as well as determined to illustrate his quality. Van Hooijdonk succeeded at such going on to help the team win promotion to the Eredivisie in 1993. During his time at the club he got his first call up, in December 1994, to play for the Netherlands. During the rest of that season, he set a scoring streak in 11 consecutive Eredivisie matches. Within the 1994–95 winter break, Celtic made a deal with NAC which saw Van Hooijdonk join up with the Scottish outfit at once. Altogether he scored 81 goals in 115 appearances for NAC.[citation needed]


Van Hooijdonk made his Celtic debut on 11 January 1995 in a league match against Hearts at Hampden Park. The striker made an instant impact for his new team by scoring a stunning opening goal. Hearts went on to equalise and so the game finished 1–1. Van Hooijdonk settled quickly at Celtic and he became an instant favourite with the fans. When Van Hooijdonk arrived at Celtic they had not won any trophies in six years. With Van Hooijdonk in tow Celtic won the Scottish Cup of that season with him being the only goalscorer in the final against Airdrie in May 1995.[7]

The following 1995–96 season, saw Van Hooijdonk in outstanding form for Celtic. He scored 32 goals, including 26 in the League which saw him finish as top scorer. Of particular note was his prowess at scoring from free kicks. However, despite Van Hooijdonk's goals and the attractive football being played by manager Tommy Burns' side, Celtic still finished the season without any silverware.[citation needed]

Van Hooijdonk's next season at Celtic, 1996–97, was an unhappy time for both the player and the club. A row with the Celtic chairman/owner, Fergus McCann, would rumble on and as a result, he often ended up on the bench. The manager of the Dutch national team Guus Hiddink then told him he wouldn't be selected for such as long as he was not a regular at Celtic.[citation needed]

He eventually left Celtic over a wage dispute towards the end of the 1996–97 season, stating that the reputed £7,000 a week rise he was being offered might be "good enough for the homeless" to live on "but not for an international striker." In total Van Hooijdonk scored 52 goals for Celtic in 84 appearances.[8] He went on to join up with Nottingham Forest in a deal worth up to £4.5 million.[citation needed]

Nottingham ForestEdit

Van Hooijdonk arrived as Forest were in deep relegation trouble, struggling to maintain their position in the Premier League. He made his debut for Forest in a 1–1 draw against Blackburn on 11 March 1997. It was hoped the arrival of van Hooijdonk would kick-start their survival, but he scored just one goal in his eight games for them that season. Although only one of those games was lost, the other seven were drawn and Forest were relegated. He immediately pledged his future to help the club regain its status.[citation needed]

The following season was an unqualified success, both for him and Forest. Forest won the title and promotion in a competitive league (facing stiff opposition from Sunderland, Charlton and Middlesbrough), with van Hooijdonk scoring 34 goals and building up a good partnership with strike partner Kevin Campbell, who scored 23 times. During the 97-98 season, Van Hooijdonk clashed with manager Dave Bassett over the setup of the team, and desired a move to PSV Eindhoven. Newcastle United also offered £7 million for him, but Bassett would only let Van Hooijdonk go for £10 million.[9] He was a regular in the Dutch national squad, and was named in the Dutch squad for 1998 FIFA World Cup in France where he scored as a substitute in the match against South Korea.[citation needed]

After the World Cup had finished he discovered that the promised strengthening to the Forest squad to enable them to cope back in the Premier League had not transpired, indeed that his strike partner Campbell (who had an ongoing back injury) had been sold to Trabzonspor for £2.5m. The club had also announced that Scot Gemmill was dropped from the first team for refusing to sign a new contract, and that club captain and terrace hero Colin Cooper was being allowed to leave to the team promoted alongside them as runners up, Middlesbrough. Van Hooijdonk asked for a transfer. The club's new owners refused. Van Hooijdonk announced that he had been told previously that he could leave the club at the end of the 1997–98 season if he so wished, that he felt betrayed by the club's owners who had failed to deliver on their promises to him regarding the strengthening of the team, and that he felt he could no longer play for his employers. Forest, desperate for a striker, refused to allow him to be transfer-listed again, so van Hooijdonk announced his intention to strike. He kept fit by training with his former club NAC Breda.[citation needed]

