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Know Your Legends, Ch:1

Ronald Koeman

On the 20th of May in 1992, Barcelona were at Wembley facing Sampdoria in the European Cup final. The man in charge was Johan Cruijff and the last thing the legendary Dutchman told his men before he sent them onto the field was, "Go out and enjoy it".

Barcelona had dominated the second half, and Hristo Stoichkov had nearly scored for the Catalans but the Bulgarian's attempt had ricocheted off the post. Gianluca Vialli had missed two chances for Sampdoria, and it seemed inevitable that the game would go to extra-time from the looks of Sampdoria's compact defence that included more than half their outfield players at any given time.

The Italians seemed content to squeeze the life out of the game, and try their luck at penalties—in the wake of the Blaugrana attack, it seemed like the best course of action possible at the time for the Serie A side.

One man, however, wasn't having any of it.

At the 111th minute, Barcelona scored from a thunderous freekick 25 yards out, to break the dead-lock and take home their first ever European cup.

The man was Ronald Koeman, and this is his legend.

The stocky Dutchman was brought to the Camp Nou by then manager Johan Cruijff after impressive spells in the Eredivisie with Ajax & PSV and would go on to become a mainstay in Cruijff's project at Barcelona, better known as the "Dream Team".

Ronald Koeman was a sweeper by nature and much of his role was characterised by his incredible ability to pass the ball out from the back. The defender possessed the vision of a midfielder, a role he played occasionally, and was popular for his incredibly accurate long-balls over the top.

Koeman—or Tintin as he is fondly called— however, wasn't just another quintessential sweeper-defender.

Having scored a staggering 102 goals in 345 appearances spanning over six season, the Dutch centre-back was the ultimate goal-scoring machine, with a record that could put strikers around the world to shame.

Still remembered for his thunderous strikes, Ronnie was a master at penalties and free-kicks which at one point of time, were clocked at nearly 70 mph, and this was before the introduction of the modern lighter ball!

In an era that saw the game revolutionised, Ronald Koeman was instrumental in redefining the way we describe the new-age ball-playing centre-back.

Koeman would go on to win 1 European Cup (1991/92), 1 European Super Cup (1992), 4 Leagues (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93, 93/94), 1 Copa del Rey (1989/90), 2 Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992), and 2 Copa Catalunya (1990/91 and 92/93) during his time at the club and will forever be remembered as the man who gave Barça their first ever European glory.

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