N.E.C. (football club)

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NEC Nijmegen.png
Full name Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie
Short name N.E.C.
Founded November 15, 1900; 115 years ago (1900-11-15)
Ground Goffertstadion
Ground Capacity 12,500
Chairman Ton van Gaalen
Manager Peter Hyballa
League Eredivisie
2015–16 Eredivisie, 10th
Website Club home page
Current season

Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnɛi̯ˌmeːɣə(n) ˈeːndrɑxt ˌkɔmbiˈnaː(t)si]), commonly abbreviated to N.E.C. [ˌɛneːˈseː], is a Dutch football club from the city of Nijmegen that currently plays in the Eredivisie. The oldest remnants of the club, "Eendracht" (Dutch for unity), stem back to 15 November 1900. In 1910, Eendracht merged with Nijmegen to form the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie. The team's home ground is the 12,500-seat Stadion de Goffert.

The club has not won any major tournaments to date, though they were runners-up in the KNVB Cup competition in 1973, 1983, 1994, and 2000; they played in the UEFA Cup tournaments in 1983, 2003, and 2008.


General history[edit]

N.E.C. (Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie or, in English, Nijmegen Unity Combination) is the 41st oldest club in the Netherlands. It was known that the first football club was founded by "ordinary" workers, real people, and boys. Football was in 1900 already quite popular, but a football club was an elitist activity. Associations as UD (Deventer), Quick (Nijmegen), Sparta Rotterdam, Vitesse, etc. were also all created by the sons of wealthy industrialists, middle and other notables.[1]

Lower City[edit]

The founders of N.E.C. had a very different background to other Eredivisie clubs. They were, without exception, from the old Nijmegen Lower City, the place where the poorest people lived. It was not much more than a slum. The boys from downtown Nijmegen played football every day, not on a field, but on the streets and the Waalkade.

Uniquely some of those boys on 15 November 1900 made a decision to form their own football club. They did it all themselves, without help from outside. They coined the name Eendracht and decided that every week a fee of two cents would be paid. With that money, a new ball could be purchased from time-to-time.

In the first years, Eendracht only played games against teams from other parts of Nijmegen. The ploeggie from the downtown area appeared to be playing good football. When in 1903, a Nijmegen Football Association was formed, Eendracht was the first champion and was thereby promoted to the Geldersche Football Association. The football at Eendracht became a serious matter, especially two years later after promotion to the second class of the KNVB.

The name N.E.C. was established in April 1910. Eendracht merged that year with a club called Nijmegen. Nijmegen had been established for only two years and was founded by former members of Quick 1888 who felt little empathy with Quick, regarded at the time as an elite club. The Nijmegen Eendracht Combination seemed a golden find.[1]


Indeed, the leading figures in Nijmegen possibly looked down on N.E.C.[1]

'Never first classer'[edit]

At the beginning of the 1920s, the situation improved slightly. N.E.C. bought land and moved to Hazenkampseweg. Finally, the club had its own sports complex. On top of this, memberships increased rapidly and the club became more popular. However, despite a new home and increased membership, success onfield did not necessarily follow. To achieve promotion into the first class competition, it was not enough in those years to just become champion of the second class. Stressful play-off matches were regularly played. Although N.E.C. became champion in 1928, 1929, 1931, and 1934, the club was not promoted. The club was mockingly titled: "Nooit eerste classer" (in English "Never first division"). Finally in 1936, N.E.C. took the last obstacle. They won the play-off matches and reached the First Class.[1]

Golden years[edit]

N.E.C. in 1939 won the first East title and fought for the Dutch title with the other four district champions. N.E.C. came third, behind Ajax and DWS also from Amsterdam. During the war, little football was played, but after liberation, N.E.C. resumed competition and again became the champion of the East in 1946. In 1947, N.E.C. retained the title and again became the third-most successful club in the Netherlands.[1]

Professional football[edit]

