Eerie remains of abandoned football stadium where one of world’s best players made their debut is revealed in pictures

PICTURES have revealed the eerie remains of an abandoned football stadium where one of the world’s best players made his debut.

Stadion Oosterpark in the Netherlands has been left to the elements for years despite witnessing the start of football legend Johan Cruyff’s professional career.

The once-iconic stadium has now been left to rot after being abandoned in 2005 Credit: YouTube

Rows of seats have been left blackened with dust and grime Credit: YouTube

Weeds have begun sprouting through the cracks in the ground Credit: YouTube

Stadion Oostenpark was where Johan Cruyff made his Ajax debut in 1964 Credit: PA:Press Association

The ground opened in 1933 and was FC Groningen’s home until the club moved out and to Stadion Euroborg in 2006.

In an emotional Forgotten Football Clubs tribute, fan Vincent Duitsch said of its closure: “Even still to this day although we all knew it was for the best, the famous Oosterparkstadion is still missed.”

Cruyff scored on his first-team debut for Dutch giants Ajax at Oosterpark in November 1964, scoring his side’s only goal in a 3-1 Groningen victory.

Other future Dutch internationals who made their first appearances there include Arjen Robben and Ronald Koeman.

When it was first opened, the site had one football pitch and three pitches for field hockey, but no stands nor changing facilities.

A modest stand with about 500 seats was installed in 1935.

Earth banks were laid around the pitch a little later, allowing more spectators to attend.

Yet after the Second World War the stadium still needed expanding – struggling to cope with the 4,000 fans wanting to turn up.

Three concrete terraces which lifted the capacity to 15,000 from 1948 onwards.

A new covered seating stand was then constructed – yet now it can be seen covered in dust.

Images of the abandoned stadium show countless rows of plastic red seats eaten away by grime and dirt.

The pitch is overgrown with untrimmed grass while weeds can be seen sprouting from cracks in the concrete flooring – all overlooked by empty wooden seats.

It might fuel the imagination to picture it as the first-team introduction for Cruyff, now regarded as one of the greatest players in history and as the finest Dutch footballer ever.

He won the Ballon d’Or for world footballer of the year three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974.

In 329 matches for Ajax, he scored 257 goals and provided more than 170 assists.

He moved to Spain’s Barcelona in 1973 for a world record transfer fee, helping the team win La Liga in his first season – and would score 60 goals in 180 games for the club.

He later managed both Ajax and Barcelona, where he inspired players such as current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.


Robben came through the youth system at Groningen and spent two years in the team before being bought by PSV Eindhoven.

He later played for Premier League side Chelsea, then Spanish side Real Madrid and the Bundesliga’s Bayern Munich in Germany.

Koeman, a former Everton manager, is another celebrated Groningen alumnus who helped them qualify for European competition for the first time in 1983.

Oosterpark continued to grow through the 1980s and 1990s and set a record attendance of 19,500 in 1988, in a UEFA Cup match against Swiss side Servette.

But the following decade he Dutch Football Association closed down standing sections and converted the area into seating.

Chilling wooden puppets were put in the standing sections to make the stadium look less empty.

Groningen’s last match there came on December 22, 2005 – signing off with a 3-0 cup tie victory over Voldendam.

Much of the ground was subsequently demolished, left to rot, and replaced by new surrounding housing.

Yet the modern homes nod to the lost ground, with a mural on the side of one flat reading “1933-2005”.

Nearby streets are called after other ex-stars such as Piet Franssen, or honour the names of original stands Langezijde and Parkzijde.

Oosterpark is not the only stadium to have been left abandoned.

Casement Park is currently derelict and yet is set to host fixtures at Euro 2028.

A venue that hosted Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea superstars in its latter days was also left neglected before being replaced by a supermarket.

And a stadium where England once played has been covered in graffiti as weeds take over the site.

FC Groningen played its last match at the Oosterpark on December 22, 2005 Credit: Alamy

Former Everton manager Ronald Koeman made his debut at Stadion Oosterpark Credit: Reuters

Arjen Robben, a former Chelsea player, is FC Groningen alumni Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

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