Koos Knoef (August 5, 1946) was blessed with a beautiful football name, but his football career was less happy. The attacking midfielder of Heracles and Go Ahead Eagles had to end his career by a reluctant knee at the age of 24.
Knoef's talent was recognized at a young age. At the age of sixteen he already made his debut with Heracles, where he quickly played in the base. Several clubs competed for his favors, but Heracles did not want to let him go. In 1967, the Almeloans tacked and Koos Knoef was able to take a step higher. He could choose from several clubs. He could also go to Sparta, but his wife Elly did not want to go further than the IJssel, so that the option of Rotterdam expired. In addition, Go Ahead played good combination football, something that suited him well.
Feared middle line with Nico Rijnders and Wietze Veenstra
At that time 'Kowet' was a regular sub-topper in the Netherlands. Under the leadership of František Fadrhonc – a trainer for whom Knoef had great respect – a spot in the left row was invariably achieved. The Eagle's Chest was a fortress that was difficult to take. Knoef played in an excellent team with players such as Oeki Hoekema, Dick Schneider, Gerard Somer, Henk Warnas and Johnny Oude Wesselink. The tireless and technical Knoef, together with Nico Rijnders and Wietze Veenstra, formed a feared middle line that was considered the best midfield in the Netherlands by various experts.
Disapproved for professional football at the age of 24
Unfortunately Koos Knoef had to deal with a knee that to say the least did not cooperate. From the age of seventeen he already suffered from the joint on which he was operated on several times. He also had problems with his cartilage. During the season preparation in 1970, things went wrong. Full of optimism, Knoef, who describes himself as a type Van der Vaart, started the season under new trainer Barry Hughes. During the training camp in Scotland he excelled, including in the match against East Five. After that it went wrong during a training and he suffered again. His fear, and that of Deventer and the surrounding area no less, came true. The famous doctor Strikwerda had to reject Knoef after playing 85 games for Go Ahead, for playing professional football. He tried again in October, but did not return. To his great sorrow, Knoef had to end his promising football career at the age of 24. As a footballer he could never show his skills in the Adelaarshorst.
After this terrible moment, he was forced to focus on a social career. In his younger years, Knoef had attended commercial evening school and obtained a textile certificate and a middle-class diploma. As a semi-professional, he already worked at Akzo Nobel in Deventer on administration. He continued to work there until his retirement. He also became a trainer of Schalkhaar, Hector, Heino and Koninklijke UD. He has also been Heracles' team manager for a while, after which Koos Knoef indicated that quitting professional football had done more to him than he expected. He missed football terribly and it took him years to get back in place. His wife and sons dragged him through this difficult time.
Where would Knoef have played without a knee injury?
Knoef played once for the Netherlands Under 23, in the game against England in 1969. Unfortunately, it was one of his few career highlights. His buddies from the legendary Go Ahead midfield all deserved a nice transfer. Nico Rijnders, who died a few years later after heart problems, left for Ajax. Wietse Veenstra, with whom Knoef is still good friends, left for PSV. The big question remains for which top club Koos Knoef would have signed if his knee had not let him down. Because he was without a doubt a talented football player.
For this article we were allowed to use information on the nice website of Robann Consultancy, for which we thank you!