For N.E.C., the introduction of professional football in 1954 came at the wrong time. The club had internal problems at the time, was not as well established as other clubs, and was not doing well financially. More than 80 'paying' clubs were called together and the KNVB reorganised their structure. Each time the competitions were classified, N.E.C. fell further from the top leagues. At the 11th hour, N.E.C. was saved from a return to the amateurs. At the beginning of the 1960s, N.E.C. began to recover, growing slowly upwards again. A major reason was support from the City of Nijmegen who began to see the importance of a 'paid' club like the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie. N.E.C. could finally count on financial support in 1963. In 1964, N.E.C. was promoted to the first division again and three years later, N.E.C. reached finally the First League.[1]

Full stadiums[edit]

The ensuing years were ones that Nijmegen residents look back at nostalgically. The Goffert was full every game. Season averages of 14,000 spectators were normal. There was even a year (1970–71) in which N.E.C. had attendances of 18,000 a game. N.E.C. flourished at this time, primarily on the back of great youth development and scouting.

Talented players were developed, played in the first team and, after a number of seasons sold for high fees. Frans Thijssen and Jan Peters are two such examples. Although the club never won a major prize, it was well regarded at this time. However, the first signs of decline came quickly. N.E.C. was not sustainable with major revenue sources being the sale of players and a healthy subsidy from the Nijmegen council.[1]

Lean years[edit]

The relegation of 1974 was a kind of warning. N.E.C. were promoted a year later again and finished seventh in the league, but it was going wrong again at the beginning of the 1970s.

No one could turn the tide; N.E.C. were in a downward spiral. Each year, the team fought against relegation and fewer spectators were watching the matches. During this period, N.E.C. ended every season as either a top club in the first division or a tail club in the major league. 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. N.E.C. suffered many difficult years and disappeared almost from professional football from time-to-time. In 1981, the club got only support from the town when the professionals and amateurs would be separated. In 1987, the club was bankrupt, but N.E.C. remained existent only because 80% of all creditors waived their claims.

The chairman Henk van de Water formed the sponsor club OSRN on which N.E.C. got a little air. Just in the mid-1990s, N.E.C. found their way up again. Three years later, the club remained at the last minute in the Eredivisie, but in 1998, N.E.C. surprised many with an 8th-place finish. Meanwhile, the prospects excelled. Attendance numbers were rising continuously, all the way up to 10,000. The sponsor club was growing out of its jacket and there was a nice future up ahead in the new Goffertstadion.[1]

Cup finals[edit]

N.E.C. has reached the KNVB Cup Final four times. On two occasions N.E.C. were underdogs, but on 31 May 1973, the club was the overwhelming favorite. At De Kuip against NAC Breda, it however, went completely wrong for the Nijmegen club. N.E.C., with coach Wiel Coerver and players of the quality of Jan Peters, Frans Thijssen, Harrie Schellekens, Jan van Deinsen, and Cas Janssens, were unable to live up to expectations. Infighting was cited as a major cause of underperformance, with NAC Breda winning 2–0.

In 1983, N.E.C. unexpectedly reached the Cup Final. The club had been relegated that season, but reached the Cup Final. Their opponents Ajax, were in both matches clearly better, winning twice 3–1.

In 1994, it was again remarkable that N.E.C. was in the final. N.E.C. was a first-division club at the time, but one with a very good team. A month after the cup, they were promoted via the promotion/relegation play-offs. N.E.C., with players of the ilk of Lok, Hoekman, van Wonderen, van der Weerden, and the lightning-quick Bennie Dekker, surprised in the semi-finals. Ajax were beaten in De Meer 2–1. In De Kuip at Feyenoord, Feyenoord won 2–1.

In the club's 100th year (2000), N.E.C. again reached the Cup Final. The competition presentations were not too good and hardly participation at the promotion/relegation play-offs was averted. The final against Roda JC Kerkrade for the 20,000 fans from Nijmegen was more or less a disappointment. N.E.C. lost with no scoring chances 2–0. The semi-finals (progressing after penalties against AZ) were a highlight for many fans.[1]

Nijmegen play in European Cup[edit]

In 1983, during the darkest period of the club's history, there was also a highlight in club's the history. N.E.C. played in the European Cup against Barcelona, while N.E.C. was mid-ranked in the First Division.

