After ‘four or five’ rejections from KNVB, Dick Schreuder now crops up as trainer at PEC

After ‘four or five’ rejections from KNVB, Dick Schreuder now crops up as trainer at PEC
Dick Schreuder

NOS Football

Dick Schreuder can safely be called a late bloomer as a trainer. He was turned down “four or five times” for the highest trainer’s training and only this season, at the age of 51, recorded his first significant performance at a Dutch professional club.

He promoted to the premier league with PEC Zwolle last week and may yet become first division champion. “Tricky, but also nice,” Schreuder said of the achievement he achieved with his team.

Schreuder overjoyed with promotion PEC Zwolle: ‘This is what we have been working for all year’

The Barnevelder was appointed head coach of PEC in November 2021. He succeeded Art Langeler at the club, which at the time was in dire straits in the premier league. Things were also rumbling at the administrative level. “In the weeks before the decision people said I would be crazy if I went to Zwolle,” he said.

After Schreuder took office, things improved athletically but could not avert relegation. The former professional footballer saw in Zwolle that “things came to the surface” that he had not expected. After the relegation, PEC took a jacket off financially and had to make a broom through the selection.


Last season did not necessarily get any quieter in Zwolle, especially behind the scenes. Despite PEC settling in at the top of the first division on the pitch early in the season, there were also critical noises about Schreuder. “Criticism is not fun, but it’s part of the game. It wasn’t very many supporters either.”

Although Schreuder believes supporters should be taken seriously, he says they often react out of emotion. That’s why he and his staff members stayed his own course. This ultimately resulted in sporting success. Young talents, like Younes Taha, Thomas Beelen, Dean Huiberts and Thomas van den Belt were able to mature under the wings of experienced guys like Bram van Polen, Bart van Hintum and Ryan Thomas.

So, despite relatively stable results and promotion, there were doubts about Schreuder last season as well. It is not the first time he had to deal with this. It was clear to Schreuder early on that he wanted to become a head coach in professional soccer. However, he did not have the required piece of paper.

To the training program that should provide him with the right diploma, he was denied admission several times. He already tried during his time with SDV Barneveld, where he was trainer between 2007 and 2013. “Every time the excuse was different. Then I was training at too low a level, then I should have been an assistant coach at a professional club, then again I was not socially engaged enough.”

Philadelphia Union assistant coach

The many rejections were a reason for the coach to leave the Netherlands in January 2018. He became assistant coach of Philadelphia Union in the MLS, the highest American soccer league. There he enjoyed staying for a year and a half.

Indeed, Schreuder experienced many adventures on the other side of the ocean. “Playing away games were like vacations. For example, we would play a game in Los Angeles on Saturday and fly as early as Wednesday. Players got a lot of free time and had restaurants picked out in advance.”

He also, by his own admission, learned a lot there. “I learned to take weather conditions into account. At one game in Colorado, players were in the locker room wearing oxygen masks. I also found out that it’s not good to always be strict with players.”

Dick Schreuder celebrates after promotion at Almere City stadium

Schreuder liked it so well that he cried that he would not return to the Netherlands. Yet things turned out differently. So after a period as assistant coach of his brother Alfred at Hoffenheim and Vitesse, he became trainer of PEC in 2021.

There he sees a bright future. He is convinced that the people from Zwolle will stay in the premier league next year. There is a good chance that this will happen under his leadership, although he does not rule out a departure. “It is possible.” But he adds right away that he is not thinking of leaving at the moment.

That he won’t just leave proved earlier this season. He received an offer from FC Groningen, but declined. He thinks the troubled Groningen would have maintained itself in the premier league under his leadership.

Schreuder emphasizes that he will only leave PEC in case of a nice offer. He believes that a trainer should have ambitions. He has them himself. Schreuder would like to become head coach at a top club.

The chance of working with his brother Alfred, who was fired from Ajax earlier this season, is then small. After all, his brother, with whom Dick says things are going well, is also head coach. “In our way of working it does not feel like there is a head coach or an assistant coach,” Schreuder said to indicate that a collaboration between the brothers in the future is not completely out of the question.

Nevertheless, Dick let it be known that he is not in the process of a brother reunion for the time being. First of all because Alfred also gets enough offers and because Dick has his own ambitions. It is his dream to once again work as head coach in the MLS. “I still miss America,” he said.

Kayleigh Williams