Ronald De Boer's Perfect XI: "When Rivaldo won the Ballon d'Or, he gave us all a silver plate to thank us"

Ronald De Boer, Ajax
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ronald De Boer racked up seven league titles across his career at Barcelona, Rangers and Ajax – picking up a Champions League winners' medal with the latter.

He even won Dutch Footballer of the Year twice in the 1990s, at a time when Ajax were treating the Eredivisie to some of the best players in Europe.

FourFourTwo sat down with him to ask what a team of his best ever team-mates would look like. 

Ronald De Boer's Perfect XI

(Image credit: Future)

Ronald De Boer's Perfect XI – Goalkeeper: Edwin van der Sar

“Edwin was as cool as ice – very relaxed. He was strong with a ball at his feet and always knew how we wanted to execute our game plans. Louis van Gaal used to tell his defenders, ‘Don’t make any risky tackles, because even if an opponent is through on goal, we have Van der Sar’.”

Right-back: Danny Blind

“An underestimated player. Danny had distinct qualities that weren’t noticed by everyone. He surged forward in a kind of sweeper role, as he just had this drive to get upfield whenever we were attacking. He also conditioned himself really well: in the mid-90s he would run about 12km per game, which wasn’t common then.”

Centre-back: Frank Rijkaard

“A charismatic footballer with fantastic stamina. Frank was an all-rounder who excelled in every position. Even near the end of a match, he could set an attack in motion while still having things under control defensively.”

Centre-back: Jaap Stam

“A rock at the back – almost unbeatable. Jaap was seriously strong in challenges and hard to get past with his physicality. He proved his quality at the top level by playing for Manchester United and Milan. The Virgil van Dijk of his era.”

Left-back: Frank De Boer

“He had a brilliant understanding of the game; my brother did everything on his intuition. He would anticipate situations in a match rather than react to them, and he had amazing technique, too.”

Centre-midfield: Dennis Bergkamp

“A unique footballer – he did all the simple things so well, when those are usually the most difficult to master. Dennis was excellent at controlling the ball on the run, and then finishing his chances in front of goal. He combined speed with great technique.”

Centre-midfield: Pep Guardiola

“A very intelligent player with incredible vision. Pep was good at delaying passes, then playing them at the right moments. He was the brains of the team and took a leading role inside the dressing room.”

Centre-midfield: Jari Litmanen

“When Jari joined Ajax, no one expected him to become so good. He was great at waiting for the right times to find space, and an assassin around the penalty box. He would practise for hours, finding the top and bottom corners using both feet.”

Right-wing: Rivaldo

“Rivaldo was the best I ever played with. He dribbled like no one else in the world, his shooting and free-kicks were terrific, and the way he cut inside was magical. He had an unbelievable left foot, but his right was basically only for standing on! When he won the Ballon d’Or [in 1999], he gave all his team-mates a small silver plate to thank us. It was a nice gesture.”

Centre-forward: Patrick Kluivert

“A complete striker. Patrick was quick and incredibly powerful; absolute dynamite. He could shoot with both feet, but was also really strong in the air and technically good. He reminds me a bit of Robert Lewandowski – although nowadays, there are very few proper centre-forwards quite like Patrick.”

Left-wing: Luis Figo

 “He was an outstanding dribbler for Barcelona, unparalleled with his twists and turns. And one thing that many people forget: Luis was never injured.”

Manager: Louis van Gaal

“He left nothing to chance, focusing on every little detail. I’ve called him my second father, as I owe him a lot – sometimes, he gave Frank and I a lift home during our early days at Ajax.”


Philip Cocu

Clarence Seedorf

Claudio Caniggia

Read more Perfect XIs here

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Arthur Renard has been writing for FourFourTwo since 2013, when Ronald Koeman hosted him for a Readers interview in a small room in stadium De Kuip. Two years later Arthur moved to London, where he still lives and from where he covers English football, while he has also been travelling the world to cover events like the World Cup and Copa America.