FC Twente – Club Profile of an Unlikely Challanger in Holland

FC TwenteImage: Source

If you’re looking at the Eredivise table you will probably notice something unusual. The league leaders are FC Twente. For now FC Twente and PSV are the only two sides who remain unbeaten 10 games into the season.

A Brief History of FC Twente

FC Twente was formed in 1965 after a merger of two professional clubs in Enschede – one of them even won the championship but it was long before the Eredivise became professional in 1956.

The Tukkers, a nickname given to the team for it’s geographical location in the eastern part of the Netherlands, started their chapter as FC Twente in the Eredivise under the coaching of Kees Rijvers, an ex midfielder for AS Saint-Etienne, Feyenoord and NAC. Under Kees’s 6 season reign the club managed to establish itself in the top tier of Dutch football. The club regularly featured in continental competitions for most of the 70’s and establishing itself as the 4th best team in Netherlands after PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord.

The 1973-74 season almost turned out to be FC Twente’s first championship season, but a last day loss to Feyenoord at Rotterdam left the Championship there.

Epi DrostImage: Source

In the 1974-1975 season FC Twente reached 4th place in the Eredivise and almost won the UEFA Cup,however they lost the final to Borussia Monchengladbach (The two legged system saw FC Twente managing to draw in the away leg and losing 5-1(!) in the home leg) after beating Juventus in the semis (3-1 in the first leg and a 1-0 win in the 2nd leg in Turin after a Solo run from Johan Zuidema). FC Twente lost that season in the KNVB cup final to Den Haag.

In 1977 FC Twente won their first KNVB Cup win after a 3-0 win over PEC Zwolle and an amazing goal from “Mister FC Twente”, Epi Drost. Apart from the 1979 KNVB Cup 3-0 defeat to Ajax the club haven’t achieved any other honours.

FC Twente entered the 80’s and unlike the 70’s experienced a big downfall. George Graham probably attended many FC Twente games and shaped his Arsenal according to that model because in the 80’s the team was known as “boring Twente”.

The club featured regularly in Continental competitions since the mid 80’s until the beginning of the 90’s but the team couldn’t reach the highs of the 70’s.In the 82-83 season FC Twente sunk to 16th place and got relegated, although they managed to win a promotion the season after. The late 80’s almost saw FC Twente near bankruptcy but a consortium led by Marc Overmars’s father, Johan, saved the club and got back to the top tier of Dutch Soccer once again (but they haven’t broken the Ajax-Feyenoord-PSV trio status quo).

The Tukkers continued to be a high ranking team in the Eredivise through most of the 90’s. Their best league finish of that decade was the 3rd place in the 96-97 season domestically and the third round in the UEFA Cup, all this was achieved during the reign of Hans Meyer as Manager.

In 2001,under the management of Fred Rutten, former defender of the club in the eighties, FC Twente won their 2nd KNVB Cup after winning a penalty shout-out against PSV (after being 3-1 down). The team made the final of the KNVB Cup but lost 1-0 to FC Utrecht. The team achieved 4th place after an excellent 06-07 and 07-08  in the Eredivise.

FC Twente signed Steve McClaren as manager in 20 June 2008.

Steve McClarenImage: Source

After his notorious spell as England Manager, which saw them out of a major tournament the first time in 14 years, McClaren started the 08-09 season very well and led the team to their first performance of Champions League football (although they didn’t qualify for the group stage, being knocked out by Arsenal) and led Twente to their 2nd runners up position in the Eredivise and their 6th KNVB final (losing on a penalty shoot-out against Heerenveen).

Today FC Twente, as mentioned earlier, continue their success and top the Eredivise table with the help of players such as top club scorer , the Swiss Blaise N’Kufo, the new recruit, Costa-Rican forward Brian Ruiz, Danish Forward Kenneth Perez and the Dutch midfielder Theo Janssen.

FC Twente won against AZ last week and tomorrow will meet FC Groningen. If the Tukkers manage to continue their recent success maybe this year will be the season Twente finally can join the Champions Circle and McClaren can continue his long road of redemption.