Johan Boskamp's profile in this country was relatively unknown when he was announced as the new boss of Stoke City manager in June 2005. However to older readers, and those keen observers of the world game his name will ring a bell, most notably as the great 1978 "Total Football" Dutch side. He has been in management since the early 90s and came into the British game with some success under his belt, with 3 Belgian titles (Anderlecht) and a Belgian Cup (with Genk)
He began his career in 1959 with his hometown club HOV Rotterdam, where he stayed for 5 years before starring for Feyenoord (1969-1970 and 1974-1982). He then went to Holland Sport (1970-1974) before linking up with Belgium club Racing Molenbeek. During his time at Molenbeek, he was voted the best player in the Belgium League (1975). As a no-nonsense midfielder, he played in the 1978 World Cup finals against Scotland in the group stages wearing the much-coveted No 14 shirt, made famous by Johan Cruyff.
His managerial and coaching career began with Belgium outfit Lierse SK, and en route to Anderlecht included stints with Denderhoutem, SK Beveren and KV Kortrijk. His greatest club managerial achievement came whilst at Anderlecht, where he won the Belgium title three years in succession in the 1990's and reached the latter stages of the European Cup before he leaving to face an entirely different challenge as coach of Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi.Whilst managing Dynamo Tiblisi (who he took into the Champions League, before being sacked in 1999 after the club were knocked out in the qualifying stages) he took on the dual role of managing the Georgian national team, taking charge on May 30th in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Norway. The qualifying campaign ended in failure and he was dismissed following Georgia's final European qualifier against Albania on October 9.
From there he returned to Belgium where he won the 2000 Belgian FA Cup with Racing Genk. By May of 2001 he was in Dubai managing Al Ahli after which had spells with Al Wasl of the United Arab Emirate and Kazma Sport of Kuwait (who he took to the final of the Kuwait Cup). His time in the Middle East also included time as the coach of the United Arab Emirates national team.
On the 29th June 2005, he was introduced to the British public as he was unveiled as the new manager of Stoke City Football Club, taking over from Tony Pulis, who had left the post one day earlier. Armed with a breif to '...scour both domestic and foreign markets for new players.' City chairman Gunnar Por Gislason said at the press conference to announce the appointment,
"Johan will be free to choose, but we expect he will have a broader view than his predecessor. If he elects to sign British players then we will be happy with that because we know he will have considered foreign players before making his decision. He has an assistant, Jan De Koning, who knows the player market very well in Holland and Belgium and that will be our focus to start with - Holland and Belgium. John Rudge will continue in his role as Director of Football and will be our link to the British market. There are good value players to be had here and we have made some excellent signings in the last three years."
With the club up for sale and the current owners with ambitions of Premiership football Johan has a challenge on his hands. Could this be the start of a new Potters' legend, time will tell.