||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
|Date of birth||29 March 1973|
|Place of birth||Emst, Netherlands|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Current club||Ajax (Director of football)|
|1987–1990||Go Ahead Eagles|
|1990–1991||Go Ahead Eagles||11||(1)|
|2008–2009||Go Ahead Eagles||24||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14 May 2009.
† Appearances (Goals).
Marc Overmars (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑrk ˈoʊ̯.vər.mɑrs], born 29 March 1973) is a Dutch former footballer, who is the Director of football at Ajax. Throughout his footballing career, he played as a winger and was renowned for his speed.
Overmars was born in Emst and harboured a love for football at an early age. He began his playing career at SV Epe, before joining Go Ahead Eagles’ youth team in 1987. He secured a place in his first team by the 1990–91 season, but joined Willem II in time for the following season. His stay at the club was also short; after 31 appearances he signed for Ajax in 1992. He established himself as a key member of the team that won three Eredivisie titles from between 1994 and 1996 and the UEFA Champions League in 1995. In December 1995, Overmars sustained a cruciate ligament injury which ruled him out of playing for eight months. Ajax concurrently lost several of its emerging talent due to the introduction of the Bosman ruling, which allowed players to leave for free if their contracts were not renewed.
In 1997 he joined Arsenal; his performances at the club were indifferent to begin with and attracted criticism from football pundits and fans alike. By the end of his first season at the club, Overmars became a focal point of the team’s league and cup double success. He scored the winning goal against league rivals Manchester United which set Arsenal on their way to securing the Premier League title and opened the scoring against Newcastle United in the 1998 FA Cup Final. In 2000, he moved to Barcelona in a deal worth £25 million; this made him the most expensive transfer in Dutch football history. His stay at the club was unsuccessful as Barcelona failed to win silverware and they were blighted by numerous managerial changes. A persistent knee injury prompted Overmars to announce his retirement in 2004, but he reversed his decision in 2008 and went on to play one season for Go Ahead Eagles before retiring again. In 2012, he was named as Ajax's Director of football.
Overmars represented the Netherlands national football team for eleven years. He made his debut in 1993 against Turkey, a match in which he scored in, and was a member of the Netherlands squads for two major tournaments, the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups. Overmars remains the youngest player to have earnt 50 caps for the Netherlands.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Style of play
- 5 Post-football career
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Honours
- 8 Career statistics
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Overmars was born in Emst, in the province of Gelderland. He grew up on a family farm, with his parents, and assisted his grandfather with the potato harvest each year. There were no machines or tractors, so when the time came to extract the potatoes, his family tied a rope around Overmars’ waist, connected it to a cart and made him run while they pulled the crop out.
His father Ben described him as a "clumsy" child, whose main interest was playing football: "He used to come down 24 stairs to breakfast bouncing a ball on his head." This had an effect on his schoolwork; Overmars was disinterested in school, but did pass "a couple of GCEs." Ben did not know whether he made the effort to take his exams just to please him. As a teenager, Overmars did weight-training which improved his speed. He also attributed his pace to his mother: "She was quick but, being a farmer, had no time for sports."
In July 1992 Overmars left Willem II and signed for Ajax. Both clubs settled on a transfer fee of ƒ2.5 million, after Ajax's initial bid of ƒ1.5 million had stalled the move. Manager Louis van Gaal was very fond of Overmars beforehand and described him as a "multi-functional player". Overmars's debut came in a 3–0 win against FC Dordrecht on 16 August 1992. His first goal for Ajax was away to RKC Waalwijk in October and he scored a further seven goals in the 1992–93 season. Several teams chose to combat Overmars's threat with heavy tackles; he detested this, adding: "I do not fall on purpose, but if they keep kicking, I would sometimes give something back in return." Ajax finished the camapign third in the league; their form in the final few months was "maddening...one week crushing eventual champions Feyenoord 5–0, the next dropping points to minnows like MVV Maastricht." The team lost to Auxerre in the UEFA Cup, but did not end the season trophyless – they beat Heerenveen 6–2 to win the KNVB Cup. Overmars scored two goals in the final.
Ajax began the 1993–94 season with a 4–0 defeat of Feyenoord to lift the Dutch Supercup; Overmars scored the team's fourth goal. In August 1993, he was awarded the Dutch Golden Shoe, as voted for by Dutch journalists. Overmars was happy with how his career progressed and said it was a "dream" to play for Ajax. Although he featured in 42 matches – five fewer matches than in the previous season, his goal count was much improved. He scored 12 goals in total, all of which came in the Eredivisie. His goals helped Ajax regain the league after a three-year wait; the team ended the campaign 25 points clear of second place Feyenoord.
