We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Β Learn more.

Who are the giants of Dutch sports?

From the soccer pitch to the speed skating rink, who dominates the scene?

Discover the most popular athletes from the Netherlands and witness how they’ve helped mold and define their respective fields.

Also check out our post about theΒ most popular soccer players from Netherlands.

#1 Johan Cruyff

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1947
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3 Ballon d’Or Awards

Johan Cruyff, regarded as one of the most influential figures in soccer history, revolutionized the sport with his unique style and vision. As a player and coach, he helped shape modern soccer and inspired countless professionals.

Cruyff’s legacy lives on through the numerous young talents emerging from his famed youth academy system.

#2 Ruud Gullit

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1962
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: European Footballer of the Year (1987)

Ruud Gullit, an iconic soccer player of his time, was known for his versatility, technique, and leadership. He played a pivotal role in the Dutch national team’s triumph in the 1988 UEFA European Championship.

Gullit’s forceful presence on the field and charisma continue to influence soccer players today.

#3 Edwin van der Sar

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1970
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: UEFA Champions League (1995, 2008)

Edwin van der Sar, a legendary Dutch goalkeeper, is renowned for his commanding presence, superb reflexes, and shot-stopping ability. He had an illustrious career across several European clubs, including Ajax and Manchester United.

Van der Sar’s impact on goalkeeping has left a lasting legacy in the world of soccer.

#4 Dennis Bergkamp

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1969
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3 Premier League Titles with Arsenal

Dennis Bergkamp, a highly skilled and elegant forward, is remembered for his extraordinary goals, vision, and technique. He cemented his legendary status during his time at Arsenal, becoming an inspiration for many aspiring soccer players.

Bergkamp’s impact on the game continues to be celebrated by fans and professionals alike.

#5 Sven Kramer

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Speed Skating
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1986
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 9 World Allround Speed Skating Championships

Sven Kramer, a dominant force in the world of speed skating, has consistently set new records and collected numerous victories throughout his career. His exceptional technique and fierce competitive spirit have made him a true icon of the sport.

Kramer’s achievements have inspired a new generation of Dutch speed skaters.

#6 Inge de Bruijn

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Swimming
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1973
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 4 Olympic Gold Medals

Inge de Bruijn, one of the most successful Dutch swimmers, is remembered for her incredible speed and dominance in the pool. She broke numerous world records during her career and won several Olympic and World Championship titles.

De Bruijn’s impressive career has left a lasting impact on the sport and inspired countless swimmers around the globe.

#7 Epke Zonderland

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Gymnastics
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1986
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: Olympic Gold Medal in Horizontal Bar (2012)

Epke Zonderland, popularly known as the “Flying Dutchman,” has dazzled audiences with his incredible performances in gymnastics. He has been a consistently high achiever in the world of artistic gymnastics, known for his gravity-defying skills on the horizontal bar.

Zonderland’s captivating performances have encouraged a new generation of Dutch gymnasts to aim for the sky.

#8 Fanny Blankers-Koen

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Track and Field
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1918
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 4 Olympic Gold Medals (1948)

Fanny Blankers-Koen, known as the “Flying Housewife,” was an exceptional Dutch athlete who dominated the 1948 Olympics, winning four gold medals in track and field events. Her incredible achievements during a time when female athletes were often overlooked have made her a trailblazer for women in sports.

Blankers-Koen’s legacy continues to inspire female athletes around the world.

#9 Arjen Robben

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1984
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 2013 UEFA Champions League Winner

Arjen Robben, a gifted Dutch winger known for his speed, dribbling skills, and lethal left-foot strikes, enjoyed an illustrious soccer career with clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. His talent, dedication, and unmatched work ethic have made him a true role model for aspiring players.

Robben’s excellence on the field has earned him a well-deserved place among the soccer greats.

#10 Marianne Vos

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Cycling
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1987
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3-time UCI Road World Champion

Marianne Vos, one of the most successful cyclists of all time, has consistently excelled in various disciplines such as road, track, and cyclocross. With numerous titles, World Championship, and Olympic medals to her name, Vos has established herself as a true icon for women in cycling.

Her incredible achievements and dedication have inspired countless cyclists across the globe.

#11 Piet Keizer

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1943
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3-time European Cup winner (now Champions League)

Piet Keizer was an exceptional Dutch soccer player, best known for his time with the renowned Ajax Amsterdam club. A skillful and intelligent winger, Keizer played a crucial role in Ajax’s dominance during the 1960s and 1970s, winning numerous national and international titles.

His lasting contributions to the sport are celebrated by soccer fans and professionals alike.

#12 Ireen WΓΌst

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Speed Skating
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1986
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 5 Olympic Gold Medals

Ireen WΓΌst, an outstanding Dutch speed skater, has left her mark on the sport with numerous Olympic, World Championship, and European titles to her name. Her remarkable accomplishments on the ice have made her one of the most successful speed skaters in history.

WΓΌst’s determination, hard work, and passion for the sport inspire a new generation of skaters.

#13 Estavana Polman

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Handball
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1992
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 2019 IHF World Women’s Handball Championship winner

Estavana Polman, an exceptional Dutch handball player, excels as a central back and is known for her incredible skill, agility, and determination. Her role in the Netherlands’ maiden triumph at the 2019 IHF World Women’s Handball Championship garnered her acclaim and key player status.

Polman’s performances serve as an inspiration for aspiring handball players across the nation.


Who is the greatest athlete in the history of the Netherlands?

Fanny Blanker-Koen, a sprinter and long jumper, is regarded as the greatest athlete in the history of the Netherlands.

Who is the most popular female athlete from the Netherlands?

Dafne Schippers, a world-renowned sprinter, is the most popular female athlete from the Netherlands.

Which sport has the most popular athletes from the Netherlands?

Football (soccer) has the most popular athletes from the Netherlands.

Which athlete from the Netherlands is the most popular internationally?

Arjen Robben, a football player, is the most internationally recognized Dutch athlete.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments