It has been said many times that it is better to start a trend rather than follow.
Little did we know , quite what a trend this player would go about in a small way of setting.
Before we had Van Bronkhorst, before Arthur Numan, Mols and his turns, Bert Konterman with his Hampden rockets and Fernando Ricksen flying into tackles and setting off fireworks, even before seeing the De Boars we had the one who set that path, the original flying Dutchman Pieter Huistra.
Huistra arrived in Scotland from FC Twente in the summer of 1990. A fee around £300,000 was secured for the winger’s services , in large part due to Twentes reluctance to sell him to a fellow Dutch side. In the days of the pre bosman ruling , player power was nowhere near what it is today and players had little choice or say on what offers were accepted.
That summer had seen a heat wave hit the U.K. , Wimpy was still the only place to eat , and Back to the future part 3 was captivating us all in cinemas.
Football itself was quickly becoming fashionable again, setting about losing the reputation it had gained in the 80s , in no small way down to that summers World Cup in Italy , and a charismatic genius called Paul Gascoigne.
Huistra arrived in what proved to Graeme Souness’s last season , in what was a fairly modest summer , by 90s standards in Rangers transfer terms. Arriving in August after the capture of Mark Hateley , then followed in September by fans favourite and hard man Terry Hurlock , and classy centre half Oleg Kuznetsov , who had finished 17th in the Ballon d’or the previous year.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
Huistra would start to show his worth from the very beginning of the double winning season , scoring his first goal in a 3-1 victory away to Hearts , three league games in. However it was for his creative play down the wing that he was bought in for , and he did not disappoint, playing a total of 36 times and netting 5 goals as league title was secured for a 3rd successive season.
The following season saw Dutchman cement his place as a fan favourite as the league title was secured with ease playing 42 times and again netting 5 goals. Despite more than playing his part in another double winning season, the end of 91/92 would provide the left sided winger with his biggest disappointments of his career so far , missing out on both the Scottish cup final victory over Airdrie, and then the Dutch squad for the European championships in Sweden , despite making the initial 25 man squad.
The Dutchman did not sit about feeling sorry for himself , or demanding a transfer as so many modern day players would do today. Instead channelling it into something positive helping the gers have there most memorable season in my lifetime , helping secure the domestic treble and coming within 90 minutes of being in the first champions league final. Huistra played a very impressive 42 times netting 7 times , this despite the 3 foreigner rule being in place for European ties restricting his playing opportunities.
Huistras 4th season at Rangers saw his playing time drop slightly , only playing in 26 games in all competitions as the gers narrowly missed out on back to back trebles.
1994/95 would prove to be the Dutchman final season for the club, before his rather strange move at the time i do recall , to Hiroshima in the J-league. Huistra would play a total of 15 games that campaign, with his most memorable coming during his final match scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Falkirk at Brockville. The winger singed off in style collecting a total of five league medals, two league cups and a single Scottish cup in his time at the club.
I don’t think any Rangers fan at the time was aware of the path Huistra was laying for his fellow countrymen in the years to follow , we may never know the true impact this had in the years to come but he was a joy to watch and a rare breed to boot, a Dutchman without a ego.