Whatever the result may be when the Netherlands face Chile for their final group stage match in the 2014 World Cup, it won’t matter – both teams have qualified to the next stage. However, without a suspended Robin van Persie, it’ll be the first time the Dutch national team plays an international match with a player whose surname begins with ‘Van’ since 1996.
According to the Algemeen Dagblad, it’s been 221 matches, competitive and friendly, since the Netherlands took the field without a single ‘Van’ on their team. It was in a friendly match against China 18 years ago. In the World Cup of 1994, the Netherlands played a match against Belgium in the group stage and lost, which was the last time they lined up for a major competition without someone with a ‘Van’ in their surname.
The Netherlands lost Rafael van der Vaart before the tournament to an injury, and full back Gregory van der Wiel, who was a member of the team that made the 2010 World Cup final, was dropped because of poor form before the naming of the final squad.
Marco van Basten, Edwin van der Sar, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ruud van Nistelrooy. The Netherlands has a history filled with great players and ‘Van’ showing up somewhere in their name. For at least one match, they’ll have to handle a challenge without one.
According to Wikipedia, van is a preposition in the Dutch and Afrikaans languages, meaning “of” or “from“. It is also a common prefix in Dutch language surnames.