Who is Frans Thijssen?

While the 62-year-old has had a decorated career in the game, including 14 caps and three goals for the Netherlands, his name is not very well known in Australia. Here’s a brief summary of the former Ipswich Town star who’s got the job of salvaging Brisbane Roar FC’s season.


A hard-nosed but extremely skillful player, Thijssen was your archetypal Dutch midfielder during his playing days.

His professional career started in 1970 at hometown club N.E.C. Nijmegen, spending three years there before switching to FC Twente, making 167 appearances for them over six seasons.

Despite some limited success playing in his native Holland – including making his international debut in 1975 – it was in 1979 when his career really took off.

Moving abroad wasn’t as common in those days as it is now and the Dutchman took the huge gamble to move to England, a style of football foreign to the then 27-year-old.

Along with compatriot Arnold Muhren, he joined Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town and helped them become not only one of the leading clubs in England but also one that made waves in Europe.

Just two seasons after arriving there, Ipswich managed their greatest achievement in 1981, winning the UEFA Cup. Thijssen scored a goal in both legs of the final as Ipswich beat Dutch club AZ Alkmaar ’67 5-4 on aggregate.

The achievement – and his superb performances – saw Thijssen win the prestigious English Footballer of the Year award.

That was a golden period of his career, and after leaving Ipswich in 1983 he went on to play another eight seasons at Nottingham Forest, Vancouver, Fortuna Sittard, FC Groningen and Vitesse before hanging up his boots.

Unfortunately for Thijssen, success from his playing days hasn’t followed him into the coaching ranks.

Spells at Vitesse, Swedish club Malmö FF (where he was sacked), De Graafschap and Fortuna Sittard were tough times.

He moved to the Middle East in 2002, working with various youth clubs in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates before returning to Holland in 2011 to work with FC Twente’s Under-23 side.

Now Thijssen, who is expected to assume the role of technical director at Brisbane Roar at season’s end, has the job of reinvigorating the side’s fortunes in the Hyundai A-League.