Pieters Graafland – Eddy PG for short – is generally considered to be one of the best keepers in the history of the Dutch game. He played for Ajax from 1951 to 1958 before moving to Feyenoord, where he won four Dutch championships, two KNVB Cups and, in his last official appearance, the European Cup. He also earned 47 caps for the national team.
Pieters Graafland found it hard to pick out a single highlight from his career. ‘Basically, that was everything from 1958, when I moved to Feyenoord,’ he once said. ‘From that moment my career took off and I only experienced highlights. The championships, the Dutch national team, footballer of the year in 1967, my knighthood and, as icing on the cake of course, the European Cup final against Celtic.’
Pieters Graafland stood between the posts on 6 May 1970 rather than Eddy Treijtel. Eddy PG captained Feyenoord in the 1968-1969 season, but head coach Ernst Happel put his faith in Treijtel the season after. When Happel told Pieters Graafland he wanted to drop Treijtel and asked whether he could count on him for the final, Pieters Graafland said he needed some time to think it over.
Tower of strength
After some thought, Pieters Graafland decided to accept the offer and went on to help Feyenoord win the biggest prize in the European club game. ‘Of course, it was a milestone,’ the keeper recently said in an interview for Feyenoord.nl. ‘Not only in my own life, but also in the history of the club. When I read my own reports from that time now, I realise that I have experienced things in my football life that were top-drawer, whether with Feyenoord or with Oranje.’
While the final was his last-ever game, he returned to De Kuip often. As well as a gifted keeper and a good cameraman who recorded lots of his experiences during his professional career on film, Pieters Graafland was always a very welcome attendee at get-togethers of former Feyenoord players. Looking back on a glorious career a few weeks ago he said: ‘I loved being the tower of strength in a team, proving myself.’
Feyenoord’s thoughts are with all those who Eddy Pieters Graafland leaves behind. Fans who wish to express their sympathy can post a message here.