Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was one of the most explosive strikers of the late 1990s/early 2000s. Remembered most fondly for his stint at Chelsea, where he scored 70 goals in just 136 Premier League games, Hasselbaink was also successful at major European clubs including Atletico Madrid and Leeds United, as well as scoring 9 times for the Dutch National Team.
The now 45-year-old’s career was initially unimpressive. Hasselbaink suffered from disciplinary issues and was a member of street gangs as a teenager. He was released from the youth team at DWS for stealing a first-team player’s watch, and then blew his first professional opportunity at Telstar, being dismissed for his persistent lateness to training and match days.
Hasselbaink’s first big break came in 1996 when he made the €300,000 move to Portuguese Primeira Liga side Boavista. Whilst “The Panthers” were only able to finish 7th in the 1996/97 season, they would win the Taça de Portugal and Hasselbaink would finish 2nd in the league’s top scorers with 20 goals in just 29 appearances.
It was little surprise then to see the Dutchman make the big money move to the Premier League, specifically Leeds United, the following year. Whilst Hasselbaink initially struggled with the pace of the English game – scoring just 5 league goals before Christmas – he ended this season with an impressive 26 goals in all competitions.
Under the leadership of David O’Leary, the striker continued to improve throughout the 1998/99 season, and his 18 goals were enough to earn him (alongside Michael Owen and Dwight Yorke) his first Premier League Golden Boot.
Ultimately, Leeds were never going to be able to hold onto a player of Hasselbaink’s talents, and in 1999, Atletico Madrid picked up the forward for a cool £10 million. Unfortunately, the 1999/00 season would prove disastrous for the Spanish side as they were relegated from La Liga despite reaching the Copa Del Ray final. Relegation was certainly not the fault of Hasselbaink, whose 24 goals did everything they could to keep Atleti up.
A relegation clause in his contract allowed Hasselbaink to return to the Premier League in 2000 with Chelsea. The Dutchman was soon worshipped by the Stamford Bridge faithful for his explosive power and goalscoring ability, and he impressively won his second Premier League Golden Boot in his first season for the club with 23 goals.
Hasselbaink was particularly admired for his good friendship and telepathic partnership he struck up with Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen. The duo would combine for a mighty 52 goals in all competitions during the 2001/02 season where Chelsea would reach the FA Cup final and finish 6th in the league.
As Chelsea begun to sign more exciting young strikers including Adrian Mutu (whatever happened to him?) and Hernan Crespo, Hasselbaink’s role at the club began to diminish. However, the Dutchman still managed double digit goal tallies in his final two seasons for the club before joining Middlesbrough on a free transfer in 2004.
Hasselbaink spent the last few years of his playing career in England, enjoying a fruitful last hurrah at “The Boro”, including a memorable run to the UEFA Cup final in 2006, before short spells at Charlton Athletic and Cardiff City, retiring in 2008.
By comparison to his playing career, Hasselbaink’s managerial career has proved somewhat of a failure so far. A 7th place finish in his first job at Belgian Second Division Royal Antwerp was followed by a surprise move to then League Two side Burton Albion.
Under Hasselbaink’s fitness focused managerial regime, “The Brewers” stormed to the League Two title in his first season in charge, and impressively were top of League One before the Dutchman left to join Queens Park Rangers in December 2015.
It was at QPR where Hasselbaink’s coaching career stumbled. Plagued by the loss of key striker Charlie Austin and bemoaned by the fans for his defensive football, Hasselbaink struggled to improve the struggling Championship side’s fortunes. When corruption scandals surrounding the Dutchman were released by the Telegraph in September 2016, his future at QPR seemed bleak. It was no surprise then when QPR sacked Hasselbaink in November, with the side languishing in 17th place.
🏅Former QPR & Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hasn’t lost his competitiveness…!
— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) July 19, 2017
It remains to be seen whether Hasselbaink will take a new managerial role and attempt to bounce back from his difficult spell at “The Hoops”.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s explosive pace and powerful shot made him a hit with fans across Europe. What fond memories do you have of the Dutchman? Let me know on Twitter!