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Sparta Rotterdam
Sparta Rotterdam logo.svg
Full name Sparta Rotterdam
Nickname(s) De Kasteelheren
(The Castle Lords)
De Rood-Witte Gladiatoren (The Red-White Gladiators)
Founded 1 April 1888; 136 years ago (1888-04-01)
Ground Sparta Stadion
Ground Capacity 11,026
Chairman Leo Ruijs
Head Coach Jeroen Rijsdijk
League Eredivisie
2022–23 Eredivisie, 6th of 18

Sparta Rotterdam (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈspɑrtaː ˌrɔtərˈdɑm]) is a Dutch professional football club based in Rotterdam. Established on 1 April 1888, Sparta Rotterdam is the oldest professional football team in the Netherlands.

Sparta currently competes in the Eredivisie, the top flight of Dutch professional football, which they have won six times, having earned promotion from the Eerste Divisie in 2018–19. The club is one of three professional football clubs from Rotterdam, the others being Excelsior (est. 1902) and Feyenoord (est. 1908).



Sparta Rotterdam vs Blackpool F.C., August of 1957

On the Easter Sunday of 1 April 1888, eight students from Rotterdam founded a cricket club called Rotterdamsche Cricket & Football Club Sparta. It was established in the garden of the house of the first treasurer, Hartevelt Hoos Oostvestple, a building located on the 11 in Rotterdam. The club was founded by eight students between the ages of 13 and 16. Five of them were students of the then HBS at the Van Alkemadeplein, and the remaining three were students of the Gymnasium Erasmianum on the Coolvest, the name of the Coolsingel before it changed in 1888. All the founders came from wealthy families in Rotterdam, because at the time, it was only the high and middle classes who had the time and money to practice sports, such as cricket. All the founders, along with the other early members of Sparta, lived in the Stadsdriehoek, Cool, Rubroek or Crooswijk neighborhoods of Rotterdam, which had become a fast-growing port city of the Netherlands in the second half of the 19th century.

Sparta initially started as a cricket club, with the Dutch newspaper NRC of May 1888 already reporting a victory for Sparta over Achilles by 45 runs. However, when the boys were given a suitable ball, they also engaged in the sport of football, which had recently come over from the United Kingdom. The young Sparta members began playing this sport in the terrain that was located on the Noordereiland, west of the Burgmeester Hoffmanplein, and in July 1888, a football branch of the club was thus established. In the Netherlands, it was Sparta who introduced the goal with a crossbar and nets. Before them, only a rope was stretched between the posts.

First Matches

The members of Sparta only played matches against each other in the first year. These matches were played in various compositions between the 35-hour lesson week and the subsequent 20-hour working week at the Delftse Poort, usually on the square in front of the church of the Grote or Sint-Laurenskerk.

In 1888 there was not yet an umbrella organization for football, so there were no organized competitions. Therefore, the clubs had to invite or challenge each other, which resulted in a lot of mutual challenges between the existing clubs. The first football challenge that Sparta received dates back to 28 December 1888, more than 38 weeks after the foundation date, but the game, scheduled for 30 December 1888, was not played due to the unplayability of the opponent's field. From April 1889, the training and matches began to take place on a site designated by the alderman to the west of De Heuvel in Rotterdam. In the same period, the club also got its first clubhouse on the Delfshavensedijk.

Federal Football

In March 1890, Sparta joined the Dutch Football and Athletics Association (Nederlandse Atletiek en Voetbal Bond, NVAB), founded by Pim Mulier on 8 December 1889, the predecessor of today's KNVB, and they played their first real match later that year. In 1892 Sparta disbanded the cricket branch. On 18 December 1892, Sparta defeated the Amersfoortsche FC (AFC Quick 1890) with what still is a record result for a Dutch league match: 17–0. The right winger Freek Kampschreur scored 9 of the 17 goals and is still the shared record holder for the most goals in a single Dutch league match. The next home match against Go Ahead [nl] from Wageningen is an important one as both teams have a shot at winning the 2nd division championship, and thus it attracted 1500 spectators. Sparta lost 2–4, which still is their only loss in the 2nd division, but then won the away game (0–2) in February, thus finishing the season with the same amount of points, and since there were no tie-breakers at the time, both teams were promoted to the highest league of Dutch football on 23 April 1893.

Earlier that same year, on 18 March 1893, Sparta was the first Dutch club to play a match against a foreign opponent, Harwich & Parkeston F.C. of England, whose football was much more developed, and they showed their clear superiority with a resounding 8–0 victory. When another match against an English team, Felixstowe FC, was scheduled for 5 February 1894, the NVAB, in order to avert another humiliation to Sparta, forced them to field a team that included a few non-Spartan players, and the plan worked as the game ended in a 1–1 draw. On the following day, 6 February, Felixstowe FC played another match, this time against a Dutch squad with the best players of the Netherlands, which fielded only two players from Sparta, Weinthal and Freek Kampschreur. They did no better than the Sparta squad as they lost 0–1, but this game is now considered to be the first unofficial match of the Netherlands national team.

In August 1893, Sparta debuted a new field on the Binnenweg which had a real fence and some seats. The players could even dress up and wash in a nearby house, but because it was continuously flooded, Sparta received permission from the municipality to move to the Schuttersveld in Crooswijk. There, they remained undefeated from January 1894 until the end of the season as they finished in fourth. Sparta then founded the Rotterdam Football Association in 1894.


Sparta introduced women's football in late 1896 by trying to organize a competition between a women's team from Sparta and the English Ladies Football Club from London. However, no permission for this match was given by the Dutch Football Association, which forbids it from happening.

Sparta also showed itself to be an innovator in other areas during this period. Over the years, Sparta introduced in the Netherlands, among other things: the header, a goal with a crossbar and nets, and brightly colored shirts. That red and white outfit was copied in 1899 during a visit by the Sparta board to Sunderland in England. Apart from being an innovator, Sparta was also known as a club that was sometimes difficult to deal with. For instance, in March of 1897, Sparta temporarily withdrew from the Dutch league because of the alleged continuous dubious arbitration of Sparta matches, but especially due to turmoil at a match in Amsterdam against the apparently rather arrogant RAP, in which the referee did not act against the verbal abuse of the RAP players. Sparta's remaining two matches were awarded to their opponents (5–0) and the club was fined 10 Dutch coins, but despite this, it still finished fourth.

In 1899 the board of Sparta visited a match of Sunderland. Impressed with the red-and-white jersey of the English club, the board decided that Sunderland's colours (red-white striped jersey, black shorts) would henceforth be the colours of Sparta. The first Sparta shirts were purchased second-hand Sunderland shirts. Today, the signature red and white shirt is combined with black trousers and red and white striped stockings.

First golden age

From 1900 Sparta played a pioneering role in the organization of Dutch football because, at the time, the board of the Dutch Football Association consisted largely of Spartans, and in 1901, Sparta began to organize competitions for the Zilveren Bal, the most important cup tournament at the time.

In 1905, Sparta initiated and organized the first home match of the Netherlands national team, against Belgium. The match, won 4–0 by the Netherlands, was a rematch of a game two weeks prior, when the Netherlands beat Belgium 4–1 in Antwerp, Belgium. The match took place in what had been the Sparta stadium for about ten years at the time, the Schuttersveld in Crooswijk, and the Dutch squad was coached by former Sparta player Cees van Hasselt.

From 1893 onwards, the football players of Sparta built up a reputation as "the eternal number 2" because, in its first fifteen years in the top division of Dutch football, Sparta reached second or third place six times. This changed in 1909, as Sparta won the national championship in that year as well as in 1911, 1912, 1913, and 1915; while the Silver Ball was won in 1910 and 1913, and the NBLO Cup in 1909, 1910, and 1911. During this period, Sparta hired a coach for the first time, the Englishman Edgar Chadwick, which undoubtedly contributed to the success. Star players Bok de Korver, Huug de Groot, and Cas Ruffelse also played a pivotal role in helping Sparta dominate the nation during these years.

On 15 October 1916, Sparta moved for the last time, this time to Sparta's new stadium, Het Kasteel (The Castle), in the Spangen area of west Rotterdam. The move was largely privately funded by a group of 27 residents of Rotterdam. Following the English example, the Sparta stadium became the center of the later-built residential area and was soon known as Het Kasteel because of its facade with two turrets. The stadium was renovated in 1999 and is still Sparta's stadium.

In 1918, Prince Hendrik was the first member of the Royal House to pay an official visit to a Sparta match. In the years that followed, Queen Wilhelmina, Princess Juliana, and Prince Bernhard also visited the stadium, among other things to attend the annual Blood Transfusion Competition, a charity initiative that earned Sparta a high award from the Dutch Red Cross on its golden jubilee.

Recent years

Until the 2002–03 season, Sparta had always played at the highest level, but after they appointed the former international player Frank Rijkaard as a manager they were relegated from the top-level Eredivisie in 2002. That made Rijkaard resign from his position. Sparta returned to the Eredivisie for the 2005–06 season. They were relegated again in 2010. On 20 August 2010, they equalled Ajax's and Heracles Almelo's Dutch league record win when they defeated Almere City 12–1 with Johan Voskamp scoring an Eerste Divisie record 8 goals on his debut.

