Excelsior Rotterdam

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Excelsior Rotterdam logo 2021.svg
Full nameStichting Betaald Voetbal Excelsior Rotterdam
Nickname(s)The Kralingers
Roodzwarten (red-blacks)
The Wonder
Oud papier-club (Paper recycling club)
Founded23 July 1902; 120 years ago (1902-07-23)
GroundVan Donge & De Roo Stadion
ChairmanBob de Lange
ManagerMarinus Dijkhuizen
2022–23Eredivisie, 15th of 18
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Excelsior Rotterdam, commonly known as Excelsior, is a Dutch professional football club based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They play in the Eredivisie, the top tier of Dutch football from the 2022–23 season following promotion. The club was founded on 23 July 1902 and was formerly known as "Rotterdamse Voetbal en Atletiek Vereniging Excelsior" (Rotterdam Football and Athletics Club Excelsior). Excelsior's home stadium is the Stadion Woudestein – for sponsorship reasons known as the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion – which has a capacity of about 4,500, one of the smallest stadiums hosting professional football in the Netherlands.


Early history[edit]

Excelsior were officially formed on 23 July 1902 as Rotterdamse Voetbal en Atletiek Vereniging Excelsior (English: Rotterdam Football and Athletics Club Excelsior). However, the initial founders of the club, a group of close friends located in the Kralingen district of Rotterdam, were already playing their football matches together on the fields of the eighteenth century buitenplaats Woudesteyn. After the actual establishment of the club, the municipality officially gave permission to use the land.[2] As football was still an elite sport at the beginning of the 20th century, Excelsior became one of the first working class clubs in the Netherlands.[3]

First successes[edit]

In the season 1945–46, Excelsior gained their first success by promoting to the Eerste Klasse, the highest tier of Dutch football before professional football was introduced in 1954. The deciding match against VUC was played in De Kuip and attracted 52.000 spectators. Excelsior relegated in the next season, but managed to promote for the second time in the season 1951–52. After the introduction of professional football, Excelsior won the Eerste Divisie championship three times (1974, 1979 and 2006) and promoted to the Eredivisie various times, usually to relegate not long afterwards.

Excelsior once reached the KNVB Cup final in the season 1929–30, but lost the match to fellow Rotterdam club Feyenoord (0–1). Excelsior's biggest pre-war achievement was the win of the Zilveren Bal trophy. Excelsior beat Feyenoord (5–0) in the finals of the highly rated pre-season tournament.[3]

Founding father of Dutch professional football[edit]

In the mid-fifties, Excelsior were the leading club behind the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands. When the KNVB continued to refuse payments in football, Excelsior chairman Henk Zon and board member Aad Libregts managed to persuade association president Hans Hopster, in cooperation with the directors of Feyenoord, Sparta and ADO Den Haag. In August 1954 the KNVB accepted the proposal and professional football was introduced in the Netherlands.

Excelsior in the 1963–64 Season


Being the smallest professional club in Rotterdam, Excelsior always had to be creative to survive. This creativity made Excelsior play a pioneering role within Dutch football. In 1958 Excelsior became the first Dutch club with covered stands. Later, in 1974, Excelsior also were the first Dutch club with shirt advertising. Against the then existing rules, the club put an 'A' on the shirt. The character was supposed to stand for 'Team A', but in reality it stood for Akai, the company of main investor Rob Albers. The KNVB decided to ban the 'A' from the shirt and it would take until 1982 for shirt advertising to be introduced. Akai would adorn the shirts of Excelsior until the season 1999–00.[3]


In 2002, the year in which the club was officially 100 years old, Excelsior returned to the Eredivisie. They did this after spending more than 20 years in the second tier of Dutch football. They were relegated after one season. In the 2005/2006 season Excelsior became champions of the Eerste Divisie and were promoted back to the Eredivisie once again.

Between 1997 and 2005 Excelsior had a partnership with Rotterdam rivals Feyenoord. Excelsior became Feyenoord's satellite club. As such, Feyenoord gave Excelsior money and players (either on loan or free transfer).

