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|Full name||Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie|
|Founded||November 15, 1900|
|Chairman||Ron van Oijen|
|2019–20||Eerste Divisie, 8th|
The oldest remnant of the club, "Eendracht" (Dutch for unity), stems back to 15 November 1900. In 1910, Eendracht merged with NVV Nijmegen to form the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnɛimeːɣə(n) ˈeːndrɑxt ˌkɔmbiˈnaː(t)si]). The team's home ground is the 12,500-seat Stadion de Goffert.
The club has reached the final of the KNVB Cup on four occasions - in 1973, 1983, 1994 and 2000 - but has never won any major silverware.
1900–1919: Merger and first years
NEC Nijmegen is the 41st oldest club in the Netherlands. While early football clubs were founded by the elites, the founders of NEC came from a different background to those of other Eredivisie clubs, hailing from the old slum in the 'Benedenstad' (lower city) of Nijmegen. The young men from this area played football on the streets and on the banks of the Waal, rather than on a conventional field.
On 15 November 1900, August Lodenstijn, Antoon Kuypers and Wouter de Lent made the decision to form their own football club, taking the name Eendracht, inspired by a sign in the town square.
Until 1903, Eendracht only played friendly matches against teams from other parts of Nijmegen, when the local league in Nijmegen was formed. Eendracht was the first champion and was promoted to the regional league of Gelderland, then two years later they were promoted to the second tier of Dutch football.
1920–1939: "Never first-class"
At the beginning of the 1920s, NEC bought land and moved to a ground at Hazenkampseweg. Finally, the club had a permanent home and the club's fanbase began to grow. However, despite a new home and increased membership, on-field success did not follow. To achieve promotion into the Eerste Klasse (first-class) competition, it was not enough in those years to just become champion of the Tweede Klasse (second class). Stressful play-off matches were played between the champions of the various regional divisions.
Although NEC won second-tier championships in 1928, 1929, 1931, and 1934, the club was not promoted. The club was mockingly titled: "Nooit eerste classer" (in English "Never first division"), before being promoted at the fifth time of asking in 1936. In 1939, NEC won the first East title and fought for the Dutch title in a playoff competition with four other district champions. NEC came third, behind Amsterdam sides Ajax and DWS.
1940–1959: WWII then professional football
During the Second World War, little football was played, but after liberation, the club's pre-war success continued and again became the champion of the East in both 1946 and 1947.
Professional football was introduced in the Netherlands in 1954, but came at the wrong time for NEC. The club was not in a good financial state and not as well established as other clubs. When the KNVB reorganised the league structure in time for the 1956-57 season, NEC found themselves in the lowest semi-professional division, the Tweede Divisie.
At the beginning of the 1960s, NEC began to recover, growing slowly again. A major reason was support from the City of Nijmegen who began to see the importance of a professional club like the NEC, and started providing financial support in 1963. The following year, NEC was promoted to the Eerste Divisie (first division) again and three years later, reached the Eredivisie for the first time.
The club remained in the top flight for seven seasons in a row, with some games played in front of capacity crowds; season averages of 14,000 spectators were normal. NEC flourished, primarily due to the development of players from their youth setup, including Frans Thijssen and Jan Peters. Although the club still had not won a major prize, it was well regarded.
1974–2002: Lean years
However, the decline came quickly. NEC couldn't sustain itself with its only major revenue sources being the sale of players and the large subsidy from the Nijmegen council.
Relegation in 1974 was a warning and although NEC returned the following year, the club was heading in a downward trajectory. Each year, the team fought against relegation and gates fell. During the following years, NEC became renowned as a yo-yo club; in little over a decade, they changed leagues six times: relegation in 1983, promotion in 1985, relegation in 1986, promotion in 1989, relegation in 1991, and finally promotion in 1994.
In 1981, the club was given further support from the municipal council, when NEC's professional and amateur sides separated. In 1987, the club was declared bankrupt. NEC continued to exist but only after 80% of creditors waived their claims.
Chairman Henk van de Water formed a sponsors' club to raise funds for the club which started to gather momentum. By the mid-1990s, NEC was on the way up again. In 1995, the club clung on to a place in the Eredivisie by the skin of their teeth. In 1998, it surprised many with an eighth-place finish. Its prospects had improved and attendance numbers rose continuously, all the way up to 10,000. The sponsors' club began to prosper and there seemed to be a nice future ahead in the newly modernised Stadion de Goffert.
