Willem Frederik Hesselink (8 February 1878 – 1 December 1973) was a Dutch football player and one of the founders of local club Vitesse Arnhem in 1892. He was known for his blue woolen cap, which he seemed to wear day and night, and was nicknamed the Cannon, although he was also referred to as the Doctor because of his doctorate in chemistry.

Willem Hesselink
Willem Hesselink, monochrome and adjusted photo.jpg
Personal information
Full name Willem Frederik Hesselink
Date of birth (1878-02-08)8 February 1878
Place of birth Arnhem, Netherlands
Date of death 1 December 1973(1973-12-01) (aged 95)
Place of death Bennekom, Netherlands
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1892–1899 Vitesse Arnhem
1899–1901 HVV Den Haag
1902–1905 FC Bayern Munich
1905–1915 Vitesse Arnhem
National team
1905 Netherlands 1 (0)
Teams managed
1902–1905 FC Bayern Munich (player-coach)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only


In 1890, Hesselink had been part of an attempt to get a cricket club off the ground in Arnhem and two years later he was one of the founders of Vitesse Arnhem. Cricket was the initial activity of choice but football took over quickly and Hesselink was soon the star of the team. Hesselink also excelled in athletics, holding several national records including the long jump. A team made up of him and his brothers became national champions in tug of war.

In 1899, he made the move to HVV and won two times the national championship.

In 1903, Hesselink moved to Munich to study Philosophy and Chemistry and joined FC Bayern Munich. Hesselink became Bayern's first international star. In three years he would grow out to be their star player, manager and chairman.[1] In January 1906 Hesselink left Munich, leaving a club that had grown considerably in his time at the helm in the hands of Kurt Müller, and returned to the Netherlands. Hesselink continued his footballing career, rejoining Vitesse and later becoming treasurer and president.

International careerEdit

In 1905 he started in the first ever home match of the Netherlands national football team, a 4-0 victory against Belgium. Some historians attribute one of the goals scored to him.

Personal lifeEdit

Over the years he built up a colourful curriculum vitae including doctorates in chemistry and philosophy, becoming director of the Keuringsdienst van Waren, being expert witness in several murder trials, founding a laboratory, and writing several health books.

His thesis on the secrets of Port wine made on the banks of the Douro has proved to stand the tests of time and is still quoted regularly.[2]

He died in December 1973 aged 95.


  1. ^ "FC Bayern members' club presidents". FC Bayern Munich. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  2. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2016/jan/12/the-forgotten-story-of-willem-the-cannon-hesselink-bayern-munich-player-manager-president