Overmars enjoyed further success in the 1994–95 season. Ajax retained the league and won the UEFA Champions League, beating Milan in the final. His only goal of the latter competition came against Bayern Munich at the semi-final stage. In later years Overmars criticised the expansion of the Champions League to include non league champions: "When I won it with Ajax it was only the teams who finished first who took part. It's not special any more. I think the Champions' League is just a starter for what they want to do in the future, create a European League." Overmars's exposure to European football had prompted him to be a sought-after player in England. He knew of Arsenal's interest, but was puzzled as to why a move "didn't work out." When later informed of Manchester United's interest and asked he would consider a move to the club, he replied, "No thanks I want to stay with Ajax for two more seasons."
In December 1995 Overmars injured himself during Ajax's match against De Graafschap. Close examination showed the player had tore ligaments on his left knee, which was "completely severed". He therefore missed the remainder of the 1995–96 season and advised Ajax to purchase a new striker to make up their loss. The club however signed left winger Peter Hoekstra in January 1996. Ajax played a second consecutive Champions League final in May 1996, but lost to Juventus by a penalty shoot-out. They did however retain the league for a third season.
The introduction of the Bosman ruling in 1995 had negative consequences for Ajax in the 1996–97 season. The club lost several players, and reinvested poorly. Injuries also affected their challenge for honours; many players were exhausted because of the short summer break. Chairman Michael van Praag was determined to keep the club's players and revealed Overmars had signed a four-year contract in 1996. He added, "We are not going to allow them to break their contracts so they are not leaving." On the pitch, Overmars made his return from injury against AZ Alkmaar on 28 August 1996. He had his least productive season for Ajax, scoring two goals. The club finished the season in fourth position.
Overmars signed for Arsenal in June 1997. The fee was reported to be between £5 million and £7 million,[a] with the player on a five-year contract, paid £18,000 per week. Overmars relished the challenge of playing in England: "I like English football because there is more pace. With my speed and quality I think it will be good for me here." Arsène Wenger, the manager of Arsenal believed Overmars had his "best years ahead of him” and met his criteria of a player "used to the pressures of playing for a big club and everything that goes with it." He opined that Arsenal lost the Premier League at home the previous season – “we were maybe the best away team," and commented on their inability to play expansive football. Wenger felt the signing of Overmars would rectify that problem.
Overmars made his competitive debut for Arsenal against Leeds United in a 1–1 draw on 9 August 1997. Two weeks later, he scored his first goal for the club, away to Southampton. Arsenal went to the top of the league table on goal difference in September 1997, after a 4–0 win against West Ham United. Overmars, who scored two goals in the match, had now “run into devastating form” according to Brian Glanville. His impact however waned in the subsequent months and so did Arsenal’s form; a 3–1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on 13 December 1997 meant the club dropped to sixth place. The turn of the year saw improvement to Overmars’ game, which coincided with “the more general rejuvenation of the whole team.” He scored both of Arsenal’s goals in their win over Leeds United on 11 January 1998. Overmars up until this point was subject to criticism from commentators and fans; Wenger emphasised that this was his first year in England and aged 24, there was room for improvement. He said Overmars was a "positive buy" and pointed out that his goalscoring record was “not bad for a winger.”
Arsenal made ground on league leaders Manchester United by the time both clubs played each other at Old Trafford in March 1998. Overmars was a constant threat in the match and scored in the 80th minute; he latched onto a header by Anelka, ran with the ball and managed to flick it beyond the goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel. Arsenal held on to win, which put them six points behind Manchester United, with three games in hand. Overmars afterwards said: "This was a great result for us. But you don't win the Premier League against Manchester United; you have to beat the other clubs." Arsenal overtook Manchester United in April 1998, and won the league after beating Everton on 3 May 1998; Overmars scored two goals in the match. The team later faced Newcastle United in the 1998 FA Cup Final and it was Overmars who scored the opening goal, in the 23rd minute. Nicolas Anelka's goal in the second half ensured victory and completed a league and cup double for Arsenal. Wenger praised Overmars after the final:
All Europe thought Overmars was dead because of his damaged knee, but in every important game we have had this season, he has scored. He has got great mental strength. He is a world-class player.
