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Pieter Robert ("Rob") Rensenbrink (born July 3, 1947 in Amsterdammarker) is a former Dutchmarker football player and member of the Dutch national football team that reached two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. A creative left winger of considerable talent, he became a legend in Belgium whilst playing in the great Anderlecht side of the 1970's. A talented dribbler as well as a cool finisher, he only ever missed two penalties in his entire career, and often enjoyed telling the keeper before hand where he was going to place the ball, and then still beating him there.


Club Career

Born in Amsterdam, Rensenbrink started his career at DWS, an Amsterdam amateur club, before moving to Belgianmarker side Club Brugge in 1969. Between 1971 and 1980 he played for Anderlecht where he enjoyed his greatest club successes, winning the Cup Winners' Cup in 1976 and 1978 (and runners-up in 1977) alongside compatriot Arie Haan.

International Career

Rensenbrink made his international debut for the Netherlands national football team against Scotland in 1968, but picked up relatively few caps due to competition for the forward positions with Johan Cruijff and Piet Keizer. However, Rinus Michels included him for the 1974 FIFA World Cup squad that travelled to West Germany.

The Dutch side that took part in the 1974 FIFA World Cup were the pinnacle of Total Football. Most of the 1974 team were made up of players from AFC Ajax and Feyenoord, so Rensenbrink was an outsider and was unfamiliar with playing the system. His preferred position was up front on the left, but that position was already Johan Cruijff's domain, he played on the left-wing position in midfield, taking over from Ajax player Piet Keizer. He missed one game in the tournament (when Keizer played instead) and was only half-fit for the final after picking up an injury during the semi-final against Brazil. Rinus Michels gambled on Rensenbrink's fitness and played him from start - however he only lasted until half-time and was replaced by René van de Kerkhof. The Netherlands took an early lead through a Johan Neeskens penalty, but goals from Paul Breitner and Gerd Müller gave West Germany a 2-1 victory.

Rensenbrink stayed in the Dutchmarker national side during the qualifiers and finals of the 1976 European Football Championship. However, the Netherlands fell at the semi-final stage to Czechoslovakia.

In the 1978 FIFA World Cup tournament in Argentinamarker, the Netherlands again reached the final, but this time without Cruijff (who decided to retire from international football) and under the guidance of Ernst Happel rather than Michels. Out of the shadow of Cruijff, Rensenbrink found more room to showcase his own considerable talent, playing on the left-hand side of a front three alongside Johnny Rep and René van de Kerkhof. He scored a hat-trick in the opening game against Iran, another against Scotland which was goal number 1000 in World Cup history and a penalty in the 5-1 win over Austria. In the final, the Netherlands yet again met the hosts. In a tumultuous match, the Netherlands fell behind to a first-half Mario Kempes strike. After Dick Nanninga's equalizer 9 minutes from time, a long pass from the Dutch captain Ruud Krol in the last 30 seconds of normal time put Rensenbrink in the clear with only Ubaldo Fillol, the Argentinian keeper, to beat. However his shot was deflected onto the post and bounced clear. Had the shot went in, it is likely that Holland would have won the World Cup with Rensenbrink being top goal scorer. Argentina scored twice in extra-time for a 3-1 victory and the Netherlands again had to settle for the runners-up spot.

Rensenbrink played some of the qualifiers for Euro 80, but after earning his 46th cap in 1979 (a 2-0 defeat by Poland in a qualifier for Euro 80), he retired from international football at the age of 32, having scored 14 times for his country. In 1980, he left Anderlecht and wound down his career with a spell at Portland Timbers in the NASL, followed by a brief stay with Toulouse in France in 1981.He along with Eusébio are the only players to score the most goals from a penalty spot in a tournament (4 in 1978).

He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004.

Career statistics


*1972, 1974

*1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976

*1976, 1978



"If the trajectory of my shot had been five centimetres different, we would have been world champions. On top of that, I would have been crowned top scorer and perhaps chosen as the best player of the tournament - all in the same match. That's why I keep things in perspective."

Mario Kempessays : “If (Rob) Rensenbrink hadn’t hit the post in the Final, he would have been the top scorer.”

Jan Muldersays : "Robbie Resenbrink was as good as Cruijff, only in his mind was he not."


  1. Argentina - Netherlands - I was there,, Copyright ©1994 - 2009 FIFA

1965-66 Door Wilskracht Sterk Eredivisie 23 5
1966-67 29 4
1967-68 34 10
1968-69 34 15

1969-70 Club Brugge First Division 27 10
1970-71 28 14
1971-72 Anderlecht First Division 30 16
1972-73 24 16
1973-74 29 20
1974-75 35 19
1975-76 35 23
1976-77 34 16
1977-78 24 18
1978-79 31 12
1979-80 20 3

1980 Portland Timbers North American Soccer League 18 6

1981-82 Toulouse Division 2 12 1

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