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Mark van Bommel retires in red....In the referee's book

Mark van Bommel has hung up his boots at the age of 36 after over two decades spent on the pitch.

Julian Finney

Mark van Bommel, the former FC Bayern Munich captain, has retired after spending two decades in the top flights of European football at some of Europe's largest clubs. The defensive midfielder man saw action in over 500 club games during this time and was capped 79 times for the Dutch national team following his debut in 2000.

His numerous club accolades from 20 years of work comprise four Eredivise titles, one La Liga title, two Bundesliga titles, one Scudetto, twelve domestic cups, two UEFA Champions League finals, and a UEFA Champions League trophy earned in 2005 with Barcelona.

Van Bommel started his professional career at the age of 15 and became known as one of the most aggressive defensive midfielders in the game. His ball winning skills have been heralded and led him to playing time at Barcelona, AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, and Bayern Munich where he spent 5 seasons, including time as the first non-German captain of Bayern Munich.

Between 2006 and his transfer in January 2011, Mark van Bommel saw yellow 54 times, and saw red 4 times for Bayern Munich in 123 appearances over those years, helping to cement his reputation as an aggressive tackling and ball winning machine. Infamously, van Bommel was a key player for the Netherlands in the World Cup Final 2010. Known as one of the roughest World Cup finals in history, van Bommel and 13 other players were booked in a 120' minute extra time affair that the Netherlands lost 1-0 to Spain.

In his final match yesterday, van Bommel saw yellow twice, and fittingly exited his final match with his back to the referee's hand that showed red.

Here are some of our writer's favorite memories of Mark van Bommel wearing red.


Mark Van Bommel did not score a lot of goals, but he did have a big one against Fiorentina the second leg in Italy. Fiorentina had already scored two goals, so Bayern was already on the outside looking in. Then, van Bommel got the ball at the top of the box and smacked a low laser in to the bottom left corner. That put Bayern back into the game at 2-1, and they would end up advancing to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 loss (4-4 aggregate). I remember watching that game clenching my hands together, praying that something good would happen. Then, Van Bommel scored that goal, and I jumped five feet in the air. Of course, he left Bayern the very next year, but I still watched him at AC Milan. I've always had an affinity for holding midfielders, and since his name was dutch like mine (well, he's Dutch, I'm technically not), I warmed up to him a lot. He will be missed.


Mark Van Bommel was a hero to me despite the fact that everyone in my family who loves football considered him a thug. In 2009, he committed a foul on Messi against Barcelona that led to Messi scoring one of the goals; that moment was put down as 'karma'. But Van Bommel was a special captain- Bayern's first ever non-German captain. He lifted the shield better than anyone did- he was simply the man for the business. He played with his heart on his sleeve and Bayern never lost a match in which Captain Dutch was sent off.

I have plenty of great memories of Van Bommel including a tie deciding second goal he scored against Real Madrid in 2007 in a 3-2 loss at the Bernabeu. But my favorite Van Bommel memory came against Fiorentina in 2009. Bayern had won the first leg 2-1 but was trailing 2-0 in the second. Van Bommel scored a goal which evened the tie; it was scored from outside the box. He actually passed, yep, passed the ball into the back of the net. The moment was one which expressed beauty thoroughly; those associating Van Bommel's character with his football would hardly consider him capable of scoring such a goal.

To sum him up, another of my favorite moments was when he pushed (I think it was against HSV) player, or rather elbowed him, behind the referee to allow Bayern to have a one man advantage in attack. The ref never realized and the player lay on the ground. I found it hilarious; I bet the player didn't. The man who was once awarded the 'stinkboot of the year' award by the Bundesliga refs was and will always remain a hero to Bayern fans, especially me. If there was ever a thug following Effenberg's times, it was Van Bommel.

I hope he sails off into retirement with a smile....and a red card!


I love Mark Van Bommel. Is he too aggressive sometimes? Yeah. Probably, but that doesn't make him any less fantastic. Van Bommel was the first non-German captain for Bayern which is an incredibly huge honor. While there are always some supporters that aren't big fans of his, it's tough to argue that Van Bommel hasn't been super loved by the supporters of the clubs of which he has been a member. While not the most skilled player or one that played the most beautiful football, Van Bommel always gave his all on the field, and everyone knew it. Watch PSV supporters show their support for Van Bommel a couple of weeks ago.

I don't have one particular memory that stands out about Van Bommel. He's a favorite of mine, and the sport is worse off now that Mark is gone. Hopefully, he joins the coaching ranks sooner rather than later.

What are your memories from Mark van Bommel's 20 year career?

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