Because of his behaviour, Van Hooijdonk received criticism both from fans and from his teammates, not least from team-mate Steve Stone and manager Dave Bassett. The club refused to listen to offers for him, as they needed a top striker and the stand-off lasted until early November when van Hooijdonk, realising that he had no choice, agreed to return and played in a game against Wimbledon.[10] By this time the club was again in relegation trouble: bottom of the league without a win in nine games. He played sporadically between then and the end of the season. He scored 6 goals in his 19 starts in the Premier League, including his first goal in his second game back against Forest's fierce rivals Derby County, helping them to a draw. Infamously after this goal, most of his team-mates refused to celebrate alongside him, instead going to Scot Gemmill, the man who crossed the ball to him. He also scored a last-minute home equaliser against rivals Liverpool with a trademark free-kick that protected Forest's proud unbeaten home run against them that went back to 1984.[11] In another game against Leicester City he scored to put Forest 1-0 up but was then sent off as they ultimately lost 3-1.[12] Forest ended the 1998–99 Premier League season bottom and were relegated. Ralf Rangnick, then coach of VfB Stuttgart, wanted to bring Van Hooijdonk to Germany, but chairman Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder refused, feeling that Van Hooijdonk was too expensive at the age of 30.[13][14]


At the end of the 1998–99 season he returned to the Netherlands with SBV Vitesse in a £3.5m move to continue his career after and did much to convince his critics of his goal-scoring abilities when he helped the Arnhem team to a UEFA Cup spot with 25 goals in one season. He also returned into the Dutch national team in this period.[citation needed]


Van Hooijdonk then signed a three-year deal for Benfica in 2000 where he joined up with one of the former Celtic F.C. 'three amigos' Jorge Cadete. He eventually only played one season for them with 19 goals. At Benfica he faced the same structural problems as he faced at Nottingham Forest and the team used three different managers throughout the season. The new chairman at the club had no faith in Van Hooijdonk and he was set back into its second team. Benfica was planning on selling him to another foreign club, but all Van Hooijdonk wanted was to return to his home country. At the end of the 2000–01 season, he signed for his fourth Dutch club, Feyenoord.[citation needed]


While at Feyenoord, he will always be remembered for his free kick abilities and his integral part in the UEFA Cup 2001–02 win. He scored two goals against Borussia Dortmund in the final at De Kuip and his performances helped Feyenoord beat Freiburg, Rangers, PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan in earlier rounds.[15][16]

Later careerEdit

Van Hooijdonk in 2012

Never one to settle down, van Hooijdonk joined Fenerbahçe SK at the beginning of the 2003–04 season where he featured in 52 games for the Turkish club and scored 32 goals (24 in his first season). He was nicknamed Aziz Pierre (means Saint Pierre in Turkish) by fans. He wore the number 17, the same number that he wore for the national team. He won the Süper Lig title in 2003–04 (the first top-tier championship of his career) and again the following year in 2004–05 with Fenerbahçe.[citation needed]

In mid-2005, he signed again for his former club, NAC, playing 17 games, scoring 5 goals. During the winter transfer window of the 2005–06 season, he signed for another former club, Feyenoord, where he scored 8 goals in 37 appearances. On 17 October 2006, Van Hooijdonk announced his retirement at the end of the 2006–07 season.[17] On 13 May 2007, he eventually played his final professional match after a draw with Feyenoord against FC Groningen in the play-offs,[18] having played 550 games (335 goals) in the highest leagues in 18 seasons of professional football.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Van Hooijdonk is the father of Sydney van Hooijdonk, who is also a professional footballer.[20]

It was reported in May 2008 that van Hooijdonk had been a victim of fraud and had lost £2,000,000 to a scam, which involved him investing in a Chinese textile company that did not exist.[21]

