‘Golden rooster’ Rep is 70 years old: an ode to the blond angel

On November 25, 1951, the Dutch national team played a historic international match against Belgium. Abe Lenstra made a hat-trick in that exhibition game in De Kuip, but so did Liège resident Pol Anoul. The match ended 6-7.

In retrospect, it turns out to be just a side note in national football history. Much more important was what took place that day at the Symon Claeszstraat in Zaandam: the birth of Nicolaas Rep, better known as Johnny Rep.

Goudhaantje for whom Ajax and Orange have a warm heart. Elusively good, with an unparalleled nose for the decisive goal. And a casual look that left no one indifferent.

French admirers still swoon over their Blonde Angel, even though the mane has now turned gray.

As a footballer, his legacy is immeasurable. He was part of the golden Ajax of Johan Cruijff and Piet Keizer, played a leading role in two of the three won European Cup I finals and personally gave the team from Amsterdam the World Cup with two goals.

World Cup top scorer Orange

Rep is still the all-time top scorer of Orange at the World Cup. He found the net seven times, spread over the final rounds of 1974 and 1978. Unfortunately, in the finals against West Germany and Argentina, Rep ran out of luck.

The world title was out of reach. And Rep? Well, he shrugged nonchalantly, brushed the blond locks from his face and continued.

In the summer of 1975 – a year too late, because with the departure of Cruijff and Johan Neeskens, the golden Ajax was also finished – Rep closed the door of De Meer behind him.

In his first game for Valencia, he gave his compatriots close quarters. Cruijff and Neeskens both scored that afternoon, but that was not enough for the win. Valencia won 3-2, Rep made two.

The following season, Rep acted in the shadow of the Argentine top scorer Mario Kempes, who would prove to be the great teaser in the World Cup final a year later, and left for Bastia in the meantime. In Corsica he enjoyed life briefly but with abandon and he even made it to the final of the UEFA Cup, but PSV proved too strong.

Incense in France

It was only at Saint-Étienne that he was really incensed. In 2004 the French folk rock group Mickey 3D scored another hit in 2004 with the single ‘Johnny Rep.’

In a team that included Patrick Battiston, Jacques Santini and Michel Platini, he became champion of France in 1981, but when the French tax authorities turned out to be on his heels, Rep did not know how quickly he had to get away.

The ambitious chairman Marten Eibrink brought the 31-year-old Rep to PEC Zwolle, but it was not a great success. And you could also say the same about his time at Feyenoord, his great love ZFC and trainer jobs at De Zwarte Schapen, Omniworld and FC Texel.

That’s why, on his 70th birthday, we prefer to think of his headers against Argentina, Uruguay and Juventus, his dribble against Independiente, his streak against Scotland. And his casual blond locks.

Frank Heinen was inspired for the End Signal section by the only known poem written by Johnny Rep.

‘I was out on my wedding night.

While she lay there I was out and about.

There I sat at the bar.

With my glass full of apple juice.’

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