Following the realignment of UEFA's youth competitions in 1976, the Dutch Under-21 team was formed. The team did not have a very good record, failing to qualify for nine of the fifteen tournaments. The team did not enter for the 1978 competition, but since then has reached the semi-finals twice, and qualified for the last eight on three other occasions.
Since the under-21 competition rules insist that players must be 21 or under at the start of a two-year competition, technically it is an U-23 competition. For this reason, the Netherlands' record in the preceding U-23 competitions is also shown. The first competitive match was in the "Under-23 Challenge", a match which they lost. The team qualified for the last eight of each of the three U-23 tournaments.