RIP Coen Moulijn: the best left winger ever?
Coen Moulijn, one of the best wingers ever
Coen Moulijn died. It’s what happens to ones heroes. I was probably eight years old or younger when I watched him dribble past defenders, putting in perfect crosses… I saw how Real Madrid could only stop him by tackling him from behind. I remember how the rest of the Feyenoord team took the Madrid player out for lunch. The player was the dish.
And now he’s dead. Probably the best Dutch left winger ever ( sorry Piet. But you’re still alive, aren’t you?). Robin van Persie called him “The Messi of his days”… And he probably was.
Coen had a son – called Ray, after Raymond Copa – who was disabled. Coentje sacrificed a kidney for the kid. When Ray passed away some years ago, Coen lost interest in life. A brain haemorrhage ended his.
In 2009, Feyenoord and the city of Rotterdam revealed a statue for Coen Moulijn on the square in front of De Kuip.
Coen was a street footballer. Interestingly, he learned to kick a ball with both feet with the help of a factory wall in Rotterdam North. When years later the factory was demolished, the city of Rotterdam ordered the wall to be saved. It’s now a little monument to street football and called “Moulijn’s wall”.
He made his debut at 17 years old for Xerxes. A year later Feyenoord signed him for 25.000 guilders, a massive sum. Coen made his debut in 1955 against MVV and played 720 games for Feyenoord. Coen only played 38 games for Oranje. In 1961, Barcelona came to Rotterdam to negotiate a transfer for the little winger, but Feyenoord refused categorically to discuss it. They offered Coen an eight-year deal ( unheard of in those days). Coen invested his money in a fashion shop in Rotterdam, which would make him financially independent. In 1969, the International sports press named him the best winger of Europe. In 1970, he won the Europa Cup with Feyenoord ( against Celtic, goal Ove Kindvall) and in 1971 he won the World Cup for clubs.
Moulijn stopped playing football in 1972 and focused his efforts on his business after his career but he would always be the number one supporter (and consiglieri to many coaches).
Ajax right winger Sjaak Swart became friends with Coen. “Man, this is a blow. I saw him some months back and he was good… Coen and I first met on the pitch, haha. I was right winger, he was left winger, so we saw each other on the field and always talked. First it was a bit taunting and bravado but it became a friendship. We played together in the army team, played cards and had fun. And later we met at the official Oranje team of course. He was a phenomenon. Tremendous. If you’d advertise a card game with Moulijn sitting at a desk on the field, De Kuip would still be full with fans wanting to see him play cards, haha… He was a sweet man.”
The scene at Moulijn’s statue in front of De Kuip
Hans Kraay was a tough defender in Feyenoord in those days. “Coen was unique. Coaches tried to tell him how to play but he’d shrug and do his own thing. Like Messi. He played on intuition. His move to the inside was unique. He was able to make the opponent stand stiff like a puppet and he’d race past him. He didn’t look like much though. When I saw him first up close I didn’t even recognize him. He looked like an accountant.”
Rinus Israel: “He was a modest, hardworking man. I think the fans loved him because of that too. Whenever Coen would have ball possession, people would get religious experiences. I think he was the best Feyenoord player ever.”
Rotterdam mayor Aboutaleb: “Rotterdam lost a working class hero. He was an icon for the city, for Feyenoord and for football. He’s not longer a living legend, but a legend he’ll remain.”
Cor van der Gijp (Rene’s uncle) is Feyenoord eternal top scorer: “I’m not ashamed to admit that the only reason why I’m eternal top scorer is because of Coen. Everyone talks about Coen’s dribbles but it was his ability to cross that made him super. He was like Marc Overmars and John van ‘t Schip rolled into one. Like Robben and Beckham in one body. I’ve seen many many wingers but Coen was the best ever. The high of my career was simply the fact that I played with him.”
Wim Jansen, midfielder in the 1970s Feyenoord and Oranje and later in his career libero at Ajax: “I’m terribly sad. He’s the third player ( after Veldhoen and Laseroms) of the Golden Feyenoord that has passed on. Coen was tremendous. I dare to say that in pure football skills he was as good as Johan Cruyff. Johan was a leader and would impact the whole team, whereas Coen was an individual player, but man oh man, was he good. I was a fan first. As a kid I asked him for an autograph once and later in my career I actually played with him. We were roommates for quite a while. The best time of my life.”
Coen versus Johan. Wim Jansen ( right) looks on.
Wonderful little documentary ( in Dutch, unfortunately) with interesting old images. The ex-player Guus Haak is heard telling how the greensmen in De Kuip would show their grass after it’s mowed to Coen. Who sometimes would say: I need it shorter. Can you take some more millimeters off? And they’d go and mow it again for “Coentje”.
The Feyenoord – Real Madrid images are world famous ( in Holland). Coen is being tackled by a Real thug ( probably Sergio Ramos or Xabi Alonso) and the whole Feyenoord team decides to retaliate, hahaha….
A shorter look at Coen, with some Dutch commentary and probably some similar images.
And here’s sensational footage of the Feyenoord-Ajax game from 1964, with a young Johan Cruyff playing his first Classic. Feyenoord won that game 9-4, by the way, so all that humbug of the 1983 8-2 or the 2010 10-0 (vs PSV) is all old-hat really….
Coen Moulijn and Frans Bouwmeester form the left wing of Feyenoord. Hans Kraay sr is the tough defender in the Feyenoord jersey. Moulijn is tackled in the box and Feyenoord gets a penalty. We can see Sjaak Swart scoring a goal too. But the young hero of the day would be Hans Venneker. After a swift Moulijn action in the second half we see Venneker score his fourth goal. Frans Bouwmeester scored the 8-3 with his beautiful left foot. Ajax’ defense is horrible. And note the number of people sitting in the stadium!
Hans Venneker scores his fifth and Feyenoord’s ninth in close up and slo-mo.
And although this post is about Coen and his passing, Hans Venneker will be the subject of another post soon. This player had the most amazing career .
The legendary dribble king will be cremated on Saturday. A memorial service is organized in De Kuip, with 1000 invited guests. Supporters are able to follow the service from the stands.
Robin van Persie twittered: “He was a legend. A left winger and comparable to Messi today. A huge personality. Thank you, Coen, for all you’ve given us.”
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