"This World Cup is my ultimate dream,” the Oranje captain told FIFA.com in April 2009. Handed the armband when Bert van Marwijk took over the Netherlands reins in the summer of 2008, the evergreen Feyenoord full-back will be bringing an end to a 14-year love affair with the national team in South Africa. Unsurprisingly, he hopes to bow out with a winner’s medal, having yet to taste the same success on the international stage he has always known in the club game. Whether it be in Scotland, England or Spain, Van Bronckhorst has won titles wherever he has played.
Brought through the ranks at Feyenoord while growing up close by as a youngster, ‘Gio’ went on to make his professional debut with Waalwijk in 1993, before returning to Rotterdam to contest four sparkling seasons with the club closest to his heart. That persuaded Dick Advocaat to bring him to Rangers in the summer of 1998, and the youngster moved to Glasgow having failed to dispute a single minute of action at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™. Twice a league winner during his three years in Scotland, Van Bronckhorst was typically employed as an attacking midfielder at Ibrox, before earning a €13m switch to English side Arsenal. The Gunners identified the newcomer as a replacement for Emmanuel Petit, but after playing a central role in their 2001/02 championship win, he injured his knee and lost his place in the starting line-up.
A loan move to Barcelona followed in the summer of 2003 and the Catalan club’s coach Frank Rijkaard opted to field him at left-back. His maiden season was a success and the Blaugrana promptly tied him to a permanent deal, after which he helped them clinch the Spanish crown in 2004/05 and their historic Liga and UEFA Champions League double the following year. Van Bronckhorst then signed on for another spell at Feyenoord in June 2007, putting pen to paper on a three-year contract that has just come to an end. An international since 1996, he had to wait until UEFA EURO 2004 to become an Oranje regular, and was a key figure under Marco van Basten before being rewarded with the captaincy two years ago.