Since emerging as a world power in the Seventies, Holland have been run by avant garde coaching gurus (Rinus Michels, Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink) or their footballing aristocracy (Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten).
Everyman: Bert van Marwijk may not have the international playing pedigree of his predecessors, but his hard work has paid rich dividends
So it is with a degree of bemusement that Holland are in the World Cup final coached by a man who was neither a talented player or a tactical innovator. If anything, Bert van Marwijk is football's equivalent of a civil servant.
Behind the reserve Van Marwijk is always working. Patience and observation are qualities he has possessed since his youth. Much of it comes from his father, with whom he used to team up on the card tables, playing the Dutch trick-taking game Klaverjassen. So good were the Van Marwijks at out-thinking their opponents that they became world champions in 1975.
At 58, reading people is Van Marwijk's special suit. His handling of this assembly of Dutch egos has been the subject of pleasant surprise in his homeland. For once the Dutch haven't fought and they have played with a team spirit unrecognisable in recent Oranje history. Van Marwijk has been the glue that has held this squad together.
Publicly, he lacks charm. He is dour and dry and quickly irritated. There is a vanity to his bearing but it is a tetchy kind of self-regard, that of the undervalued and overlooked clerk. That is partly down to an unfulfilled playing career: Van Marwijk was a flaky winger, often injured who picked up a lone cap for Holland in 1975. He was substituted.
His abilities have been more valuably cultivated elsewhere. He took up youth coaching at 30, while still a player at Maastricht, and worked his way round small Dutch clubs until he came to national attention by leading Fortuna Sittard to the final of the Dutch Cup in 1999 (they lost 2-0 to Ajax).
Next came a spell with Feyenoord (he fought with Robin van Persie) where he won the Uefa Cup, then 2½ years with Borussia Dortmund (who he had beaten in the final) and a second spell at Feyenoord where he won the Dutch Cup.
Throughout his career he has remained close to Mark van Bommel, his son-in-law, who he coached at Sittard. With Gio van Bronckhorst, he remains Van Marwijk's chief lieutenant.
His methods are pragmatic and conservative. He is not a tactical risk taker and has quite willing sold the 'soul’ of Dutch football in exchange for the assurance of victory.