Overmars began the 1998–99 season for Arsenal in good form; he scored against Manchester United in the 1998 FA Charity Shield and in the team's opening game of the season, at home to Nottingham Forest. Arsenal during the campaign participated in the Champions League, but their time in the competition was short-lived. The team did not make it past the group stage, and in the decisive game against Dynamo Kyiv which they lost, Overmars was ruled out with an abdominal injury. In February 1999 he scored a "controversial" winning goal against Sheffield United in the FA Cup fifth round. Nwankwo Kanu failed to return the ball to the opposition, in order to allow one of their players to receive treatment for an injury. Due to the controversial circumstances in which the game was won, Wenger immediately offered a replay. His proposal was accepted by The Football Association and Arsenal went on to win the replayed match 2–1, where the opening goal was "scored inevitably perhaps, by Marc Overmars." Arsenal exited the competition in the semi-final stage against Manchester United, who also pipped them to win the league.
The 1999–2000 season ended in disappointment for Overmars and Arsenal. The club finished second in the league, 18 points behind Manchester United, and lost to Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final on penalties – his final game for Arsenal. Overmars had suggested before the campaign that Arsenal were as strong as United, "especially in attack where we now have so many more options." In November 1999 he scored his first hat-trick for the club, at home to Middlesbrough. His performance was lauded by journalist Lynne Truss, who wrote in The Times: "Overmars was in top Jack Russell form, bounding after the ball and prepared to savage anybody who tried to take it away from him."
After the Netherlands exit at Euro 2000, Overmars was asked whether he would stay at Arsenal. He replied: "I really don't want to talk about it at the moment but you never know. There are some meetings with the club going on, we will talk over the next week." Lazio and Barcelona were reportedly interested in signing Overmars; the latter club concretised their efforts once Joan Gaspart was elected as president. Overmars was "flattered" by Barcelona's interest and said moving to such a club would "excite any player." Gaspart travelled to London to open negotiations with Arsenal and eventually reached an agreement to sign Overmars and his teammate Emmanuel Petit for a combined fee of around £32 million in July 2000. Overmars cost £25 million, making him the most expensive transfer in Dutch football history. The announcement of his transfer was unconventional; he publicised it on his personal website before informing the media. His site garnered 250,000 hits in one day, highlighting the internet's "potential for exponential growth" in regards to football. Overmars was delighted with the move: "I can't wait to pull on the famous shirt and play my first game. I certainly intend to make history at the Nou Camp."
By coincidence Overmars made his debut for Barcelona against Arsenal in the Amsterdam Tournament in August 2000. He lasted no more than 45 minutes after sustaining a knee injury. His first competitive start came at home to Málaga on 8 September 2000. His performance in the match started off well, then faded before coming back in the second half, opined Andrés Astruells in El Mundo Deportivo. He scored his first goal for the club at home to Racing Santander on 23 September 2000; it involved him dribbling the ball around the goalkeeper. Barcelona made an indifferent start to the 2000–01 season and by February 2001, it looked unlikely that Lorenzo Serra Ferrer would remain as manager of the club. Wenger was touted as his replacement after reportedly meeting with Gaspart. Overmars believed his former manager was going to leave Arsenal and revealed that "Barcelona have asked for lots of information about Wenger. I think something could happen soon." In the league, Overmars scored the team's seventh goal in their 7–0 win against Athletic Bilbao in March 2001; his performance was rated four stars out of five by El Mundo Deportivo.
Barcelona reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Cup in April 2001, but did not advance any further in the competition after defeat to Liverpool. Serra Ferrer was sacked a week after and replaced by Carles Rexach. As the season drew to a close, Overmars turned into an influential player for Barcelona. Sid Lowe labelled him as "Barça's only decent player in recent weeks" and was surprised he started on the bench against Real Valladolid in June 2001. When Overmars came on, he scored the equaliser to earn Barcelona a 2–2 draw. The team ended the campaign in fourth place after a dramatic 3–2 win against Valencia.
