Stellars Club

The Kluiverts: the legacy of the Dutch goalscorer

The year was 2002. Patrick Kluivert faced his fourth season at Can Barça and was already considered one of the best strikers in European football. In the fields of the old sports city of FC Barcelona next to La Masia ran and played several children of the footballers of the first team of the club culé. Among those children were Quincy and Justin, Patrick’s sons. From a very young age, they have been linked to the ball. For as long as they can remember, football has been the main focus of their lives. And from the moment they first put on their boots, they have part of that great responsibility to fulfil what is expected of them: to be footballers like their father was. A responsibility in the form of pressure that every footballer’s son has to live with. To continue his father’s legacy: to follow the path and the mark he has left on the pitch.

8183 days passed between Patrick Kluivert’s debut for Ajax on 21 August 1994 and the birth of his second son, Justin, also with the same Dutch club. Patrick did it with 18. Justin was 17. The name Kluivert, so important in the club’s history, was back on the Ajax shirt twenty years later. With the 45 on his back, a very different figure to his father and in a different position, Justin Kluivert made his debut in an official match with Ajax and made his baptism in the Eredivisie. His father Patrick was a tall, imposing and technical striker. Justine is a vertical winger, a dribbler, a dribbler and with a devilish speed. Nothing to see. Except, of course, the surname.

It’s nice that your father is a player, but it always means you’ll be compared to him. When a well-known footballer has a child, they watch closely how it develops. People wonder: will the son be a footballer too? And if so, will he be able to follow in his father’s footsteps?

Justin Kluivert in a Goal interview

Justin did not have an easy start, the ever-present responsibility of carrying the name of the player who scored Ajax’s last European Cup-winning goal at the age of just 18 was compounded by the extra pressure he was under when word spread around the Netherlands that the son of that legend was becoming the star of the youth team of the country’s best youth academy, and one of the best in Europe. Thanks to his courageous and determined personality all that pressure was channelled into a desire to excel and young Justin was rewarded, as we have written, on January 15, 2017. From there his career was, like Justin’s playing, electric and meteoric.

His first goal came just two months later in a match against Excelsior from a pass by current Chelsea player Hakim Ziyech. With his way of playing he soon won over the fans who have seen so much crack at the Amsterdam Arena and a place in the Ajax eleven. That daring personality, having that virtue of lifting the stadium with just a move or a dribble and with a nose for goal that came from that name that always carries with pride on his back.

Justin Kluivert celebrating a goal in his Ajax shirt.

Justin had become a reality. Even more so when he overtook his father to become the first Kluivert to score a hat-trick in the Dutch league. He did it when he was only 18 years old. And at that age he also won Goal magazine’s 2018 NxGn award for the world’s most promising youngster ahead of the likes of reigning European champions Chelsea’s Kai Havert and Mason Mount, Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak and the always outstanding Ferran Torres, Phil Foden and Vinicius Junior. Justin Kluivert was on his way to stardom.

I am proud of my last name. It’s an honour to be able to play under that name. I can handle it well. I intend to make the family name even bigger.” .

Justin Kluivert, a few weeks after making his Ajax debut

Justin followed his father’s legacy and emigrated from his country to improve and play against the best: his destination was Calcio as Patrick also did but the son chose the eternal city, Rome, and there he again excelled in his early career. As on every road Justin encountered bumps, that led him to the Bundesliga and France where in Nice he seems to rediscover that version that amazed the world in 2018.

His father’s legacy: Patrick Kluivert

Justin learned from one of the best centre-forwards Holland has ever produced. Patrick Kluivert would make his debut as his son at the age of 17 for the Amsterdam club and it would not take long for him to become a benchmark in European football. His goal in the European Cup final and eventual winner at the age of just 18 is an integral part of the club’s recent history. A goal that also made him go down in the records of the top competition by becoming the youngest player to score in a Champions League final.

Patrick Kluivert in an Ajax shirt
(Source: UEFA)

Like his son, he also won the young player of the year award in 1995, the Bravo Trophy, and saw the opportunity to continue his development outside the Netherlands. The experience in Calcio in Milan was not positive, which led him to Barcelona. To one of the grayest times of the Culés where Patrick with ups and downs was one of the few lights that illuminated the Camp Nou. He spent six seasons there and scored 122 goals.

At the same time, Patrick continued his love affair with goals for his national team. With Holland he would go on to become the top scorer in their history until 2004 and today is the third highest scorer behind only Robin Van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

A legend, one of the most feared strikers of the 2000s and surely the best in the world in his day playing with his back to goal. A total striker. Patrick Kluivert.

The origin of the goal and the new promise of the saga

The Kluivert saga has two more chapters: the origin of the goalscorer’s nose for goal and the new guest who can break down the door and surpass the legacy that his grandfather, father and brother made and continue to make in professional football. A saga of legendary strikers that seems to have no end in sight.

The origin of the Kluivert goal has a name and a surname: Kenneth Kluivert, Patrick Kluivert’s father. Born in Calcutta, Suriname in 1940. Suriname, then known as Dutch Guiana, was a colony of the Dutch country. There Kenneth excelled in the local team, Robinhood, in which he was on numerous occasions top scorer of the competition. More than 300 games, more than 300 goals. The goal was in his blood. A quality that transcended to his son, Patrick, who was born six years after Kenneth moved to Amsterdam with his wife. Calcutta and Kenneth were the origin. Amsterdam, the turning point.

Kluivert watching a game in the stands
(Source: Getty)

This saga has a chapter that has recently begun to be written. Shane Kluivert, the last son of Patrick that with only eight years already stands out in the quarry of the same FC Barcelona and that with that age, Nike has already noticed him and sponsors him. A saga that is leaving a legacy of football but above all a legacy of goals. And it seems that it will hardly end in these lines. There are still Kluivert and goals for a while.

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