Feature

Jan van Beveren, 1948–2011

The Dutch soccer star who became a devoted coach in Texas

During his many years as the sharp-minded goalkeeper on the Dutch national soccer team, Jan van Beveren was notoriously bad at remembering people’s names. That changed, his wife, Toosje, recalled, once he started coaching soccer in Beaumont, Texas, where he never forgot a pupil’s name. “That told me that he loved it,” she said.

Born in Amsterdam in 1948, van Beveren began his professional career as a soccer player in 1965. In 1970, he transferred to PSV Eindhoven, Holland’s most prestigious club, and helped it win three league titles in the course of a decade. The 6-foot-2-inch van Beveren was considered a “shot stopper of the old school,” said The New York Times, and could defend against almost any penalty kick.

Yet van Beveren never played in a World Cup, said Dutch newspaper Omroep Brabant. Injured in 1974, he withdrew from contention in 1978 after falling out with Johan Cruyff, the mercurial player-manager who led Holland to the World Cup final match that year. The two men later reconciled, and Cruyff mourned van Beveren as “one of the best goalkeepers we’ve ever had.”

Van Beveren ended his pro soccer career playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and the Dallas Sidekicks in the early 1980s, said the Beaumont Enterprise. He spent his final years teaching at the Spindletop Select Soccer Club in Beaumont. There van Beveren never acted like a former superstar, said Spindletop president Kelly Krouter. “We just knew the nice, compassionate, down-to-earth guy who loved soccer and loved teaching kids.”

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