NEC has reached the final of the KNVB Cup four times. On two occasions NEC were underdogs, but going into the 1973 final, the club was the overwhelming favorite. At Rotterdam's De Kuip against NAC Breda, things went completely wrong for the Nijmegen club, with NAC coming away 2–0 winners, amidst claims of infighting and disagreements with the manager.
In 1983, NEC unexpectedly reached the Cup Final despite having been relegated that season, but fell to the league champions Ajax 3-1 - the final goal being scored by Johan Cruyff in his final game for Ajax.
NEC, about to be promoted from the Eerste Divisie surprised many by defeating Ajax 2-1 away from home in the semi-finals of the 1994 competition, coming up against Rotterdam at De Kuip in the final, but fell once more 2-1.
In 2000, the club's centenary year, they reached the final for the fourth time but the match against Roda JC Kerkrade would end in disappointment for the 20,000 fans who made the trip; NEC lost 2–0, with no clear scoring chances.
NEC in the Cup Winners' Cup
In 1983, during the darkest period of the club's history, they played a match which many see as a highlight of the club's history: a match played in the European Cup Winners' Cup against Barcelona, while NEC was little more than a mid-table second-tier team.
In the Spring, NEC had lost the cup-final against Ajax and were also relegated. But because the Amsterdammers had also been crowned champion of the Eredivisie, NEC qualified for UEFA competition while in the second-tier, something which has only happened once since; Wigan Athletic's participation in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League while playing in the EFL Championship.
In the first round of the European tournament, NEC narrowly defeated Norway's Brann, 2-1 on aggregate. A few days later, the draw was completed for the second round, which pitted the superstars of Barcelona - with both Bernd Schuster and Diego Maradona - against the small Dutch outfit. Both players were injured for the tie, though there was still excitement for the fans at the Goffertstadion - NEC raced into a 2-0 lead after 44 minutes, with goals from Anton Janssen and Michel Mommertz, though the Blaugrana would hit back, winning the game 3-2, then strolled to a 2-0 victory at Camp Nou in the second leg.
2003–2012: NEC in Europe
29 May 2003 was a historic day for the club. Following a late strike from Jarda Simr against RKC Waalwijk, NEC finished fifth in the Eredivisie. For the first time in its existence NEC qualified through their league position for the UEFA Cup. This led to unprecedented scenes with jubilant fans invading the pitch. Back in Nijmegen, there was an explosion of joy with over 5,000 supporters in the Goffert watching the game on a large video screen. Similar scenes happened in the centre of Nijmegen with over 25,000 people celebrating.
In the 2007-08 Eredivisie season, NEC qualified for European competition again, for only the third time in its history. After a disappointing first half of the season, the club found itself 17th place. But after the winter break, there was a remarkable turnaround. From January 2008, NEC played terrific football and victory after victory resulted in an excellent eighth place in the Eredivisie. This position was rewarded by participation in the UEFA Cup play-offs. NEC was also victorious in the play-offs beating Roda JC Kerkrade, FC Groningen, and NAC Breda. With 31 undefeated matches in a row and with a 6–0 home victory at NAC Breda the highlight, NEC attained European football once again.
The year became even more successful following early rounds of the UEFA Cup. In the first round, the club defeated Dinamo Bucureşti in two pulsating matches. After a 1–0 winning home game, NEC drew 0–0 in Romania to reach the group-stage. They were then drawn against larger European clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Udinese, Spartak Moscow, and Dinamo Zagreb.
All the experts gave the club little chance of reaching the next round, but NEC defied the odds. They started poorly, with defeats to both Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur - Nijmegen was on the bottom of the group and was almost out of the tournament. But there was hope after a 2-1 victory against Spartak Moscow in Russia with a goal from Lasse Schöne. NEC played its last match in Nijmegen against Udinese. To progress, NEC and Tottenham had to win (against Spartak Moscow). Tottenham were behind at half time, while NEC were being held at 0-0. But in the 74th minute, there was a sensational moment: Tottenham scored twice to eventually draw 2–2 against Spartak and Collins John scored almost simultaneously to make the score 1–0 for NEC. With a second goal from Jhon van Beukering, NEC reached the next round.
