Who is Clarence Seedorf - The Midfield Master
Who is Clarence Seedorf
Clarence Seedorf is a Dutch footballer, widely considered as one of the best midfielders of his generation. He has played for Ajax, Sampdoria, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan, and is considered one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history with 4 wins across 3 teams. He retired from an outstanding career in 2014, after a final stint with Brazilian club Botafogo.
Clarence Seedorf was born in April of 1976, to parents Dulce and Johann Seedorf. One of three sons, Seedorf was born in Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname. At two years old, however, his family relocated to Almere, Flevoland. A polyglot, he speaks 6 languages fluently: Dutch, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Surinamese.
Growing up in a footballing family – with his father being an ex-footballer and talent agent, and both his younger brothers, Jürgen and Chedric Seedorf, playing the sport – Clarence was destined for success from an early age. He began his career at just 6, joining the youth ranks of his local amateur sides VV AS ’80 and Real Almere, before being recruited to play for Dutch giants, Ajax. He spent the next few years training at the Ajax Youth Academy.
An Impressive Career
In 1992, at just 16 years old, Seedorf made his professional debut as the team’s right midfielder against Groningen. He was the youngest ever debutant for Ajax, at that time, but impressively, he quickly established himself as the first choice right midfielder on the team.
In 1993/93, his second season with the club, Seedorf was key in helping the team win a treble, securing the Eredivisie title, the KNVB Cup and Dutch Super Cup all in the same year.
The next season followed the same upward trajectory, with the team securing consecutive Super Cup and Eredivisie titles, as well as their 4th European Cup trophy after their 1994/95 UEFA Champions League win.
Despite his immense success with the team, Seedorf opted not to extend his contract with Ajax. Following the Bosman ruling of 1995, which allowed the freedom of movement for workers in the European Union, instead choosing to sign a one-year contract with the successful Italian Serie A team, Sampdoria. Seedorf appeared in 32 matches during his time with the team, scoring 3 goals and securing an 8th place finish in the league table. He remained on top form throughout, earning him a transfer to Real Madrid and a move to the Spanish La Liga by the end of the season.
Thus, in 1996, Seedorf moved to Real Madrid where he routinely played for Los Blancos during his first three seasons. True to form, his impact on the team’s success was magnanimous: he helped the team regain their La Liga title, played a major role in their Champions League success, and earned the second Champions League title of his career. However, from the summer of 1999, Seedorf’s role on the team became less prominent, under Dutch manager Guus Hiddink.
It was also around 1996 that Seedorf played in the Dutch squad for the UEFA European Championships – also appearing for the Netherlands at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2000 & 2004. He reached the semi-finals in all three of these tournaments.
In December of 1999, after 3 years playing in Real Madrid’s midfield, Seedorf transferred to Italy’s Inter Milan in a deal worth nearly $25 million. Despite helping the team to the Coppa Italia final, Seedorf could not help score any major awards. Nonetheless, he is remembered fondly by many Inter Milan fans for his two impressive long-range goals against Juventus in a 2-2 draw in March of 2002.
2 years after joining the team, Seedorf transferred to their rivals, A.C. Milan. Together, they secured the Coppa Italia in 2003 – their first victory in 26 competing in the competition. That same season, Seedorf went on to win his third Champions League medal – making him the first player to win the Champions League title with three different clubs. The following season, he won the fourth national league title of his career in the Serie A league.
Seedorf continued to play a major role in the team’s success, helping them to reach the Champions League final again in 2005, where he appeared in all 13 matches and scored the only game in their opening group match. In 2007, Seedorf was part of the Milan squad that won the FIFA Club World Cup – another trophy of which he was the first player to win with three different clubs. His impressive performance netted him the Silver Ball for the competition.