A majority of the Excelsior fans have always been against a partnership with Feyenoord. Michel van der Neut, chairman of Excelsior's supporters club, claimed: "Excelsior sold her soul with the extended partnership. Excelsior simply stops existing this way."[4]

Recent history[edit]

In 2010 Excelsior returned to the highest tier of Dutch football, after defeating crosstown rival Sparta Rotterdam in the final of the Eredivisie promotion/relegation play-offs. The team was mostly composed by Feyenoord loanees and was coached by former Feyenoord youth coach Alex Pastoor. In the 2010–11 season Excelsior made a flying start in the Eredivisie, gaining ten points in its first five matches, including a home victory in the Rotterdam derby against Feyenoord (3–2). In the remainder of the season, Excelsior upset some of the larger league teams at home, winning against AZ and getting draws against Groningen and eventual league champions Ajax. In the final match of the regular season, Excelsior got a 4–1 win away at Vitesse Arnhem, a result that left them one goal short of staying up. Finishing 16th, Excelsior had to face FC Den Bosch and Helmond Sport in the relegation / promotion play-offs. A 4–2 home win against Helmond sport ensured another season of Eredivisie football for Excelsior.

Excelsior finished bottom of the table in the Eredivisie at the end of the 2011–12 season, managing only four wins in 34 matches. The club was again relegated to the Eerste Divisie and has had ups and downs since. In the 2022–23 season Excelsior will be playing in the Eredivisie after being relegated in 2019.[citation needed]

Eerste DivisieEredivisieEredivisieEerste DivisieEredivisieEerste DivisieEerste Divisie


Excelsior's home venue Stadion Woudestein

Excelsior's home venue is Stadion Woudestein, which has a capacity of 4,500 seats, one of the smallest stadiums hosting professional football in the Netherlands.

The club had two short spells at different locations. For the season 1907–08 Excelsior played on the Afrikaanderplein. After returning to Woudestein, Excelsior moved to the Toepad terrain for seasons 1922–39. When the Dutch government decided to build marine barracks on the Toepad area right before the start of the second world war, Excelsior moved back to the familiar Woudestein.[3]

In the early nineties Excelsior went through a difficult period. The club barely survived a financial crisis, but a newly appointed board under the chairmanship of Martin de Jager had one important goal; a new Excelsior stadium. Various plans were made, one of them being a joint stadium for Excelsior and Sparta, but eventually none of the plans were implemented. Due to financial pressure, Excelsior decided to take the plunge and started renovating Woudestein themselves. The club built two new stands themselves and with the help of the municipality the main stand got renovated as well, including business seats and office space. On 31 July 2000, the new stadium was opened with a friendly match against Feyenoord.[5]

When Excelsior promoted to the Eredivisie after the season 2009–10, the club decided to replace the grass surface with artificial turf. Main reason for the change was the lack of financial resources to install under-soil heating, which is mandatory for clubs participating on the highest level of Dutch football.[6]

Supporters and rivalries[edit]

Paper recycling club[edit]

Excelsior is known as the Oud papier-club (paper recycling club), because former chairman Henk Zon often used to collect old paper in order to secure the financial position of the club.


Since 2008 'Woutje Stein' is the official Excelsior mascot. He is named after the Woudestein-stadium.


Rotterdam is the city with the most professional teams in the Netherlands. Besides Excelsior there are Feyenoord and Sparta Rotterdam.

Rivalry against Feyenoord[edit]

Ever since the clubs used to work together Excelsior players and supporters have grown a more serious rivalry against Feyenoord. The majority of Excelsior supporters never wanted a cooperation with Feyenoord in the first place. On 22 May 2009, Excelsior supporters hosted a funeral as they felt like their club's identity had died due to the partnership with Feyenoord.[7]

In 2017 Excelsior won against Feyenoord (3–0), resulting in the latter not winning the Eredivisie title on that day. This resulted in riots.[8]

Rivalry against Sparta[edit]

Excelsior is from the Kralingen-neighbourhood and Sparta Rotterdam is from the Spangen-neighbourhood. Both clubs are not always playing in the Eredivisie, hence they play matches against each other in both the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie. The Feyenoord partnership Excelsior had in the past has resulted in more hatred from Sparta Rotterdam supporters.

One of the more spectacular matches between Excelsior and Sparta was the 2010 derby. Excelsior managed to gain promotion to the Eredivisie by winning against Sparta in the 94th minute of the match.[9]



Domestic results[edit]

Below is a table with Excelsior's domestic results since the introduction of the Eredivisie in 1956.

