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Explained: Why Dutch Footballers Have “van” in Their Surnames

There are so many Dutch footballers who have “van” in their surnames. A few examples are Vigil van Dijk, Donny van de Beek, Robin van Persie, Mark van Bommel etc. Why do they have “van’ in their surnames? What does it even mean? You’ll find answers to these questions in the article.

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why Dutch footballers have "van" in their surnames

Last Updated on January 3, 2022

You may have wondered why Dutch footballers have “van” in their surnames. Well, you do not need to wonder anymore because you’ll find out soon enough.

What Does “Van” Mean in the Dutch Language?

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Literally, “Van” means “of” or “from”. Usually, it is used as a prefix of the real surname. For example, in Edwin van der Saar, Edwin is the first name, Saar is actually the last name. So, why is “van” or “van der” used in Dutch surnames?

Why Dutch Footballers Have “van” in Thier Surnames

In the Dutch tradition, it is common to use “van” to denote where a particular person is from. This was necessary for identification purposes especially when two people bear the same first name.

In the above example of Edwin van der Saar, it simply means “Edwin that hails (or comes from) Saar” or Edwin of Saar.

Also, in the early ages of the Dutch, it is common practice to name a child after where he or she was born.

So, back to our example of Edwin Van Der Saar, his ancestors probably have an origin or connection with the territory of Saar in the Netherlands.

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Variations of “Van”

There are a few variations of the use “van” in dutch surnames. Although “van” can stand alone as a prefix to a surname, sometimes, more is added to it.

In some cases, some dutch footballers have “van de”, “van der”, or “van het”.

List of Top Footballers with “van” in Their Surnames

Here we compiled a list of 30 footballers (retired & active) who have “van” in their surnames.

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SNNamePosition
1Robin van PersieFW
2Donny van de BeekMID
3Vigil van DijkCB
4Giovanni van BronckhorstLB
5Mark van BommelMID
6Rafael van der VaartMID
7Marco van BastenST
8Ruud van NistelrooyST
9Marco van GinkelMID
10Edwin van Der SaarGK
11S. van HooijdonkFW
12M. van de VenCB
13M. van BergenFW
14Louis van GaalMID
15Willem van HanegemMID
16Willy van der KuijlenST
17Willy van de KerkhofMID
18Theo van DuivenbodeLB
19Patrick van AanholtLB
20Jan van BeverenGK
21Gregory van der WielRB
22René van DierenDM
23Wim van TilMID
24Frans van RooyFW
25Hans van BreukelenGK
26Adri van TiggelenLB
27Jan van BeverenGK
28Cor van der HartCB
29Daniel van BuytenCB
30John van ‘t SchipFW

Further Reading:

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