The last 32 draw of the UEFA Cup saw NEC drawn against German giants Hamburger SV. The fairy tale ended for the club when the Germans won 3-0 at Goffertstadion and 1–0 in Hamburg. However, reaching the last 32 capped off perhaps the most successful year in the club's history. Their supporters were complimented in Europe, especially by Franz Beckenbauer, who said he had never witnessed such great support from away supporters and that Premier League clubs had rarely seen so many away fans at a club-match.
2013–present: Relegation and return
At the end of the 2013–14 season, NEC prevented automatic relegation by holding Ajax to a 2–2 draw in Amsterdam on the last matchday with a brace from Alireza Jahanbakhsh. However, in the following relegation play-offs, NEC lost 4–1 on aggregate to Eerste Divisie's 16th placed Sparta Rotterdam and was relegated to the second tier of Dutch football for the first time in 20 years.
They bounced back however at the first attempt after beating Sparta 1–0 on 3 April 2015 to clinch the Eerste Divisie title with six games left. On 28 May 2017, NEC faced relegation again after two years in the Eredivisie after losing 5–1 on aggregate against NAC Breda.
They reached the promotion play-offs in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, but lost in the semi-finals on both occasions to FC Emmen and RKC Waalwijk. For the 2019-20 season, the club took the ususual step of appointing three managers: Adrie Bogers, Rogier Meijer and Francois Gesthuizen - the club finished in eighth place, which would have granted them a place in the play-offs, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, there was no promotion or relegation between Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie.
Rivalry with Vitesse
Vitesse Arnhem are NEC's archrivals. The two clubs share a long history together and they contest the Gelderse Derby (Derby of Gelderland), a confrontation between the two largest cities of the province of Gelderland, Arnhem and Nijmegen, two cities with major differences in attitude and culture. Since 1813, Arnhem has been the capital of Gelderland and is historically based on finance and trade, perceived as an office city with modern buildings. Nijmegen, on the other hand, is predominantly a workers' city, with middle and high-income groups in the minority.
The two cities are just 24 kilometers apart, resulting in an intense crosstown rivalry. The meeting between the two teams is still considered to be one of the biggest matches of the season.
De Graafschap are also a rival of NEC, and games between them are known as the Kleine Gelderse Derby (Small Gelderland Derby) and these matches are not as loaded with the tension and rivalry of those with Vitesse.
|Played||Vitesse wins||Draws||NEC wins||Vitesse goals||NEC goals|
- Last two results
|GelreDome||2 April 2017||Eredivisie||2||1|
|De Goffert||23 October 2016||Eredivisie||1||1|
European Cup appearances
|1983–84||Cup Winners' Cup||1. Round||Brann||1–1||1–0||2–1|
|2003–04||UEFA Cup||1. Round||Wisła Kraków||1–2||1–2||2–4|
|2008–09||UEFA Cup||1. Round||Dinamo Bucharest||1–0||0–0||1–0|
|3. Round||Hamburger SV||0–3||0–1||0–4|
- Eerste Divisie
- Tweede Divisie
- Winners: 1963–64
- KNVB Cup
Below is a table with NEC's domestic results since the introduction of professional football in 1955.
