When the Netherlands national football team took second place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, it wasn't the first time that the vibrant orange and blue colors of the Netherlands soccer jersey had been associated with the runner-up position. On the contrary, with three second place finishes, the Holland football team holds the dubious record of having appeared in the most World Cup championship matches without actually winning any of them.
This year, however, fans have hopes that the Holland 2014 FIFA World Cup home jersey will be associated with a different honor: the top place on the podium and the right to hoist the iconic World Cup trophy toward the skies. In celebration of that hope, Soccer Box is selling a variety of Netherlands gear, including the team's orange home jerseys, its blue away kits, and other items like jackets and tracksuits.
A History of Close Calls
While Holland's honor of being the World Cup's most consistent runner-up is certainly a sign that the team has long maintained a quality football tradition, it isn't the reputation the team and its fans want anymore.
On the contrary, Netherlands supporters are ready to see their team break the curse that began all the way back in 1974. Prior to that particular World Cup, which was held in West Germany, the Netherlands had not been much of a presence in international football. In fact, the team had previously only played in two World Cup tournaments (in 1934 and 1938), and otherwise had either not qualified for the event or not entered for qualification at all.
All of this made it that much more surprising when the Netherlands soccer jersey started to ignite championship speculation in Germany. The Holland team played like seasoned pros rather than World Cup novices, defeating heavyweight teams like Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil en route to the final, only to lose in a 1-2 match against the host team from West Germany.
The loss was disappointing, but it took numerous other close World Cup defeats to turn the Holland 2014 FIFA World Cup home jersey into a perennial symbol of second place chances. The second of those defeats came in the 1978 World Cup, where the Netherlands team returned determined to make good on the promise it had shown four years earlier.
Things got off to a rocky start at the 1978 World Cup, with the Netherlands losing one match in the first round and drawing another. In the early days of the tournament, Holland claimed only one victory, and the team only narrowly earned the right to advance to the next group.
In the second group round, however, the Holland players began to show why the Netherlands soccer jersey was a symbol of resilience and ferocity. In a rematch with West Germany, the Netherlands held the defending champions to a draw, effectively ending the chances of Germany playing in another final or even contending for third place.
The Netherlands also defeated a highly ranked Italian team in the second round, winning the group and earning another chance at the World Cup title. In the championship game, The Netherlands again came up against the home team (this time Argentina) and again losing. The match was so close that it went into extra time, but ultimately, Holland's players again returned home as runners-up.
Third Time's the Charm?
In 2010, the Holland team again contended for the football World Cup title, and again went home with runner-up status. Finally, the team didn't lose to the host country (the tournament was held in South Africa and Spain took the title), a fact that broke the dÃ©jÃ vu feeling that had existed in 1978.
Still, an extra time 0-1 loss against Spain in the championship football match brought the Netherlands as close as it had ever been to World Cup victory. Now, with yet another World Cup on the horizon, fans and players alike are donning the Holland 2014 FIFA World Cup home jersey in hopes that "close," "second place," and "runner-up" need not be terms in their lexicon anymore.
Do you think that Holland has a chance at the World Cup title this year? Do you think the team will finally go all the way to the top after so many years of close calls? If so, head to Soccer Box today and pick up a Netherlands soccer jersey to cheer on the Dutch team. Y