I’ve decided to single out Giovanni Van Bronckhorst as it’s difficult not to admire what he’s achieved since leaving Rangers. Not only as a player but more recently as a manager.
Gio joined Rangers in the summer of ’98 from Feyenoord for a fee of just over £5 million and was signed by fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat. A player comfortable playing in midfield or left-back, he was already an established international. Gio went on to win two league titles, two Scottish Cups, and a league cup in his relatively short time at Rangers.
After leaving the Gers in 2001 he signed for Arsenal for a fee of £8.5 million. Shortly after joining the Gunners he suffered a bad knee ligament injury which resulted in a lengthy layoff. He still managed to play his part that year, which resulted in Arsenal lifting the Premier League trophy, and the FA Cup followed the next season. He accumulated over 60 appearances, scoring on two occasions before moving to Barcelona on loan in 2003.
The boss of Barca at that time was another fellow Dutchman Frank Rijkaard. Gio was moved into the left back position. After the loan period finished he concluded his move to the Catalan giants for a small sum of 2 million euros, where he signed a three-year deal. The season of 2004-2005 was one of his most successful times as a player in which he won La Liga and retained the title the following year, the Spanish powerhouse also claimed the Champions League in the 2005-2006 season as well as the Supercopa de España. With a year remaining on his contract, he triggered a clause in the contract saying he could return to Feyenoord for a free transfer. So, in the summer of 2007, he returned to his boyhood club.
Giovanni started the league campaign as club captain for the Rotterdam club and helped them secure the KNVB Cup in 2008. Also coupled with a very honourable international career in which he captained the Dutch squad to a world cup final in 2010 which they, unfortunately, lost to Spain. The Dutchman retired at the end of the domestic season of 2010 and joined the coaching staff at Feyenoord as assistant to Ronald Koeman.
In 2015 Gio was announced as the replacement manager of the Rotterdam club when Fred Rutten was due to stand down at the end of the season. The first year in charge saw him defeating FC Utrecht 2-1 in the final of the KNVB Cup and the second season saw the club win the Eredivisie after a long 18-year absence. A remarkable achievement for someone so new to his managerial experience.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst had a truly fantastic career as a player and it looks sure to continue into his career as a manager.