Current squad[edit]

As of 8 February 2023

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Netherlands NED Stijn van Gassel (captain)
2 DF Belgium BEL Siebe Horemans
3 DF Netherlands NED Kik Pierie (on loan from Ajax)
4 DF Netherlands NED Redouan El Yaakoubi
5 MF Germany GER Adrian Fein
6 MF Netherlands NED Joshua Eijgenraam
7 FW Serbia SRB Nikolas Agrafiotis
8 MF Netherlands NED Kenzo Goudmijn (on loan from AZ)
9 FW Netherlands NED Reda Kharchouch
10 FW Netherlands NED Marouan Azarkan (on loan from Feyenoord)
11 MF Belgium BEL Jacky Donkor
12 DF France FRA Arthur Zagré (on loan from Monaco)
14 FW Morocco MAR Couhaib Driouech
15 MF Netherlands NED Noah Naujoks
No. Pos. Nation Player
16 DF Netherlands NED Sven Nieuwpoort
17 DF Germany GER Maxime Awoudja
18 GK Netherlands NED Norbert Alblas
19 FW Netherlands NED Raphaël Eyongo
21 MF Morocco MAR Yassin Ayoub
22 MF Greece GRE Lazaros Lamprou
23 MF Netherlands NED Peer Koopmeiners (on loan from AZ)
24 DF Curaçao CUW Nathangelo Markelo
27 FW Netherlands NED Vicente Besuijen (on loan from Aberdeen)
28 DF Netherlands NED Nathan Tjoe-A-On
29 FW Netherlands NED Mike van Duinen
33 MF Netherlands NED Julian Baas
34 DF Netherlands NED Serano Seymor
38 GK Netherlands NED Pascal Kuiper

Out on loan[edit]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF Netherlands NED Michael Chacón (at Helmond Sport until 30 June 2023, obligation to buy)
No. Pos. Nation Player
FW Netherlands NED Luuk Admiraal (at Spakenburg until 30 June 2023)

Player of the year[edit]

The Excelsior 'Player of the Year' award is voted for by the club's supporters, in recognition of the best overall performance by an individual player throughout the football season. The annual election is organized by the supporters club Pro Excelsior since 1996.[10][11]


Current staff[edit]

Position Name
Manager Netherlands Marinus Dijkhuizen
Assistant manager Netherlands André Hoekstra
Assistant manager / technology strategist Japan Takahisa Shiraishi
Team manager Netherlands Dennis van der Neut
Goalkeeping coach Netherlands Ronald Graafland
Fitness coach Netherlands Mario Meijer
Physio Netherlands Maurice de Groot
Physio Netherlands Rinus Kerskes
Club doctor Netherlands Robert Jan de Vos
Kit manager Netherlands Rien van Wijk
Kit manager Netherlands John van Tilburg

Former managers[edit]

Notable former players[edit]

The players below had senior international cap(s) for their respective countries. Players whose name is listed represented their countries while playing for Excelsior.


  1. ^ "Cookies op AD.nl – AD.nl". www.ad.nl.
  2. ^ "De geschiedenis van Stadion Woudestein" [The history of Stadion Woudestein]. Supportersclub Pro Excelsior (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "Excelsior Historie" [Excelsior History]. SBVExcelsior.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Supportersvereniging roept op tot actie" [Supportersclub calls for action]. ERFC.nl (in Dutch). 21 May 2009. Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Excelsior Stadion" [Excelsior Stadium]. SBVExcelsior.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Excelsior op kunstgras in eredivisie" [Excelsior on artificial turf in Eredivisie]. SBVExcelsior.nl (in Dutch). 4 June 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Supportersvereniging roept op tot actie - Excelsior Rotterdam FC". www.erfc.nl. Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Rellen in Rotterdam na nederlaag Feyenoord bij Excelsior". 7 May 2017.
  9. ^ Wedstrijdverslag op ELF Voetbal
  10. ^ "Jeffrey Altheer beste speler 2008/2009" [Jeffrey Altheer best player 2008/2009]. ERFC.nl (in Dutch). 8 September 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2010.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Supportersclub". Pro Excelsior (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2010.

External links[edit]