In the 2001–02 season, Barcelona once more finished fourth in the league. Petit left the club to join Chelsea before the season commenced, as he found his first team opportunities limited. While on international duty with the Netherlands in September 2001, Overmars suffered a bruised knee and as a result did not play for Barcelona until a month after. In November 2001, he scored Barcelona's third goal against Liverpool in the Champions League, which came after 26 uninterrupted passes. It was described by the Daily Mirror as "arguably the greatest team goal ever scored." Compared to the previous season, Overmars was used more sparingly in matches. Rexach had changed the team's formation to accommodate new signing Javier Saviola and promoted Xavi as a first-team regular. Overmars made an impact as a substitute against Galatasaray in December 2001; he set up Saviola twice to earn Barcelona a 2–2 draw. Mircea Lucescu, the manager of Galatasaray complemented Overmars afterwards: "When we were 2–0 up I told my players at half-time to maintain the result, but Overmars is a great player. We did not have a solution to him and it threw our game off balance."
Overmars was subject to transfer speculation in early 2002 because of his limited role in the first team, but he revealed he was happy to stay at Barcelona: "My priority now is that the team wins. Personal issues are not important. I'm here for whatever you need me." In the Champions League, he started in the semi-final first leg against Real Madrid; the team lost 2–0 and were defeated 3–1 on aggregate. In May 2002, Rexach was dismissed and replaced by Van Gaal, who was managing the club for a second time. Overmars was wary of the appointment beforehand, saying: "Van Gaal is a good manager, but I do not know if his return would be good for Barcelona." In May 2002, he underwent surgery on his right knee and was out of action for six months.
The 2002–03 season saw Barcelona make their worst ever start to a league season; the club was two points off a relegation spot after defeat to Sevilla in December 2002. Van Gaal departed the club in January 2003 and following a board meeting, Gaspart resigned as president a month later. Radomir Antić stepped in as manager for the remainder of the season. He encouraged an expansive style of play and freshened up the team with minimal changes; for instance he switched Overmars from a left winger to a right one. Overmars teared a muscle in his thigh during a cup match against Terrassa in May 2003 and was sidelined for a month. In his final season for Barcelona, the club appointed Frank Rijkaard as manager and elected Joan Laporta as president. The club finished second in the league and were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Celtic in the fourth round. Overmars made 29 appearances in the first team, three fewer than in the previous campaign. Due to a persistent knee injury, he announced his retirement from football in July 2004 and left Barcelona without recompense, in spite of having a year remaining on his contract.
Go Ahead Eagles
On 26 July 2008, Overmars played in the testimonial match of Jaap Stam, where he played for a team of former Dutch internationals. During the match, Overmars outplayed Ajax defender George Ogararu. His performance led to several invitations from Eagles coach Andries Ulderink to make a comeback in football. On 10 August 2008, four years after hanging up his boots, Overmars made a shock announcement that he would come out of retirement to play again for the Go Ahead Eagles for the 2008–09 season. His right knee that caused him to end his career, still gave Overmars some worries. Therefore, Overmars did not play as many minutes or attend as many training sessions as the rest of the squad. After the end of the 2008–09 season, Overmars announced his retirement again.
Overmars’s first call-up to the senior national squad came in February 1993 for the World Cup qualifier against Turkey. He scored five minutes into his debut, steering the ball home after a cross by Wim Jonk. The team went on to win 3–1 and Overmars said the goal was good for his confidence. Dick Advocaat, the manager of the Netherlands was complementary of the debutant’s performance. In April 1993, Overmars earnt the national team a penalty against England after Des Walker fouled him. Peter van Vossen converted the spot kick to complete a comeback for the Netherlands, who were 2–0 down after 24 minutes. The national team qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in November 1993. Advocaat selected Overmars for the tournament and he featured in all of the Netherlands’ five matches. His performances led him to be named the best young player of the 1994 World Cup.
In October 1995, he scored a hat-trick for the Netherlands in their Euro 1996 qualifier away to Malta. He did not participate in the tournament as he was recuperating from his knee ligament damage. Sports writer Rob Hughes said the Netherlands draw against Scotland showed why "they sorely miss the speed and balance of Marc Overmars." He was a regular partaker for the Netherlands during the 1998 World Cup, where the national team reached the semi-final stage. He suffered an injury before the quarter-final match against Argentina, which seemingly ruled him out of contention. He did however feature late into the game as a substitute, but aggravated his injury and was forced to sit out the entire semi-final against Brazil, which the Netherlands lost on penalties.
In all, Overmars played 86 games for the Netherlands, scoring 17 goals. Overmars was the youngest player to reach 50 caps with the Dutch national team. His final match was the Netherlands' loss to Portugal in the semi-final of the 2004 European Championships.
