HFC Haarlem Globetrotters: Sexy Football – Introduction



The 90’s. Walkmans, Spice Girls, Ninja Turtles, Pogs, Corinthian Football Figures, Windows 95, Adidas Tearaways, Saved by the Bell, Championship Manager. What a time to be alive. While the 90’s are full of nostalgia and often looked upon as a golden generation of modern society, the 90’s were also a lighthouse period in football wherein we truly saw the globalisation of the beautiful game as an industry and devout passion all over the world. While now almost all levels of football from all corners of the globe are accessible through television and social media, there was a time when football news and live coverage came to us only through avenues such as Teletext, Newspaper Publications, Match/Shoot Magazines and (at the time) a TV Network that was still very much at it’s infancy as a football conglomerate; Sky Sports. It was here that many of us hold our first and/or main footballing memories of the English Premiership, FA Cup Finals, Spring Transfer Windows, Intertoto Cups, USA 94, Euro 96, World Cup 98, Coca Cola/Worthington Cups and of course the rebirth of the UEFA Champions League culminating in that famous last minute Man Utd victory over Bayern Munich in 1999.



But that’s not all the 90’s are famous for in footballing terms. As the English Premiership began to broaden it’s horizons and branch further out into mainland Europe with regard to player and staff additions, the arrival of one Ruud Gullit into English football as both a player and a manager was very much a landmark moment in terms of how football in England was ready to evolve and become much more attractive and appealing as it was “on the continent”, and it was Gullit that opened many eyes to this concept and captured the hearts and minds of millions through a concept which quickly evolved to become one of the most recognisable terms the sport has offered over the past few decades; Sexy Football.



While Gullit is remembered as a World-Class footballer having had highly successful stints at Feyenoord, PSV, Milan, Chelsea and at international level for the Netherlands during which he showed a unique abilty to play in almost any area of the pitch, he is often widely remembered for his time at Chelsea and Newcastle by most Premier League football enthusiasts where he featured as a Player/Manager, and the concept of Sexy Football was first coined and used by the wider media when referring to Gullit’s style of play and footballing philosophy. It’s fair to say we saw this implemented to some extent at both clubs albeit for a briefer period than planned – fast-paced, skillful, technical and entertaining attacking football was what Gullit believed in and it is on this premise that my first and main Football Manager 2023 save will be built. To do so, we will be going back to the roots and origin of Ruud Gullit’s incredible footballing journey as well as to the city in which he was born:



There’s just one small problem. The club was dissolved in 2010…


Let’s rewind. H.F.C. Haarlem were established in 1889 and enjoyed a consistent rise in their footballing pedigree which culminated in their first and only Eredivisie title in 1946 when local boy and excellently named Kick Smit (who scored Holland’s first ever World Cup finals goal in 1934) returned to the club and scored the goal which gave them a 1 point lead over Ajax to win the title. Despite this and despite the club going professional in 1954, the club proceeded to yo-yo between the Eeredivisie and Eerste Divisie in subsequent years, and it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that the club reached their next big milestone, finishing 4th in the league and qualifying for European Football with a youthful side containing one Ruud Gullit who had been pivotal in helping the club gain promotion in the previous season and was voted Eerste Divisie Player of the Year at just 18 years of age.



Gullit subsequently left for Feyenoord and was clearly far above the level Haarlem could offer, but Haarlem managed to give a fine account of themselves in the UEFA Cup, beating Gent in Round 1 before losing out to Spartak Moscow in the second round over two legs. Unfortunately the club then went on another spell of decline, eventually being relegated under Dick Advocaat and after failing repeatedly to return to the Eredivisie, the club’s financial situation worsened until they eventually declared bankruptcy and were dissolved in 2010.


HFC Haarlem vs KAA Gent, UEFA Cup 1983






That’s right – my FM23 save will be navigated under the guidance and tutelage of the master of sexy football himself, Mr. Ruud Gullit. Using the FM23 Editor, we will restore HFC Haarlem to professional football and place them in the Eerste Divisie (aka the Keuken Kampioen Divisie) which is the 2nd Tier of Dutch football and the lowest available Dutch League in Football Manager – I would have liked to start a bit lower but in addition to the fact that I really don’t want to use/wait for an edited database, the real-life rules of this league mean that clubs can only be promoted into it if they are willing to turn professional and have an incredibly solid business plan in place, who better to put this together than Ruud himself?! This means we will start the 2022/2023 season in the Eerste Divisie but with no players or staff in our new professional status and with one main focus throughout the save: SEXY FOOTBALL, to realise Ruud’s lifelong dream of turning his beloved local HFC Haarlem of North Holland into a global phenomenon, i.e. the HAARLEM GLOBETROTTERS (see what I did there?). In this save, our objective is to restore HFC Haarlem but do it under an ethos of Sexy Football – i.e. fast, technical, creative, fluid attacking football wherein we will look to shape our formation, tactical style and player/team instructions all towards the more technical and creative elements of the game, as well as only signing players with high combinations of Pace, Vision, Flair, Technique, First Touch, Passing and Dribbling attributes (relative to our league position and reputation etc), while also fostering a variety of Player Traits which will contribute heavily to our sexy football philosophy (see below) as well as only recruiting backroom staff with high Technical and Tactical coaching attributes and a primary focus on attacking football.




Based on this, our main save objectives are as follows:

✅ Sign players with high Pace, Vision, Flair, Technique, First Touch, Passing and Dribbling attributes (relative to our league position and reputation etc)

✅ Recruit backroom staff with high Technical and Tactical coaching attributes and primary focus on attacking football.

✅ Build a working tactic that best exemplifies Sexy Football

✅ Qualify for European football for the first time since 1982 and win the Eredivisie title for the first time since 1946

✅ Build a new stadium (which I haven’t done in FM previously) to replace the 3,442 capacity Haarlem Stadion (preferably named The Ruud Gullit stadium 😄)

✅ Develop one youth player to be capped for the Netherlands and nurture the traits above into his playing style

✅ Sign Maxim Gullit, son of Ruud and nephew of Johan Cruyff – formerly of AZ and currently playing for SC Cambuur in the Eredivisie

Father & Son


Don’t forget the sexy swag….


Needless to say – a team that was dissolved over 10 years ago needs some fresh threads and a lick of paint which requires a stroll down memory lane to take a peek at some of their previous strips from years gone by…


Left to Right: 1969 (h), 1990 (a), 1985 (h)


With Haarlem being Ruud Gullit’s place of birth, it goes without saying that some local/Dutch inspiration is required if we are to truly restore this club under the guise of sexy football…


 That retro Adidas logo 😍


 With that in mind 🔥🔥..


Big shout out to my co-designer @kc87bw


Ruud Gullit’s “sexy football” only lasted one year at Newcastle during which they finished in 13th place and reached an FA Cup Final. Can we do better? Only time will tell – our adventure begins on November 8th with the full release of Football Manager 2023.



Thanks for reading, be sure to hit the follow button below to get instant updates when a new post is live, as well as following me on Twitter and Twitch where we will have as many occasional streams as possible! I have also set up a fictional Twitter account for HFC Haarlem so you can stay in touch with the main events of this save – it’s not like they can stop us right? You can also catch me every Monday on 5 Star Potential, the longest running weekly Football Manager podcast.




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