Robin van der Laan
|Full name||Robertus Petrus van der Laan|
|Date of birth||5 September 1968|
|Place of birth||Schiedam, South Holland, Netherlands|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|1996||→ Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan)||7||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Robin van der Laan (born Robertus Petrus van der Laan on 5 September 1968) is a Dutch former footballer who spent most of his senior career in English football. He now works as the director of his own football school in Canada, also working as a senior coach for Manchester United Soccer Schools.
He began his playing career in his native the Netherlands with Eerste Divisie club Schiedamse Voetbal Vereniging in 1987, before moving on to Wageningen in 1990. In 1991, he moved to England to play for Port Vale, where after four seasons as one of the club's key players he was sold on to Derby County. He won the Football League Trophy with Vale in 1993, and won promotion out of the Second Division in 1993–94. He also won promotion out of the First Division with Derby in 1995–96. In 1998, he transferred to Barnsley, where he saw out his professional playing career until his retirement due to injury in 2001. He made a total of 315 appearances in a ten-year career in the Football League.
Van der Laan started his career at Eerste Divisie side Schiedamse Voetbal Vereniging in 1987. The club finished in mid-table in 1987–88 and 1988–89, before winning promotion to the Eredivisie as 1989–90 Eerste Divisie champions. However he remained in the Dutch second tier as he switched to Wageningen midway through the 1989–90 season. In four years in the Netherlands he played 59 games for SVV and 27 games for Wageningen.
He was signed by English Second Division side Port Vale in February 1991 for a fee of £80,000 after impressing on trial. Initially signed as a striker, manager John Rudge converted him into a midfielder. Instantly recognisable for his mane of long blonde hair, Van der Laan soon became a popular figure with the Vale fans, his bustling style and midfield engine enabled him to settle into the English game very quickly, as he hit four goals in eighteen games in 1990–91.
He made 49 appearances in 1991–92, scoring six goals, including a strike in front of the Kop in a 2–2 League Cup draw with Liverpool. Despite his contribution, Vale were relegated, though due to the creation of the Premier League, the Third Division became the Second Division. He made 53 appearances in 1992–93, scoring ten goals, helping the "Valiants" to both the League Trophy Final and the play-off Final. Vale beat Stockport County 2–1 in the cup final at Wembley, but lost 3–0 to West Bromwich Albion in the play-off final.
Vale went on to win promotion into the First Division in 1993–94, following a second-place finish. He was again a key player at Vale Park in 1994–95, as the club retained their second tier status. However his good looks and popularity with the Vale fans saw him targeted by the more thuggish element of rivals Stoke City and he was punched in the face whilst inside a pizza and kebab house in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 18 June 1995.
In the summer of 1995, Van der Laan was sold to Derby County for a fee of £475,000 plus Lee Mills. He was made captain by manager Jim Smith and was an influential member of the team. He scored the goal which sealed promotion to the Premier League in 1996 – this made him a permanent fan favourite. He made 21 appearances for the "Rams" in 1996–97, and also spent October and November on loan at First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers, playing seven games. Injury limited him to thirteen appearances in 1997–98, his final season at Pride Park.
Van der Laan signed for Barnsley in summer 1998 for a fee of £325,000. He played twenty games for the First Division club in 1998–99, scoring twice. He made 37 appearances in 1999–2000, as the "Tykes" reached the play-offs, only to lose 4–2 to Ipswich Town in the final. He played 22 games in 2000–01, before a recurring knee injury he picked up in December 2000 forced him to retire from professional football in March 2001, at the age of 32. He later played for Newcastle Town, after coming out of retirement in September 2003.
Style of play
Van der Laan was an excellent set-piece taker.
Van der Laan worked as the Head International Coach for Manchester United Soccer Schools. He set up The Robin van der Laan Soccer School and Academy in Canada. He was appointed assistant manager at Newcastle Town in May 2014. He was taken ill whilst coaching for Manchester United in Saudi Arabia in May 2016 and underwent heart surgery.
|FC Wageningen||1989–90||Eerste Divisie||17||2||–||–||–||–||17||2|
|Port Vale||1990–91||Second Division||18||4||0||0||0||0||18||4|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan)||1996–97||First Division||7||0||0||0||0||0||7||0|
|Derby County||1995–96||First Division||39||6||1||0||3||0||43||6|
- with Port Vale
- TNT Tournament winner: 1992
- Football League Trophy winner: 1993
- Football League Second Division runner-up: 1993–94
- with Derby County
- "Robin van der Laan". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 297. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
- Owen, Gareth (5 November 2011). "Gareth Owen: Life in League Two can be too hot to handle for some foreign imports". The Sentinel: The Green UN. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "Barnsley duo forced to retire". BBC Sport. 9 March 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
- "Dutch Coup for Newcastle Town". 6 September 2003. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Baggaley, Michael (5 October 2013). "Chris Lines in good company when it comes to taking free-kicks". The Sentinel. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- "Port Vale legend Robin Van der Laan made coach at Newcastle Town". The Sentinel. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- Baggaley, Mike (5 May 2016). "Port Vale and Derby County hero Robin van der Laan recovering after heart surgery". The Sentinel. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
- Robin van der Laan profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- "Profile". voetbalschrijver (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 July 2016.
- Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879–1993. Witan Books. p. 236. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8.