Career statisticsEdit

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[22][23]
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Europe Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
RBC 1989–90 Eerste Divisie 32 6 32 6
1990–91 Eerste Divisie 37 27 37 27
Total 69 33 69 33
NAC 1991–92 Eerste Divisie 35 20 35 20
1992–93 Eerste Divisie 33 26 33 26
1993–94 Eredivisie 31 25 31 25
1994–95 Eredivisie 16 10 16 10
Total 115 81 115 81
Celtic 1994–95 Scottish Premier Division 14 4 5 4 0 0 19 8
1995–96 Scottish Premier Division 34 26 4 4 3 2 3 0 44 32
1996–97 Scottish Premier Division 21 14 2 1 2 1 4 0 29 16
Total 69 44 11 9 5 3 7 0 92 56
Nottingham Forest 1996–97 Premier League 8 1 0 0 0 0 8 1
1997–98 First Division 42 29 1 1 4 4 47 34
1998–99 Premier League 21 6 0 0 1 0 22 6
Total 71 36 1 1 5 4 77 41
Vitesse 1999–2000 Eredivisie 29 25 3 1 4 2 36 28
Benfica 2000–01 Primeira Liga 30 19 3 2 2 2 35 23
Feyenoord 2001–02 Eredivisie 33 24 2 0 12 9 47 33
2002–03 Eredivisie 28 28 4 0 5 1 37 29
Total 61 52 6 0 17 10 84 62
Fenerbahçe 2003–04 Süper Lig 34 24 3 1 37 25
2004–05 Süper Lig 19 8 2 1 5 1 26 10
Total 53 32 5 2 5 1 63 35
NAC Breda 2005–06 Eredivisie 17 5 3 3 20 8
Feyenoord 2005–06 Eredivisie 11 3 0 0 0 0 11 3
2006–07 Eredivisie 26 5 2 0 4 0 32 5
Total 37 8 2 0 4 0 43 8
Career total 551 335 34 18 10 7 39 15 634 375



Nottingham Forest





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  2. ^ a b "Pierre van Hooijdonk: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  3. ^ Rice, Simon (11 September 2009). "The Ten Best Free-Kick Specialists: Pierre Van Hooijdonk". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  4. ^ Woo, Jonathan (3 May 2011). "World Football: Ranking the Top 10 Long Free Kick Specialists of All-Time". Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  5. ^ Kyle, Gregor (17 January 2019). "The art of the free-kick, with former Celtic star Pierre van Hooijdonk". Football Scotland. Glasgow: Reach Scotland. Retrieved 23 February 2020. Van Hooijdonk stands alongside Sinisa Mihajlovic, Andrea Pirlo and Juninho Pernambucano as one of the all-time great free-kick takers, ...
  6. ^ a b "V.V. "Steenbergen"". Vvsteenbergen.nl. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Celtic's compensation". The Independent. 27 May 1995. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  8. ^ Gordon Thomson. The worst sporting diplomats Archived 2 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine Observer Sport Monthly, 2 March 2003, Retrieved 11 January 2007
  9. ^ The big interview: Pierre Van Hooijdonk - "I should've waited before going on strike at Forest... but Dave Bassett was a snake", FourFourTwo; Flanagan, Chris, November 23, 2016
  10. ^ "Van still the man but Gayle blows down Bassett's house of straw". Guardian. 7 November 1998. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  11. ^ "head to head". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  12. ^ "Forest's Flying Dutchman arrives late again". Guardian. 14 December 1998. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  13. ^ Interview with Ralf Rangnick, "I didn't fail with my concept", Spiegel Sports, April 27, 2001
  14. ^ Ralf Rangnick:‘Johan Cruijff zit in mijn voetbalziel verankerd’, Vi, Peter Wekking, December 7, 2016
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  16. ^ a b "Final joy for Feyenoord". UEFA. 9 May 2002. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Van Hooijdonk sets retirement date". UEFA.com. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
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  25. ^ Hugman, Barry J., ed. (1998). The 1998–99 Official PFA Footballers Factfile. Harpenden: Queen Anne Press. p. 352. ISBN 978-1-85291-588-9.
  26. ^ Ross, James M. (5 June 2014). "Premier League & Football League Div 1 Leading Goalscorers 1993–2004". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  27. ^ "Pierre van Hooijdonk's reason for going on strike at Nottingham Forest was 'spot on' says ex-Red". Nottinghamshire Live. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Europa League 2001/2002 » Top Scorer". WorldFootball.net. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  29. ^ "Eredivisie 2001/2002 » Top Scorer". WorldFootball.net. Retrieved 26 March 2015.

External linksEdit