Peters recalls Dutch double
Wednesday, 29 February, 2012
Holland's Wembley match-winner looks back at two classic games against England.
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The Holland of Cruyff, Neeskens, Rensenbrink and Krol came over for a Wembley friendly in 1977 and gave Don Revie’s England a football lesson. But for one player in particular it was an extra-special day.
Jan Peters scored both goals as the Dutch left London triumphant. England hadn’t lost in their five previous matches against Holland, once putting the ball into their net eight times, but the World Cup Finalists gave arguably the best performance by a visiting team since that infamous match with the Hungarians in ’53. Inspired by Cruyff, the three-time European Footballer of the Year, and with the goals of Peters, Holland tore into England.
The home side were already short of confidence, having just lost a crucial World Cup qualifier in Italy, and the only surprising thing was that the Dutch took 29 minutes to score. Cruyff was always in acres of space when he received the ball and Neeskens looked dangerous as he continually burst forward from midfield. England’s tactic of directing high balls towards Kevin Keegan seemed inappropriate. He was one of the shortest men on the pitch.
Neeskens controlled a typically accurate pass from Cruyff and pushed the ball into Peters’ path in the box. Initially it looked as though it was just too far ahead of him but the NEC Nijmegen winger stretched out a foot to clip it over Ray Clemence and into the net.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0 and again the build-up was classy. Cruyff, involved in every attack, released the defender Hovenkamp and he made ground before slipping a precise pass inside to Peters. He was again perfectly placed to drive a shot past a prone Kevin Beattie and out of the reach of a diving Clemence. The Wembley crowd, impressively up to 90,000, cheered the magnificent Dutch team off as they left the field for their half-time break.
“That was a very important game for the national team,” said Peters, scorer of the Wembley brace for the Dutch. “Around that time we hadn't had very good results, but we won 2-0, I scored both goals, and it was the first and only time I played in the national team with Johan Cruyff, so for me personally it was extra-special.
“I was only playing for a small team, so to then play at Wembley, a place that every player thinks is the most beautiful stadium in the world. And to score two goals was wonderful. It was a highlight for me as a player.”
England had made virtually no impression in attack, though Dave Clement and Brian Greenhoff had put in some spirited running from full-back and midfield respectively. But there was a slight improvement in their play in the second half and Trevor Francis, making the first of 52 appearances in an England shirt, looked a good prospect for the future. One shot in particular forced a smart save from Dutch ‘keeper Schrijvers.
There was no disguising Holland’s dominance. Peters almost completed his hat-trick after another superb piece of play by Cruyff and England finished the match with a further dent to their confidence.
For Peters, the game meant even more as his impressive display was followed soon after by a move to AZ. “My first game for the national team was after the World Cup in Germany,” said Peters, who is now on the coaching staff at De Treffers, in the third league of Dutch football. “At the time I was playing my club football with NEC Nijmegen, a small club, so to play with some great players for holland was important for me and my career.
”They after the game at Wembley I moved to AZ in Alkmaar. At that time they were one of the best teams in the Netherlands. We won the cup three times, won the Championship once and also reached the UEFA Cup Final where we lost to Ipswich Town. It was a very good time for me.”
In 1982, Holland returned to Wembley and Peters was again part of the side, but the result wasn’t so good for the visitors as Tony Woodcock and Paul Marriner scored in a 2-0 win for the Three Lions.
“That was a special week for me,” said Peters. “One day before the game my youngest son was born, so that was more important to me than the game. But I remember that England were the better team and 2-0 was a fair result.
“It's always nice to play against England, because people watch the games in the Premier League and it's one of the best leagues in the world, so when we play against England it is always a friendly game. But if we play against England in the European Championship, it may be a bit different, eh!”
He continued: “They did not play the best football at the World Cup [in South Africa], they had good results, but the football was not what we like in Holland. But when all of the best players are in good form then I think we can win the Euros, but every team will be at a high level.
“I think Van Persie is one of the most important players in the national team. Robin plays in England very well, but in the national team he hasnt had a big impact. I hope in the Holland national team he can reach the same level that he plays for Arsenal.
“I think England also have a good team, but for Holland this is an important match as their last games were not so good, losing to Sweden and then to Germany. And now they must be in form as they prepare for the summer, but anything is possible in this game, a win for England or for Holland.”
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Last remaining tickets for Holland's next visit to Wembley on 29 February are still available to buy priced at £65, £55, £45, £35
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