After six years in the Eerste Divisie, Sparta again won promotion to the Eredivisie in April 2016 after a 3–1 win over Jong Ajax won them an unassailable lead over second placed VVV-Venlo. However, they were relegated for the third time in their history in May 2018 after they were beaten 1–3 on aggregate by FC Emmen in the promotion/relegation play-offs. The result proved to be a historical one since Emmen won their first ever promotion to the Eredivisie.

Sparta has won six national titles (1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915 and 1959) and three national cups (1958, 1962 and 1966).

Meuse/Scheldt Cup

The best footballers of Rotterdam and Antwerp contested a yearly match between 1909 and 1959 for the Meuse- and Scheldt Cup (Maas- en Schelde Beker). It was agreed to play the game at stadium Het Kasteel in Rotterdam and at the Bosuilstadion in Antwerp. The cup was provided in 1909 by Kees van Hasselt from Rotterdam and P. Havenith from Antwerp.

Youth program

The Sparta Jeugdopleiding (English: Sparta Youth Academy) is a four-star certified youth academy and amongst the strongest in the nation, having won the national academy of the year award on several occasions. Several International footballers have progressed through the ranks of the academy, including Danny Blind, Danny Koevermans, David Mendes da Silva, Ed de Goey, Winston Bogarde, Memphis Depay, Henk Fräser, Jan van Beveren, Georginio Wijnaldum, Anwar El Ghazi, Jetro Willems, John de Wolf, Kevin Strootman, Rick van Drongelen and Nick Viergever, Marten de Roon amongst others.



  • Netherlands Football League Championship / Eredivisie: 6
    • 1908–09, 1910–11, 1911–12, 1912–13, 1914–15, 1958–59
  • Eerste Divisie: 1
    • 2015–16
  • KNVB Cup: 3
    • 1957–58, 1961–62, 1965–66


  • Rotterdam Easter Tournament
    • Runners-up (2): 1934, 1948

Domestic results

Eredivisie Eerste Divisie Eredivisie Eerste Divisie Eredivisie Eerste Divisie Eredivisie
Sparta Rotterdam League Performance
Historical chart of league performance

Below is a table with Sparta Rotterdam's domestic results since the introduction of the Eredivisie in 1956.

Sparta in Europe

  • Q = Qualifying Round
  • 1R = First round
  • 2R = Second round
  • 3R = Third round
  • 1/4 = Quarter-final
Season Competition Round Club Score
1959–60 European Cup 1R Sweden IFK Göteborg 3–1, 1–3, 3–1
1/4 Scotland Rangers 2–3, 1–0, 2–3
1962–63 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Q Switzerland Lausanne-Sport 0–3, 4–2
1966–67 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1R Malta Floriana 1–1, 6–0
2R Switzerland Servette 0–2, 1–0
1970–71 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1R Iceland ÍA Akranes 6–0, 9–0
2R Northern Ireland Coleraine 2–0, 2–1
3R Germany Bayern Munich 1–2, 1–3
1971–72 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1R Bulgaria Levski-Spartak 1–1, 2–0
2R Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Red Star Belgrade 1–1, 1–2
1983–84 UEFA Cup 1R Northern Ireland Coleraine 4–0, 1–1
2R East Germany Carl Zeiss Jena 3–2, 1–1
3R Soviet Union Spartak Moscow 1–1, 0–2
1985–86 UEFA Cup 1R Germany Hamburger SV 2–0, 0–2 (4–3 n.p.)
2R Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach 1–1, 1–5

Current squad

No. Position Player
1 Netherlands GK Nick Olij
2 Comoros DF Saïd Bakari
3 Netherlands DF Bart Vriends
4 Netherlands DF Tijs Velthuis
5 Netherlands DF Django Warmerdam
6 Netherlands MF Jonathan de Guzmán
7 Netherlands MF Pelle Clement
8 Norway MF Joshua Kitolano
9 Norway FW Tobias Lauritsen
10 Belgium MF Arno Verschueren
11 Japan MF Koki Saito (on loan from Lommel)
No. Position Player
12 Netherlands DF Dylan van Wageningen
13 Netherlands DF Rick Meissen
14 Democratic Republic of the Congo MF Metinho (on loan from Troyes)
15 Suriname DF Djevencio van der Kust
16 Algeria MF Camiel Neghli
19 Canada FW Charles-Andreas Brym
20 Netherlands GK Youri Schoonderwaldt
21 Netherlands DF Mike Eerdhuijzen
22 Netherlands DF Delano Vianello
Spain DF Sergi Rosanas
Japan MF Shunsuke Mito