Style of play
Overmars in his prime was described as “the archetypal winger”, whose speed meant he was able to get the better of most defenders. Indeed, pace and acceleration was an important part of his game and reflective of his nicknames "TGV" and "Roadrunner". Former teammate Petit said his strength was getting the ball past his marker and running past to deliver crosses. Defender Gary Neville opined was the best winger he came up against in his time at Manchester United, not least because of his versatility.
Football pundit Alan Hansen noted Overmars benefited from a "strange feature of the modern English game" – defenders backing off and allowing him to run until he was in a shooting position. Although he made his career as a winger, at Arsenal Wenger was tempted to position him as a striker after a good cameo: "It could happen that Marc plays up front. I am sure that he would be a very good striker because of the runs he makes."
Overmars joined his first professional football club, Go Ahead Eagles, as the technical manager. After his retirement he started working as a director for his first team, Go Ahead Eagles. He resigned in 2012. In the same year Overmars became director of football at Ajax.
Overmars married his long-term partner Chantal van Woensel in May 2013. The couple have two sons: Frenkie and Nick, both of whom are footballers. He is a co-owner of a restaurant in Epe, where he resides. In part with his father Ben and brother Edwin, he runs a car restoration service named "Overmars Classic Cars". The family business, Overmars Vastgoed bv was founded in the 1990s and continues to invest in, amongst other things, commercial and residential buildings. In 2002, Overmars appeared in the Quote 500 richest Netherlanders list for the first time, at number 441.
- Eredivisie (3): 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96
- KNVB Cup: 1992–93
- Johan Cruijff Shield: 1993
- UEFA Champions League: 1995–96
- European Super Cup: 1995
- Intercontinental Cup: 1995
- Dutch Football Talent of the Year: 1992
- Dutch Golden Shoe Winner: 1993
- FIFA World Cup Best Young Player: 1994
In 2008, Overmars was voted as the 12th greatest player in Arsenal's history by the club's supporters.
|Go Ahead Eagles||1990–91||11||1||0||0||0||0||11||1|
|Willem II Tilburg||1991–92||31||1||0||0||0||0||31||1|
|Go Ahead Eagles||2008–09||24||0||0||0||0||0||24||0|
|Netherlands national team|
- Scores and results list the Netherlands' goal tally first.
|1.||24 February 1993||Stadion Galgenwaard, Utrecht||Turkey||1–0||3–1||1994 FIFA World Cup qualification||Scored on his debut|||
|2.||12 June 1994||Varsity Stadium, Toronto||Canada||2–0||3–0||Friendly|||
|3.||11 October 1995||Ta'Qali Stadium, Ta'Qali||Malta||1–0||4–0||UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying|||
|4.||11 October 1995||Ta'Qali Stadium, Ta'Qali||Malta||2–0||4–0||UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying|||
|5.||11 October 1995||Ta'Qali Stadium, Ta'Qali||Malta||3–0||4–0||UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying|||
|6.||15 November 1995||De Kuip, Rotterdam||Norway||3–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying|||
|7.||1 June 1998||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven||Paraguay||1–0||5–1||Friendly|||
|8.||1 June 1998||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven||Paraguay||2–0||5–1||Friendly|||
|9.||5 June 1998||Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam||Nigeria||2–0||5–1||Friendly|||
|10.||20 June 1998||Stade Vélodrome, Marseille||South Korea||2–0||5–0||1998 FIFA World Cup|||
|11.||27 May 2000||Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam||Romania||1–0||2–1||Friendly|||
|12.||25 June 2000||De Kuip, Rotterdam||Yugoslavia||5–0||6–1||UEFA Euro 2000|||
|13.||25 June 2000||De Kuip, Rotterdam||Yugoslavia||6–0||6–1||UEFA Euro 2000|||
|14.||7 October 2000||GSP Stadium, Nicosia||Cyprus||3–0||4–0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
|15.||25 April 2001||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven||Cyprus||2–0||4–0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
|16.||30 April 2003||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven||Belarus||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying|||
|17.||1 June 2004||Stade Olympique, Lausanne||Faroe Islands||3–0||3–0||Friendly|||
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- Astruells, Andrés (10 September 2000). "Buenas vibraciones" [Good vibrations]. El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish) (Barcelona). p. 14.
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- Salsas, Júlia (28 February 2001). "Arsène Wenger, un acierto" [Arsène Wenger, a success]. El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish) (Barcelona). p. 51.
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- Marc Overmars – FIFA competition record
- Marc Overmars profile and stats at Wereld van Oranje (Dutch)