In the spring, N.E.C. lost the cup-final against Ajax and were also relegated to the First Division. But because the Amsterdammers also became champion of the Netherlands, N.E.C. made the unique fact that a First Division club was registered for the Eurocup II tournament; this performance was never repeated again in the Netherlands.

In the first round of the European tournament, N.E.C. defeated Norway's Brann. The club was a relative minnow, but N.E.C. had problems defeating the club from Norway. In Nijmegen, it finished 1–1 and two weeks later in Bergen, Michel Mommertz scored the winner (0–1).

A few days later, the draw was completed for the second round. The city of Nijmegen eagerly anticipated the fixture and were not disappointed when Barcelona, the club that had world superstars Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster, were coming to Nijmegen. Both star players were injured by 19 October and did not take part in the games. But this was no big disappointment for the 25,000 spectators in the Goffertstadion. N.E.C. took the lead with strikes from Anton Janssen and Michel Mommertz. However, Barcelona hit back eventually winning 3–2. The second leg in Barcelona, was an easy game for the Catalans, ending in a 2–0 win for the home team.

29 May 2003 was a historic day for the club. For the first time in its existence N.E.C. qualified on their own for the UEFA Cup. Following a late strike from Jarda Simr, N.E.C. finished fifth in the Eredivisie. This led to unprecedented scenes with jubilant fans invading the Waalwijk 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.[1]


McDos Stadium de Goffert in 2008, 12,500 spectators.

In 2008, N.E.C. qualified for the third time in its history for European competition. With this, Mario Been followed in the footsteps of former-coach Johan Neeskens. After a disappointing first half of the year the club was positioned on the bottom of the Eredivisie (17th place). But after the winter break, there was a remarkable resurrection from the Nijmegenars. From January 2008, N.E.C. played terrific football and scored many goals. Victory after victory resulted in an excellent 8th place in the Eredivisie. This position was rewarded by participation in the UEFA Cup play-offs. N.E.C. was also superior 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, N.E.C. reached European football again. The return match at Breda was a formality, but the team was also victorious. What followed was a great homage to many thousands of fans on the Goffertwei.[1]

The year became even more successful following early rounds of the UEFA Cup. In the first round, the club defeated Dinamo Bucureşti in two heartstopping matches. After a 1–0 winning home game, N.E.C drew 0–0 in Romania to reach the group-stage of the UEFA Cup. The club from Nijmegen was 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 N.E.C. defied the odds. After a stunning match against Zagreb, with a goal from Dinamo in the last minute, there stood a disappointing 3–2 on the scoreboard. N.E.C. were perhaps the better team but gained no points. After this, English team Tottenham came to the McDOS Goffertstadion and won with a score of 0–1. The club from Nijmegen was on the bottom of the pool and was almost out of the tournament. But there was hope in the Netherlands after a 1–2 victory against Spartak Moscow in Russia with a very important goal from Lasse Schöne. N.E.C. played its last match in Nijmegen against Udinese. To go to the next round, N.E.C. and Tottenham had to win (from Spartak Moscow). Tottenham were behind and after 45 minutes, while there was a disappointing 0–0 on the scoreboard in Nijmegen. But in the 74th minute, there was a sensational moment: Tottenham scored twice to eventually draw 2–2 against Spartak and Collins John almost simultaneously scored to make the score 1–0 for N.E.C. With a second goal from Jhon van Beukering (his third European goal of the season), N.E.C reached the next round.

