Maurice Graef (1969)

Maurice Graef (August 22, 1969) managed to score 143 times in 344 official games. In the nineties he came out as an attacker for VVV Venlo, Roda JC and NEC.

Forward striker Maurice Graef was one of the best strikers in the premier league in the 1990s, culminating in second place with Roda JC after Champions League winner Ajax in the 1995-1996 season. Together with buddy Jeroen Boere, he was a dreaded jammer and goaltender. Maurice was also known as a real atmosphere maker who was a much sought-after guest on radio and TV programs with his infectious humor.

Maurice Graef played with Roda JC from 1994 to 1996. There he had his most successful years as a striker. Yet he is known as a VVV man because he wore the shirt of the club from Venlo for twelve seasons. Graef scored 117 goals for VVV (until 1985 still called FC VVV, after which the club was renamed only VVV) and is the 'top scorer of all time' at that club. His nickname 'The Bomber' was a comparison with the German real bomber Gerd Müller and this was certainly not out of place.

It was a striking striker, that Maurice Graef. Leaning back on his guard and always with his back to the goal. Then butt in and turn around the axis to free themselves and to be able to score and celebrate like Romario, with the raised index finger. Not very special, but distinctive in two ways: a few extra eyes in the back of the head and mercury in the buttocks. Not artistic but this made him a striking and useful center forward. Graef scored more goals than they could put asparagus in and around Limburg!

We go back to where it really started for son of the innkeeper Graef: the match VVV – Sparta (0-2) on December 17, 1988. In his youth he was trained at the local football club KSV Horn, at Sportpark Casquettenakker. A modest club, the first of which will play in the fifth division on Sunday. After he had gone from Horn to the youth of the Venlo Football Association in 1988, he was allowed to make his appearance in the first at the end of the same year. In 1989, however, the relegation to the Eerste Divisie proved inevitable due to the erosion of both the technical staff and the players group.

Graef grew into a fixed value who managed to find the target with a certain regularity. In the 1992-1993 season, Graef became the top scorer of the Eerste Divisie with 29 goals. In addition, the party was for the maximum 18,000 supporters in stadium 'De Koel': partly thanks to one Maurice Graef, 'The Good Old' VVV promoted to the Eredivisie that year, as in 1991. After a successful year at VVV in the Eredivisie (fourteen goals), a transfer to a bigger club was available. He therefore left for the other Limburg club, Roda JC from Kerkrade.

Beforehand he had great competition from, not even strange names, Graham Arnold, Frank Farina and Marco Boogers. Graef became and was therefore fourth choice. His first season with 'De Koempels', however, was quite successful. The 178 centimeter attacker managed to find the enemy net sixteen times and also made his European debut. On September 12, 1995 Slovenian Olimpija Ljubljana was the opponent of Roda JC in the UEFA Cup Tournament. Roda JC defeated the Slovenians 5-0. Maurice scored once, but it should come as no surprise that he scored ..!

After two seasons of Roda JC (sixty games, 22 goals), Graef left for N.E.C .. Graef had been told that he would probably get less playing time due to the fierce competition. He therefore decided to move to Nijmegen, a choice he would later indicate that he still regretted. At N.E.C. he played half a season, because in the winter break of the 1996-1997 season, Graef returned to the old nest, at VVV. There he played until he decided to stop playing football after the 2001-2002 season. A knee injury was to blame for this.

After a football life full of goals, Maurice Graef now scores in a broader area, such as with his 'CORE healthy' to move young people towards a healthier lifestyle. In May 2015 it was also announced that Graef was getting married again. Now with Joasia Kowalik. Maurice Graef had been married once before. He has two sons from that marriage.

(Photo: ANP – Hans Steinmeier)

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