Former Rangers and Barcelona legend reveals 'most intense' rivalry he's experienced in football

Giovanni van Bronckhorst presents the UEFA Nations League trophyGiovanni van Bronckhorst presents the UEFA Nations League trophy
Giovanni van Bronckhorst presents the UEFA Nations League trophy
Giovanni van Bronckhorst insists the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers outranks El Clasico in intensity.

Former Rangers, Barcelona, and Arsenal defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst has explained the difference between two of world football's most fiercest derby atmospheres.

The Dutchman, who spent two spells at Ibrox as a player and more recently as first-team manager, claimed that the Old Firm outranks El Clasico as the most intense fixture he's every featured in, despite insisting games between Barcelona and Real Madrid were the biggest of his career.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking to FourFourTwovan Bronckhorst talked up both rivalries, stating: "The Old Firm was the most intense, on and off the pitch, but the Clasico was the biggest derby I ever played in. The whole world was watching. In my time at Barcelona, Real Madrid had all of the Galacticos, but we usually won those games."

Van Bronckhorst found himself on the winning side of the fixture on three occasions during his spell at the Nou Camp, even grabbing a goal against Madrid in a 3-0 win at the home of the Catalan giants in 2004.

He added: "Real Madrid weren’t dominant in Spain, despite their stars. One of my most beautiful Clasicos was the away match we won 3-0, when Ronaldinho received a standing ovation. I scored against Real at the Camp Nou as well."

The former left-back, who was part of the Netherlands squad that finished runners-up to Spain at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has yet to return to management after being sacked by last year. However, his experience of derby fixtures stretches beyond Scotland and Spain, having also featured in De Klassieker for Feyenoord against Ajax, as well as the North London derby for Arsenal against Tottenham.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I think my best Klassieker between Feyenoord and Ajax was a game when I was a manager, in the cup," van Bronckhorst reflected. "We won in injury time through an own goal by Joel Veltman, went into the next round and eventually won the cup. That was my first trophy as coach of Feyenoord.

He continued: I’ve always enjoyed derbies, including the build-up to them. Sadly, I never scored in a North London Derby against Tottenham, although I scored against Chelsea and that counts as a London derby, right?"

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.