Andro Knel

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Andro Knel
Andro knel.jpg
Personal information
Full name Andro Charles Willem Knel
Date of birth October 8, 1967
Place of birth Rotterdam, Netherlands
Date of death June 7, 1989(1989-06-07) (aged 21)
Place of death Zanderij Airport, Paramaribo, Suriname
Playing position Attacking Midfielder
Youth career
HMSH, DWO, ADO and FC Den Haag
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1989 Sparta Rotterdam 44 (1)
1989–1989 NAC Breda 19 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Andro Charles Willem Knel (October 8, 1967 in Rotterdam – June 7, 1989 in Paramaribo) was a Dutch-Surinamese footballer. During his career he served Sparta Rotterdam and NAC Breda. He died at the age of 21, when on June 7, 1989 he was killed in the Surinam Airways Flight PY764 air crash in Paramaribo. He was said to be a "tropical surprise in milk chocolate".

Knel and his family moved from Rotterdam to Den Haag when he was 10 years old. He played in the youth squads of HMSH, DWO, ADO and FC Den Haag before making the switch back to Rotterdam when he moved to Sparta Rotterdam. He made his professional debut in the 1986-87 season, aged 19.

He loved Jamaican reggae and his dreadlocks combined with his position of attacking midfielder made many people compare him with Ruud Gullit who also had dreadlocks in those days. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were his main artists. Knel became loved at Het Kasteel. There were various cheer banners with rasta colours, messages and other signs featuring Knel. He had no driver's license and made his way to training by tram or by roller skates. In total he played 44 professional matches for Sparta in which he scored one goal.

In the winter break of the 1988-89 season NAC Breda manager Hans Verèl brought Knel to NAC for whom the club paid 185,000 guilders (about 84.000 euros). Also at NAC he soon became a fan favourite and stole many of their hearts. Not just with his performances on the pitch, but also with personality off the pitch.

He was invited by Sonny Hasnoe, the founder of the Colourful 11 to be part of the team and travel to Suriname to play in the "Boxel Kleurrijk Tournament" with three Surinamese teams. The Surinam Airways Flight PY764 crashed during approach to Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, killing 176 of the 187 on board, including Knel, making it the worst ever aviation disaster in Suriname's history. Among the dead were a total of 15 members of the Colourful 11, only three of them survived.

Hundreds of fans of both NAC Breda and Sparta Rotterdam came together in memorial of Knel. A temporary Knel monument was revealed and the numbers of supporters visiting the monument proved his popularity. Due to the sad moments of Knel's death a special relationship between fans of both teams was created. Ten years after the disaster both clubs released a combined edition of their fanzine in memorial of Knel. The fans also introduced the Andro Knel Trophy, which is held every time the clubs play each other competitively in the Dutch leagues. Prior to the match the fans play against each other to decide which team wins that year's Andro Knel Trophy.