Legend is certainly the most overused word in the sporting fraternity but for Teun De Nooijer, it is just another feather to his cap.
After 18 years of entertaining the hockey fans around the world, Teun De Nooijer hangs his boots from international hockey. His retirement leaves a huge void in the world of hockey which will not be easy to fill.
Hockey has produced many greats from the likes of Dhyan Chand of the early era to Jamie Dwyer of modern hockey but no player can ever come near him when compared to his list of achievements. Three time world player of the year (only Jamie Dwyer has won more), 2 Olympics Gold Medal, and 1 World Cup win are just a few points of his long list of achievements in a career spanning nearly 18 years.
Nooijer started playing hockey when he was only 9 years old, alongside his brothers. At 11, he joined up with HC Alkmaar and was selected in Netherlands under-16 team two years later. At the age of 15 he was moved to senior team of HC Alkmaar and 2 years later, De Nooijer joined HC Bloemendaal.
By the time of his debut (4th June 1994) against New Zealand, Teun De Nooijer was already a big name in Netherlands with former players and fans becoming great admirers of his talent, it just took him two years to make his mark in the international arena when he helped Netherlands win Gold medal in the Atlanta Olympics by scoring two goals in the tournament.
Nooijer was known for his brilliance on the field and was a very versatile attacker. He will be remembered not just as one of the best players of his generation but also one of the greatest to have ever played the game. Teun De Nooijer earned a world record 453 caps for Netherlands and 219 goals in his career. His frightening speed, amazing skills, spectacular passes and stunning finishing earned him admiration throughout the world and saw him named as the FIH Player of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
In the year 1998, playing his second World Cup (he finished second in 1994 WC), Teun was an instrumental piece in the Dutch squad’s gold medal win where he scored Golden Goal in the final of the tournament and helped Netherlands beat Spain 3-2. Since the famous 1996 Gold Medal win in the Olympics, Teun De Nooijer and Netherlands hockey continued to dominate world hockey for nearly a decade.
2000 was another big year for Teun. Not only did he finally win Champions Trophy after missing out in 1998 and 99, Teun De Nooijer and Netherlands also repeated their success at Olympics, taking home another gold medal from Sydney. Then in 2002 and again in 2003, the Dutch would repeat their feat of winning the Champions Trophy.
Every hockey fan expected Teun De Nooijer to win the third Gold medal in 2004 Olympics but an injury forced him out of the final against an Australia team which went on to defeat the Dutch 2-1, and denied him a chance to win the most coveted medal one more time.
Apart from Olympics and World Cup events, De Nooijer also won Gold medals at four Champions Trophy tournaments, and was a central figure in the Netherlands team that won the 1997 Euro Hockey Nations Championship. Not just for Netherlands, De Nooijer has been and continues to be the driving force of HC Bloemendaal, propelling the team to seven Dutch league titles as well as success in the Euro Hockey League in the 2008-2009 season, and being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Despite having an illustrious career, Ten De Nooijer was criticized by his current coach Paul Van Ass before he came out with the list of Olympics probables. The coach considered Teun a gifted hockey player but he was not selected due to tactical issues. Later, Paul Van Ass bowed down to public pressure and selected Teun De Nooijer in the Olympics team, and Nooijer repaid his coach’s faith by guiding the team to another silver medal.
Teun De Nooijer was recently named a Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau, a royal honour for people who have earned special merits for society.
After serving hockey for 18 years, the most versatile player of international hockey bids adieu to the sport, but the legacy he created will always live on among the hockey fans and players from around the world.
As a life long hockey fan, I would sincerely like to thank Teun De Nooijer for providing us with so many happy memories which will remind us of the great players who once graced this beautiful sport.
Here are the career highlights of Teun De Nooijer
- 1996 Olympic Games – Gold
- 1998 World Cup – Gold
- 2000 Champions Trophy – Gold
- 2000 Olympic Games – Gold
- 2002 Champions Trophy – Gold
- 2003 Champions Trophy – Gold
- 2004 Olympic Games – Silver
- 2006 Champions Trophy – Gold
- 2007 European Championship – Gold
- 2011 Euro Hockey Nations Championships – Silver
- 2012 Summer Olympics – Silver