Wilhelmus Antonius 'Willy' van de Kerkhof (September 16, 1951) is THE twin brother of crack René van de Kerkhof who once drove his car into the water.
He is the twin brother of fellow international René van de Kerkhof. As amateur players they both played for the Helmond association RKSV Mulo. Together they made their professional debut at FC Twente and played at PSV for years. Brother Gerard also played as a professional football player, at Helmond Sport and Sparta. Father Renier van de Kerkhof (1910-1956) was an amateur football player at Deurania in Deurne.
Willy van de Kerkhof was a fast, frequent midfielder, who, in addition to constructive and offensive, also performed in a defensive way. He was a 'super ball re-conqueror'. As a football player, Van de Kerkhof was nicknamed 'the vacuum cleaner' because of his defensive work, always chasing every ball. He had an enormous fitness and range. Nowadays there is still talk of 'a type of Willy van de Kerkhof' when such a player is sought.
Willy made his debut for the Dutch national team on June 5, 1974 in Rotterdam against Romania in preparation for that year's world championship in West Germany. Like his twin brother René, he was selected for that final tournament, but did not play for a second during that World Cup. At the 1978 World Cup (Argentina), he was part of the selection as a basic player. Together with Ruud Krol, he was the only player in the selection who did not miss a minute of the seven games during the 1978 World Cup. He played a total of 63 games for the Dutch, in which he – just like his brother – scored five times.
In March 2004 he was selected by Pelé for the international Top-125 of living footballers. Van de Kerkhof played most of his career with PSV: a total of seventeen seasons, two of which with the PSV amateurs. He is also a merit member of PSV. Twin brother René once drove Willy's car into the water. But according to Willy, the car was not a total loss: "At least he didn't want to drive anymore …"
Willy van de Kerkhof has been married to Antoinette Liebregts since 1970 and is the father of Manuela (1970), William (1973), Joyce (1976) and Mike (1980). Daughter Joyce is married to football player André Ooijer.
(Photo: ANP Foundation)