The best striker in the world who became a pancake

Exactly two years ago, the world of Dutch football evolved around one thing: a pancake. Yes, we are talking about those round things you eat in the morning with lots of syrup.

In the Netherlands there is a strong tradition of fans mocking their opponents, the referee, the players, the board of directors and last but not least, the coach. Everything imaginable was chanted in stadiums across the nation of Total Football.

The ref’s mom was active in the oldest profession in the world, the opponents all resembled a male’s sexual organ and so on.. . But is seemed nobody really cared about the insults, they were common. Just as common as it was for English fans to go abroad and eat the chairs of the opponents stadium.

But let’s move on to the man in question. His holiness Marco van Basten had a fantastic career at Ajax and AC Milan but because of an ankle injury he was forced to retire early. The footage of him saying goodbye to a full San Siro is legendary, mainly because of a crying Fabio Capello.

The calm composed former striker of AC Milan played golf for about fifteen years until he became coach of the national team and finally of Ajax, the club where his career started. Marco was known for his killer instinct as a player, his icy glance and his calm and composed attitude. Even if fans would disturb his team’s training; he would stop the session, have a chat and explain why he was the coach of Ajax and why the hoodies opposite of him were a bunch of pillocks.

However, back in February 2009, the pressure on Van Basten was reaching an all time high. He spend about £25m on random players who did not deliver on the pitch which resulted in a poor league position and a 30th league title further away than ever.

The fans started to sing bad songs about the players, the board, of course the referee, and even at San Marco. But Marco being a San, a holy man, crowned once as world player of the year and three times as the best European player, never responded to the chants. It seemed he could not care less, calm as ever. He was a man on a mission and nobody would distract him from fulfilling it.

Back to the first of February. After losing 1-0 at home to Heerenveen, Van Basten was on his way to the dressing room when a fan proclaimed the legendary words: “Je wordt bedankt, pannekoek!” meaning: Thanks a lot ya pancake! The normally so calm and composed Van Basten looked like he was going to rip the guy’s head off, eat it and then floss his teeth with the lad’s scarf.

The myth ‘San Marco’ was gone: it was the beginning of his end at Ajax. A legend fell of his thrown, because of pancake. It dominated the news headlines and since that very day they nobody dared to repeat it. Holland had a new C-word and it started with a P.

From that moment on, San Marco would be remembered as the pancake… And of course the guy who won us the European Championship with possibly the best goal ever scored in a final (together with Zidane’s volley at Hampden).

Stef Meens

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