Ruud Gullit is a Dutch soccer player. He was famous for his soccer skills and for his braided hair, which earned him the nickname “the black tulip.” Gullit was born in Amsterdam on September 1, 1962. He debuted as a sweeper for Haarlem, a first division Dutch team, when he was 16. He took on a more offensive role when he switched to Feyenoord, with whom he won a league championships and a Holland Cup over the course of three seasons. In 1985 Gullit joined PSV Eindhoven, with whom he won two national titles, scoring 46 goals in 68 games.
During a tournament in Barcelona in 1987, Gullit caught the attention of A.C. Milan’s new president, Silvio Berlusconi. Gullit went on to sign with the Italian team, playing alongside countrymen Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten. At the end of the year, Gullit won the Ballon d’Or, or Golden Ball award. He dedicated it to Nelson Mandela, then in prison for his fight against apartheid in South Africa. Gullit was cheerful both on and off the soccer field. The Dutch player became one of the symbols of A.C. Milan. Gifted with a strong physique, the “black tulip” played the role of attacking midfielder. His great talent showed in his ability to rapidly dribble and head the ball.
On May 1, 1988, with three games left to go in the Serie A championship, A.C. Milan faced Napoli, with whom it was tied in the overall rankings. Whoever won the game would most likely win the championship. A goal by Pietro Virdis put Milan in the lead. Soon afterwards, Napoli star Diego Maradona tied the game on a penalty kick. But thanks to two assists by Gullit, Milan won 3 – 2 and solidified its claim to victory. In the summer of 1988, Gullit played for the Dutch national team in the European Championships in Germany. As captain, Gullit led his squad to the finals against the Soviet Union. He was first to score, heading in an assist from Marco Van Basten. During the following season, Gullit remained a key player even though a serious injury kept him on the sidelines for months. During the Champions League final against Steaua Bucharest, he scored two of the four goals that gave his team the trophy.
Gullit would win another Champions League cup, two Italian Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups with A.C. Milan. In 1993, he switched teams to U.C. Sampdoria in Genoa, with whom he scored 16 goals in 31 games and won an Italian Cup. In 1995, Gullit was acquired by Chelsea. The following year, he played the double role of player and coach, and won the F.A. Cup. Ruud Gullit ended his playing career in 1998. He went on to coach for Newcastle, Feyenoord and the Los Angeles Galaxy, but did not obtain particularly noteworthy results.