Gullit started off as a street footballer in Amsterdam, and by the time he was 16, he had made his debut for HFC Haarlem in the Dutch first division.
The majestic Dutchman dominated in an era defined by great defenders, and he paved the way for an entire generation of world-class offensive players.
Becoming the Dutch footballer of the year earned him a move to Feyenoord, where he got to play alongside Johan Cruyff. After a successful time in Rotterdam, which saw him take on an increasingly attacking role, Gullit was snapped up by PSV Eindhoven, with another trophy-laden stint in the cards.
Ruud played a starring role in the Netherlands’ 1988 UEFA European Championship win, with an amazing goal scored by fellow dutch legend, Marco van Basten – that if you were born before 1980 – you’ll remember like it was yesterday!
Gullit, who grew into an attacking midfielder could also play as forward. He became one of the world’s best attacking players during his time at PSV Eindhoven, but became a legend as a Rossonero playing for Italian giant club AC Milan.
Becoming a Rossoneri Legend
Ruud Gullit won the 1987 Ballon d’Or off the back of his prolific last season with PSV Eindhoven.
In 1987, he signed for AC Milan for a world-record fee. Seeing that the Rossoneri were undergoing a Dutch revolution, acquiring Marco van Basten that same season and Frank Rijkaard the following year, it was the right move.
He helped Milan win a number of trophies in domestic as well as European championships as the team evolved into one of the greatest football teams in history. After taking some time to acclimate to his new surroundings, he became unstoppable despite going up against the meanest defenders Serie A had to offer.
Ruud Gullit showed his remarkable versatility on the big stage, slotting seamlessly into a more advanced playmaking position despite measuring in at over 6’1”. Just like his hair, you simply could not miss him on the pitch. He was spectacular.
Their 1989 European Cup triumph came in remarkable style, Ruud Gullit and company dished out a memorable 5-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the semi-final at the San Siro before putting four unanswered goals past Steaua Bucharest in the final – the flamboyant Dutchman scoring two of them.
Increasingly sidelined at AC Milan, a flagging Gullit sought fresh inspiration by decamping to Serie A adversaries Sampdoria, rediscovering his powers to such an extent that Silvio Berlusconi was moved to lure him back to the San Siro.
Gullit also played for English club Chelsea and managed them as well, before managing a string of clubs with little success.
He played his last game for the Dutch national team after a feud with national coach Dick Advocaat caused him to withdraw from the team in the build-up to USA 1994. Sometimes the brightest stars are destined to leave the game with as much gusto as with which they arrived. Join us in celebrating this absolute TENLEGEND.
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