Rinus Israel: ‘Pieters Graafland had all the qualities a goalkeeper needs’ | Right away

Rinus Israel was shocked to learn of the death of his former team-mate Eddy Pieters Graafland, 86, on Wednesday. The former defender played for Feyenoord for years with the legendary former goalkeeper and will continue to remember him as a reliable and idiosyncratic man.

“He was a nice guy who really took something from you,” the 78-year-old Israeli said in an interview with NU.nl on Wednesday. “If he gave his word, you could count on him. I saw him not so long ago and then he seemed to be physically fine, so I really didn’t see how his passing came.”

Pieters Graafland began his career at Ajax in 1950 and eight years later became the first player ever to move to arch-rival Feyenoord, where he also celebrated the greatest successes of his career. Israel left the DWS for Feyenoord in 1966 and played with “Eddy PG” until 1970, as the former goalkeeper’s nickname says.

“He was a man with his own opinion who didn’t go with the flock,” Israel recalls. “And Eddy was above all a great goalkeeper. For me, he is certainly one of the best three Dutch goalkeepers of all time. He had all the qualities a goalkeeper needs.”

“Eddy was good in one-on-one and reliable forward. As a player you knew there was a goalkeeper under the bar to rely on. He just didn’t have an athletic body like Jan van Beveren, for example, but the players had respect for him.”

Photos from the career of Eddy Pieters Graafland

“European Cup I-Final very nice end”

With four league titles and two KNVB cups, Pieters Graafland’s time at Feyenoord was already very successful, but the highlight was only in the very last game of his career: the European Cup I final against Celtic (2:1) in Milan.

Former Feyenoord coach Ernst Happel had preferred Eddy Treijtel as the first goalkeeper this season, but he asked Pieters Graafland if he wanted to make the finals. After a long time, the 47-times international decided to reach an agreement.

“It wasn’t a good thing,” Israel recalls. “Most goalkeepers don’t need any time to think about when asked to reach a European final. They happen immediately, but Eddy wanted to sleep one night later.”

“That also drew a bit of his character. It bothered him that he hadn’t played all season. A day later, he agreed. This final was a very nice end to a career of a great, reliable goalkeeper.”