Willem II (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪləm ˈtʋeː]), also known as Willem II Tilburg, is a Dutch football club based in Tilburg, Netherlands, that plays in the Eredivisie, the top tier in Dutch football. The team was founded on 12 August 1896 as Tilburgia. On 12 January 1898, the club was renamed Willem II, after Dutch king William II of the Netherlands, who, as Prince of Orange and commander of the Dutch army, had his military headquarters in Tilburg during the Belgian uprising of 1830 and also spent much time in the city after becoming king and would die while there.
Notable former players for the club include Dutch internationals Jan van Roessel, Joris Mathijsen, Jaap Stam, Frenkie de Jong, Marc Overmars, Finland's Sami Hyypiä and Virgil Van Dijk. The club's shirt consists of red-white-blue vertical stripes, inspired by the colours of the flag of the Netherlands. Willem II plays its home matches in the Koning Willem II Stadion, also named after the King. The stadium, opened on 31 May 1995, has a capacity of 14,700 spectators. The average attendance in 2004–05 was 12,500 people.
The club has won the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie three times each.
Established on 12 August 1896 in Tilburg as Tilburgia, the club first played at the Gemeentelijk Sportpark Tilburg and in 1995 relocated to the Koning Willem II Stadion, the ground where they have played ever since. Willem were champions of the Eredivisie in 1916, 1952 and 1955. The Tricolores also won two KNVB Cups in 1944 and 1963 and were also crowned champs of the Eerste Divisie in 1958, 1965 and 2014.
With regard to European competition, Willem II first appeared in UEFA Cup Winners' Cup of 1963 where they lost to Manchester United in the first round by an aggregate score of 7–2. In 1998–99, Willem once again competed in the Cup Winners' Cup and after beating Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia 6–0 in both legs, Willem then lost to Spanish side Real Betis in the second round, 4–1 on aggregate. A second place in the Eredivisie of 1999 guaranteed the club a UEFA Champions League berth for the first time. At the tournament's group stage, Willem only attained 2 points in their six group G matches and were thus eliminated. After reaching the KNVB Cup final in 2005 where they lost 4–0 against PSV Eindhoven, Willem II again qualified again for the UEFA Cup, in which they lost to French side AS Monaco in the first round by 5–1 on aggregate.
At the end of the 2010–11 season, Willem II were relegated from the Eredivisie for the first time in 24 years. In the 2011–12 season under new manager Jurgen Streppel Willem II was promoted back to the Eredivisie, but they went right back down the next season after finishing bottom of the table. The club became champions of the Eerste Divisie in the subsequent season and were thus promoted back to the Eredivisie.
In early 2015, Volkskrant journalists revealed that Willem II had its matches fixed by an "Asian gambling syndicate", who had paid Willem's players a total sum of €100,000 to lose matches against Ajax and Feyenoord (in October and December 2009). According to the journalists, midfielder Ibrahim Kargbo was the Asians' main contact within the club; Kargbo denies having accepted their money. The Royal Dutch Football Association called the affair "the most concrete case of match fixing in the Netherlands" and took legal action as well as asking UEFA and FIFA to reevaluate previous matches.
In 2019, Willem II reached the KNVB Cup Final for the fourth time in their history. They beat AZ Alkmaar in the semi-finals after a penalty shoot-out, but were defeated by in the final by AFC Ajax.
The fans of Willem II have close relations with the fans of English championship club Bristol City. For Bristol City's game on 31 October 2009 against Sheffield Wednesday, some Willem II fans were seen in the 'Eastend' of the Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol's most popular stand, and there were also songs sung about Willem II by City fans. Willem supporters have as well been known to travel to Bristol, with Bristol City fans heading the other way to Tilburg.