When you’re putting together a list of your dream starting XI, you better start out your midfield by considering “Il Professore” (The Professor). Clarence Seedorf was one of the best midfielders you will ever come across. Born in Suriname, he moved to the Netherlands when he was 2 and came up in the Ajax academy along with players like Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids. He made his professional debut with Ajax in 1992 and made an immediate impact on the team. He eventually helped his team win the UEFA Champions League in 1995.
Seedorf played with pace, strength, and grace. He was cerebral with his approach, and could play anywhere in the midfield. One stat that is an incredible one: in 875 appearances, he only got 2 red cards. One of them was an incredible one where he got two successive yellows for leaving the field the wrong way after being substituted. Throughout his career, Seedorf was the guy you wanted on your team. He could create on offense, retain possession, and do all the little things to be an integral part of the lineup without dominating the headlines. He was a jack of all trades, a guy that could literally do anything and everything to help your team get a result.
But there was one area where Seedorf made a name for himself: scoring insane goals from long distance. His most famous was a goal he scored when he played for Real Madrid. In the Madrid derby in 1997, Seedorf took the ball just past midfield, and with the Atletico Madrid defense slacking and the keeper off his line, Seedorf teed it up from 45 yards:
An absolute laser. Seedorf wasn’t known as the guy who was going to be a focal point of the offense, but he did something every single match that made you remember his name. His 22-year career took him from Ajax to Sampdoria to Real Madrid to Inter Milan to AC Milan and then finally Botafogo.
Everywhere he went, he won...and he won major trophies. He is the first and only player to win the Champions League with 3 different teams: Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998, and Milan in 2003 and 2007. He’s hoisted 5 domestic league trophies, 3 domestic cups, 3 UEFA Supercups and a FIFA Club World Cup.
For the Dutch, Seedorf was the man in the middle, earning 87 caps and scoring 11 goals. He helped the Dutch to the semifinals in the 1998 World Cup, UEFA 2000 and UEFA 2004. His smart play in the midfield was the motor behind the Oranje’s success.
Because of his success, in 2004 Pelé named him to the FIFA 100 list, considering him one of the best players of all time. Still, he didn’t rest on his laurels, playing 10 more years before he retired with Botafogo in 2014. After his career, he moved into coaching, starting first with Milan, then moving to Shenzhen in China for a season. Recently, he took over the managerial duties at Deportivo La Coruña in Spain.
Clarence Seedorf was the ultimate barometer, always doing what the team needed to win, and doing it with style and grace. Relive some of his greatest moments throughout his career, and know that in your dream starting XI, you want a Clarence Seedorf on your team. He was one of the best to ever roam the midfield, and his career is one that will forever live in history.