|Domestic Results since 1956|
|Domestic league||League result||Qualification to||KNVB Cup season||Cup result|
|2017–18 Eerste Divisie||3rd||promotion/relegation play-offs: no promotion||2017–18||round of 16|
|2016–17 Eredivisie||16th||Eerste Divisie (losing prom./releg. play-offs)||2016–17||first round|
|2015–16 Eredivisie||10th||–||2015–16||round of 16|
|2014–15 Eerste Divisie||1st||Eredivisie (promotion)||2014–15||round of 16|
|2013–14 Eredivisie||17th||Eerste Divisie (losing prom./releg. play-offs)||2013–14||semi-final|
|2012–13 Eredivisie||15th||2012–13||second round|
|2010–11 Eredivisie||11th||–||2010–11||third round|
|2007–08 Eredivisie||8th||–||2007–08||round of 16|
|2006–07 Eredivisie||10th||–||2006–07||third round|
|2005–06 Eredivisie||10th||–||2005–06||round of 16|
|2004–05 Eredivisie||13th||–||2004–05||third round|
|2003–04 Eredivisie||14th||–||2003–04||third round|
|2002–03 Eredivisie||5th||–||2002–03||third round|
|2001–02 Eredivisie||9th||–||2001–02||group stage|
|2000–01 Eredivisie||12th||–||2000–01||round of 16|
|1998–99 Eredivisie||11th||–||1998–99||second round|
|1997–98 Eredivisie||8th||–||1997–98||round of 16|
|1996–97 Eredivisie||17th||(surviving promotion/relegation play-offs)||1996–97||round of 16|
|1995–96 Eredivisie||17th||(surviving promotion/relegation play-offs)||1995–96||second round|
|1994–95 Eredivisie||15th||–||1994–95||round of 16|
|1993–94 Eerste Divisie||2nd||Eredivisie (prom./releg. play-offs: promotion)||1993–94||runner-up|
|1992–93 Eerste Divisie||4th||(prom./releg. play-offs: no promotion)||1992–93||second round|
|1991–92 Eerste Divisie||8th||–||1991–92||third round|
|1990–91 Eredivisie||18nd||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1990–91||second round|
|1989–90 Eredivisie||16th||(prom./releg. play-offs: no relegation)||1989–90||third round|
|1988–89 Eerste Divisie||4th||Eredivisie (promotion competition: promotion)||1988–89||first round|
|1987–88 Eerste Divisie||5th||–||1987–88||third round|
|1986–87 Eerste Divisie||6th||(promotion competition: no promotion)||1986–87||first round|
|1985–86 Eredivisie||17th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1985–86||semi-final|
|1984–85 Eerste Divisie||7th||Eredivisie(promotion competition: promotion)||1984–85||first round|
|1983–84 Eerste Divisie||9th||–||1983–84||quarter-final|
|1982–83 Eredivisie||18th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1982–83||runner-up|
|1980–81 Eredivisie||16th||–||1980–81||second round|
|1979–80 Eredivisie||15th||–||1979–80||third round|
|1978–79 Eredivisie||15th||–||1978–79||second round|
|1977–78 Eredivisie||15th||–||1977–78||second round|
|1976–77 Eredivisie||16th||–||1976–77||second round|
|1975–76 Eredivisie||7th||–||1975–76||first round|
|1974–75 Eerste Divisie||1st||Eredivisie (promotion)||1974–75||first round|
|1973–74 Eredivisie||17th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1973–74||third round|
|1969–70 Eredivisie||11th||–||1969–70||first round|
|1967–68 Eredivisie||10th||–||1967–68||second round|
|1966–67 Eerste Divisie||2nd||Eredivisie (promotion)||1966–67||first round|
|1965–66 Eerste Divisie||6th||–||1965–66||group stage|
|1964–65 Eerste Divisie||10th||–||1964–65||first round|
|1963–64 Tweede Divisie B||1st||Eerste Divisie (winning promotion play-off)||1963–64||third round|
|1962–63 Tweede Divisie A||3rd||(promotion competition: no promotion)||1962–63||semi-final|
|1961–62 Tweede Divisie||9th||–||1961–62||first round|
|1960–61 Tweede Divisie||4th||(promotion competition: no promotion)||1960–61||group stage|
|1959–60 Tweede Divisie A||8th||–||not held||not held|
|1958–59 Tweede Divisie B||6th||–||1958–59||fourth round|
|1957-58Tweede Divisie B||5th||–||1957–58||first round|
|1956-57Tweede Divisie B||10th||–||1956–57||"did not participate"|
- As of 15 September 2020
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- DR Congo
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
UEFA Current ranking
- As of 26 April 2013
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- "Historie". www.nec-nijmegen.nl (in Dutch). 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
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- "Historie". Sc NEC. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
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- Bandini, Nicky (2008-11-27). "Uefa Cup: NEC Nijmegen v Tottenham - as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
- "Franz Beckenbauer about great ambiance N.E.C. Supporters". De Trouwe Honden. 2009-03-17. Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
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- "Selectie N.E.C. Nijmegen". www.nec-nijmegen.nl. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- UEFA Club Coefficients – UEFA.com
- "Managers". N.E.C. Nijmegen. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
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