The last 32 draw of the UEFA Cup saw N.E.C. fixtured to play against big German club Hamburger SV. The fairytale ended for the club from Nijmegen when the Germans won 0–3 in the Goffertstadion and 1–0 in Hamburg. However, the progression into the last 32 capped off the most successful year in the club's history. N.E.C. was lauded for their terrific football and their sociability. Supporters were complimented in Europe, especially by Franz Beckenbauer, who said he had never witnessed such great ambiance from away-supporters and that Premier League clubs had never seen so many away-fans at a club-match (4,500).[2]

Relegation and return[edit]

At the end of the 2013–14 season, N.E.C. prevented direct relegation by holding Ajax to a 2–2 draw in Amsterdam on the last matchday with a brace from Alireza Jahanbakhsh.[3] However, in the following relegation play-offs, N.E.C. lost 4–1 on aggregate to Eerste Divisie's 16th placed Sparta Rotterdam and again relegated to the second tier of Dutch football for the first time in 20 years. They bounced back however on the first attempt after beating Sparta 1–0 on 3 April 2015 to clinch the Eerste Divisie title with 6 games left.[4]

European Cup appearances[edit]

Season Competition Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
1983–84 Cup Winners' Cup 1. Round Norway Brann 1–1 1–0 2–1
2. Round Spain Barcelona 2–3 0–2 2–5
2003–04 UEFA Cup 1. Round Poland Wisła Kraków 1–2 1–2 2–4
2008–09 UEFA Cup 1. Round Romania Dinamo Bucharest 1–0 0–0 1–0
Groupstage Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 2–3
Groupstage England Tottenham Hotspur 0–1
Groupstage Russia Spartak Moscow 2–1
Groupstage Italy Udinese 2–0
3. Round Germany Hamburger SV 0–3 0–1 0–4

Current squad[edit]

As of 25 July 2016

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
2 Germany DF Michael Heinloth
3 Denmark DF Dario Dumić (Captain)
4 Poland DF Wojciech Golla
5 Netherlands DF Robin Buwalda
6 Sweden DF Mikael Dyrestam
7 Sweden FW Sam Lundholm
9 Netherlands MF Joey Sleegers
10 Australia MF Stefan Mauk
11 Netherlands FW Quincy Owusu-Abeyie
14 Germany FW Reagy Ofosu
No. Position Player
16 France FW Kévin Mayi
17 Romania FW Mihai Roman
19 Portugal MF Janio Bikel
20 Netherlands FW Mohamed Rayhi
21 Germany MF Julian von Haacke
22 Netherlands GK Joshua Smits
26 Netherlands GK Marco van Duin
31 Netherlands FW Jay-Roy Grot
34 Netherlands MF Gregor Breinburg
37 Netherlands DF Jeffrey Leiwakabessy

Youth/reserves squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Netherlands GK Guy Smit
Netherlands DF Thijmen Goppel
Netherlands DF Ozgur Aktas
Belgium DF Bart Buysse
Netherlands DF Mike Pröpper
Netherlands DF Patrick-Prosper Fini
Netherlands DF Frank Sturing
Netherlands MF Jeroen Buitenhuis
No. Position Player
Netherlands MF Arnaut Groeneveld
Netherlands MF Vincent Tel
Netherlands MF Jesper Kaaks
Netherlands FW Nassim Amaarouk
Netherlands FW Milton Klooster
Netherlands FW Segun Owobowale
Netherlands FW Emilio Priëto

UEFA Current ranking[edit]

As of 26 April 2013[5]
Rank Country Team Points
115 Romania FC Vaslui 16.104
116 Netherlands N.E.C. 15.945
117 Slovakia MŠK Žilina 15.841

Former managers[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History at official N.E.C. website". N.E.C.] Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  2. ^ "Franz Beckenbauer about great ambiance N.E.C. Supporters". De Trouwe Honden. 2009-03-17. 
  3. ^ "NEC face play-off, Roda relegated". FIFA.com. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  4. ^ NEC in één jaar van hel naar hemel – AD (Dutch)
  5. ^ UEFA Club Coefficients – UEFA.com
  6. ^ "Managers". N.E.C. Nijmegen. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 

External links[edit]