At the end of the 2006/07 season, he was voted the best midfielder of the Champions League. He became the foreigner with the most appearances for A.C. Milan, after competing in a game against his former team, Sampdoria. The game also saw him become the 9th highest scoring foreigner for Milan, with 58 goals. But this was not necessarily always a source of positivity for the player. In 2010, he was the target of racist chants from Lazio fans, drawing the Rome-based club a €15,000 fine by the Italian Football Federation.
In the 2010/11 season, Seedorf scored 4 goals over 36 appearances, playing a vital role in the Serie A and winning his second Scudetto with Milan. He added yet another medal to his extensive trophy cabinet after a 2-1 comeback win over rivals, Inter Milan, in the 2011/12 Supercoppa Italiana. It is no surprise that, in 2012, Seedorf was ranked 7th out of 20 players named the best in the Champions League. After 10 years with A.C. Milan, Seedorf announced his intent to leave the club: “I am leaving after 10 wonderful years… I leave my family.” Club CEO Adriano Galliani spoke of the ex-teammate with pride after his departure, stating: “When Milan played well, which happened often, each and every time it occurred, Seedorf played an amazing match. He is a world class player.”
In 2012, Seedorf signed a 2-year contract with the Brazilian club Botafogo, making his debut a month later against Grêmio. In 2013, during his first game as a starter, Seedorf scored his first-ever hat-trick against Macaé. Later that year, he won his first title with Botafogo: the 2013 Taca Guanabara, the first round of 2013 Campeonato Carioca. This was followed by a win in the second round, Taca Rio, as well. In 2014, after deciding to pursue a manager position at Milan, Seedorf announced his retirement from a long and successful career in football.
Appearances: 89 / Goals: 11 / Assists: 2
Champions League Winner
Dutch Cup Winner
2x Dutch Champion
Appearances: 34 / Goals: 4 / Assists: -
Appearances: 159 / Goals: 62 / Assists: 73
2x Champions League Winner
Intercontinental Cup Winner
Spanish Super Cup Winner
Appearances: 93 / Goals: 14 / Assists: 11
Appearances: 432 / Goals: 62 / Assists: 73
2x Champions League Winner
FIFA Club World Cup Winner
Champions League runner-up
2x Italian Champion
2x UEFA Super Cup Winner
Appearances: 59 / Goals: 17 / Assists: 14
2x Dutch Football Talent of the Year
ESM Team of the Year
2x UEFA Team of the Year
UEFA Best Midfielder Award
FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball
FIFPro World XI
Real Madrid Team of the Century
A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
Golden Foot Award Legends
During his 2002/03 season with A.C. Milan, Seedorf formed a formidable midfield trio with Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. Their partnership was so effective that it was used in the starting line-up all the way until the 2011/12 season, even when their form was in decline. The role was to support any attacking midfielders on the team.
Once again showcasing his impressive teamwork skills, Seedorf’s role as foil to midfielder Kaká became increasingly strong as the pair combined their styles to score and supply the goals which would propel Milan past Bayern Munich and Manchester to another Champions League final.
During his time at Ajax, Seedorf became part of a trio known as “De Kabel”, made up of Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and himself – this trio would later expand into a quintet, when Winston Bogarde and Michael Reiziger were added to the group.
Where is he now?
Seedorf was appointed the new head coach of Milan in 2014, after terminating his contract with Botafogo. Despite pushing the club to their first five-match win streak since 2011, he was dismissed after just 4 months on the job.
In 2016, he was appointed manager of China League One team Shenzhen F.C., but again, he was replaced just 5 months later. A year later, he joined Brazilian club Atlético Paranaense as both a coach and a sporting director, but within a month, the deal was cancelled after both parties failed to reach an agreement.
In February of 2018, Seedorf became manager of the Spanish club, Deportivo de La Coruña for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. However, after a disappointing season with just 2 wins over 16 matches, the team were relegated from La Liga, and Seedorf left the club.
He was then appointed as the manager of the Cameroon national team in August 2018, with former teammate Patrick Kluivert as his assistant manager. But a disappointing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations saw Cameroon lose to Nigeria, and Seedorf was sacked in July of 2019.