10 things you need to know about FC Utrecht

FC Utrecht's Stadion Galgenwaard
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FC Utrecht's Stadion Galgenwaard .

Ipswich Town play FC Utrecht tomorrow in their final pre-season friendly before the start of the Championship season. Here’s a rundown of 10 things you need to know about the Dutch club.

Dirk Kuyt, left, started out with Utrecht. PA

Dirk Kuyt, left, started out with Utrecht. PA - Credit: AP

1 - The current team came into being in 1970 when three clubs in the city merged, with VV Dos, USV Elinkwijk and Velox coming together to form FC Utrecht.

2 - Since then, the club has won three Dutch Cups in 1985, 2003 and 2004, and are the only side outside the big three (Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV) to have ever won the Dutch Super Cup.

3 - Utrecht have spent their entire existence playing in the Dutch top division, the Eredivisie, with a highest position of third in the 1980/81 season. Outside of powerhouses Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV, they are the only team never to have been relegated from the top flight.

4 - When the club’s stadium, currently known as Stadion Galgenwaard, was renovated in the early 80s it was held up as a prime example for future stadiums by both UEFA and FIFA and was one of the first ‘modern’ arenas in Europe. There was no perimeter fencing, a moat separating fans from the pitch and the club’s offices were all housed within the stadium. It was highly commended in the Taylor Report, actioned after the Hillborough disaster in 1989, as an example of future stadium design.

Marco van Basten, left, was born in Utrecht. PA

Marco van Basten, left, was born in Utrecht. PA - Credit: AP

5 - Utrecht was the final stop Dick Advocaat during a solid but uneventful playing career, before turning his hand to coaching and management in the mid 80s. It proved a good second career, as Advocaat managed the likes of Rangers, PSV, Monchengladbach and Zenit; winning a string of league titles in various countries. He is also well-travelled on the international scene, having bossed UAE, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and Serbia as well as enjoying three spells with the Netherlands. He was last seen at Sunderland.

6 - The city of Utrecht was the birthplace of legendary Dutch forward Marco van Basten, who grew up there and played for one of the former founding clubs of FC Utrecht (USV Elinkwijk) before moving to Ajax and beginning his ascendancy to stardom.

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7 - Former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt is perhaps the club’s best known former player, having started his professional career with Utrecht. He scored 51 goals in 160 games before moving on to Feyenoord in 2003 to replace Pierre van Hooijdonk.

8 - FC Utrecht have previously been led by two managers with connections to Premier League side Southampton. Erwin Koeman, brother and assistant of current Saints manager Ronald, managed the club for three months before quitting in 2011, while Mark Wotte was in charge at St Mary’s when they were relegated to League One in 2009.

Utrecht in the Netherlands

Utrecht in the Netherlands - Credit: Archant

9 - The club has two players with experience of English football in their current squad. Nacer Barazite started out at Arsenal and also played for Derby before returning to his homeland via Austria and France. Kristoffer Peterson was a youngster and Liverpool and also spent a loan spell with Tranmere before making the move to Utrecht.

10 - Utrecht have retired their number four shirt in memory of a former player who died, aged just 26, in 2005. Defender David Di Tommasso died of a heart attack in his sleep in November that year, with 14,000 people turning out for a supporters meeting in his honour. His shirt number was retired and the club’s player of the year award named in his honour.

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