Twins in Football: Frank And Ronald De Boer

Ronald and Frank De Boer, born on May 15, 1970, with Ronald being the elder by ten minutes, followed nearly identical career paths.

An image illustration of Ronald de Boer and Frank de Boer
Ronald de Boer and (right) Frank de Boer
PHOTO Courtesy | Telegraph India

They both played for the Netherlands national team and featured for five clubs, starting together at Ajax in the late 1980s.

Frank And Ronald De Boer Career

An infograhic illustration of Frank And Ronald De Boer

Ajax

Under the management of Johan Cruyff at Ajax, the brothers debuted in the 1987/88 Dutch Cup, with Frank’s debut in the first round and Ronald’s in the second, where he marked his first-team appearance with a goal.

They gradually became mainstays in the team, with Frank excelling as a left-sided center-back and Ronald playing an unorthodox right-wing role, reminiscent of Thomas Muller’s style at the time.

In 1989/90, they achieved league success before Ronald briefly moved to Twente in 1991, returning to Ajax in January 1993 under the management of Louis van Gaal.

The Ajax team, under van Gaal’s “Total Football” tactics, saw success domestically and internationally, with the De Boer twins playing alongside notable names like Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, and others.

During van Gaal’s tenure, Ajax won three consecutive titles from 1993/94 to 1995/96 and secured the club’s fourth European Cup in 1994/95 by going unbeaten throughout the league season.

However, despite reaching another final the following year, the departure of key players and changes in football regulations marked the end of their era at Ajax.

Barcelona

In 1999, the brothers joined Barcelona under van Gaal’s management, adding to the Dutch contingent at the club.

The De Boers were the latest additions to the influx of talent in Catalonia, swelling the Dutch contingent at the club to eight players, alongside King Louis and three of his coaches, including Ronald Koeman.

Their arrival coincided with immediate success, as Barcelona clinched their second consecutive La Liga title, marking the sixth league triumph for the brothers collectively.

However, this achievement stood as the sole trophy either brother secured during their tenure, as Barcelona endured an uncharacteristic drought by their lofty standards.

Individually, their experiences at the club diverged significantly. Frank, akin to his role at Ajax, assumed the captain’s armband on numerous occasions and featured in over 200 matches during his four-and-a-half-year spell.

In contrast, Ronald encountered a notable downturn in form, experiencing the only blip in his illustrious career as his goal-scoring prowess waned, managing just three goals in 54 appearances over an unhappy 18-month period at the Nou Camp.

De Boer Brothers Retirement

Qatar became a haven for retirement rather than a sunset destination for the De Boer brothers.

They ventured through the Qatari desert, donning the jerseys of both Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal.

In 2006, Frank announced his retirement, leaving Ronald to soldier on alone until 2008.

Frank and Ronald De Boer International Career

At the international level, Frank and Ronald De Boer amassed a combined total of 179 caps, with Frank notching up 112 (becoming the first Dutch player to reach 100 caps) and Ronald securing 67.

Both siblings found luck in the number 13, tallying that many goals in their international careers.

Frank led the Netherlands on a record-setting 44 occasions, participating in the European Championships of 1992, 2000, and 2004, as well as the World Cups of 1994 and 1998.

Ronald, on the other hand, contributed to the EURO 1996 squad and the 2000 edition, along with sharing the World Cup journey with his brother.

Their collaborative journey saw them grace the field together on over 400 occasions, predominantly at Ajax (275 matches), the national team (56 matches), and Barcelona (41 matches).

They shared the spotlight in some of football’s grandest stages, including two Champions League finals in 1995 and 1996, a World Cup semi-final in 1998, and a EURO semi-final in 2000.

Despite their shared experiences, both tasted the bitterness of penalty shootout defeats in the latter two events, with Ronald missing in 1998 and Frank faltering in 2000.

De Boer Fan Facts

Notably, the De Boer twins hold the distinction of being the most capped twins in international football history, surpassing the identical Berezutskis by 20 caps.

Their trophy haul while playing together matches that of the Nevilles, with each pair securing 14 trophies.

Beyond the pitch, both brothers captained Ajax at various points in their careers.

Frank graced the cover of the international edition of FIFA ’96 alongside Jason McAteer, whose actions in a match against Frank’s Dutch side during the 2002 World Cup denied them a place in the tournament.

Individually, Ronald earned Dutch Player of the Year honors in both 1994 and 1996.

Meanwhile, Frank embarked on a varied managerial career, experiencing success at Ajax with four consecutive league titles from 2010/11 to 2013/14, but enduring short-lived stints at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace, leading to his dismissal from both clubs.

Jose Mourinho notably criticized Frank as the “worst manager in the history of the Premier League” in response to comments about his handling of Marcus Rashford. Additionally, Frank served as an assistant to Bert van Marwijk at the 2010 World Cup, where the Netherlands fell to Spain in the final.

He later took the reins of the national team for 15 matches from September 2020 to June 2021, stepping down after a disappointing quarter-final exit at the European Championships.

His successor was none other than his former teammate Ronald Koeman, who had been succeeded by their old mentor Louis van Gaal.

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