Out on loan

No. Position Player
Netherlands GK Delano van Crooij (at VVV-Venlo until 30 June 2024)
Netherlands MF Patrick Brouwer (at Emmen until 30 June 2024)
No. Position Player
United States FW Agustin Anello (at Cambuur until 30 June 2024)

Jong Sparta Rotterdam

Jong Sparta Rotterdam is the second team of Sparta Rotterdam, consisting mainly of players who are not yet eligible for a spot in the first team's squad. The team has been competing in the third-tier Tweede Divisie since 2016. Previously, it played in the Beloften Eredivisie.

No. Position Player
Netherlands GK Rafael de Heij
Germany GK Kaylen Reitmaier
Netherlands GK Dylan Tevreden
Netherlands DF Max de Ligt
Netherlands DF Jay den Haan
Togo DF Augustin Drakpe
Netherlands DF Jason Meerstadt
Netherlands DF Kjeld van den Hoek
Netherlands DF Tiziano Vianello
Netherlands DF Marvin Young
No. Position Player
Netherlands MF Hamza el Dahri
Curaçao MF Rayvien Rosario
Netherlands MF Constantijn Schop
Netherlands FW Luuk Admiraal
Netherlands FW Jesse Bal
Netherlands FW Mike Frimpong
Netherlands FW Dano Lourens
Netherlands FW Mehmet Yüksel
Netherlands FW Dean Zandbergen

Former players

Further information: Category:Sparta Rotterdam players

Club staff

Position Name
Head coach Netherlands Jeroen Rijsdijk
Assistant coach Morocco Nourdin Boukhari
Goalkeeping coach Netherlands Frank Kooiman
Video analyst Netherlands Wesly Lisboa
Chief scout Netherlands Jesper Gudde
Scout Netherlands Bart Latuheru
Club doctor Netherlands Simon Knops
Physiotherapist Netherlands Rogier Hoek
Japan Kohei Sagara
Team Official Netherlands Ronald Hanstede
Kit Manager Netherlands Ben Wessels
Academy manager Netherlands Jason Oost
Technical director Netherlands Gerard Nijkamp

Former coaches

  • Edgar Chadwick (1915)
  • Peter Donaghy (1929–30)
  • Doug Livingstone (1949)
  • Walter Crook (1950)
  • Denis Neville (1955–63)
  • Bill Thompson (1963–66)
  • Wiel Coerver (1966–69)
  • Georg Keßler (1970–71)
  • Elek Schwartz (1971–72)
  • Jimmy Adamson (1976)
  • Cor Brom (1976–78)
  • Mircea Petescu (1978–80)
  • Joop Brand (1980)
  • Barry Hughes (1980–83)
  • Bert Jacobs (1983–84)
  • Theo Vonk (1984–86)
  • Barry Hughes (1986–88)
  • Rob Baan (1988–90)
  • Rob Jacobs (1991–93)
  • Han Berger (1993–95)
  • Henk van Stee (1995)
  • Henk ten Cate (1995–97)
  • Hans van der Zee (1997–98)
  • Jan Everse (1998–99)
  • Dolf Roks (1999–01)
  • Willem van Hanegem (2001)
  • Frank Rijkaard (2001–02)
  • Fritz Korbach (2003)
  • Chris Dekker (2003)
  • Mike Snoei (2003–05)
  • Adri van Tiggelen (interim) (2005)
  • Wiljan Vloet (2005–07)
  • Gert Aandewiel (2007)
  • Adri van Tiggelen (interim) (2007)
  • Foeke Booy (2007–09)
  • Frans Adelaar (2009–10)
  • Aad de Mos (2010)
  • Jan Everse (2010–11)
  • Jos van Eck (2011)
  • Michel Vonk (2011–13)
  • Henk ten Cate (interim) (2013)
  • Gert Kruys (2014)
  • Alex Pastoor (2015–2017)
  • Dolf Roks (interim) (2017)
  • Dick Advocaat (2018)
  • Henk Fraser (2018–2022)
  • Maurice Steijn (2022–2023)
  • Jeroen Rijsdijk (2023–present)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sparta de Róterdam para niños

  • Sparta Rotterdam season 2001–02
  • Sparta Rotterdam season 2002–03
  • Sparta Rotterdam season 2003–04
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