Gullit, of Surinamese descent, was born Ruud Dil in Amsterdam. He signed for Meerboys as a junior in 1970. In 1978, he signed professional forms for HFC Haarlem by coach and former West Bromwich Albion F.C. player Barry Hughes. Gullit made 91 league appearances for Haarlem, scoring 32 goals.
In 1982, he moved to Feyenoord, where he made 85 league appearances, scoring 30 goals. In 1985 he moved to PSV Eindhoven for ƒ1.2 million (£400,000), for which he scored 46 goals in 68 league appearances.
Silvio Berlusconi signed Gullit for A.C. Milan in 1987, paying the then record fee of ƒ17 million ((€7.7 million, £6million)). Among his teammates at that club were countrymen Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, along with Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi. From 1988 to 1992, Milan captured three Serie A titles and two European Cups (1989 and 1990).
He won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1987 and dedicated it to Nelson Mandela.
After his retirement from international football in 1993, Gullit moved to Sampdoria and led the club to victory in the final of the 1993/1994 Italian Cup. AC Milan re-signed him in 1994, but he returned to Sampdoria to finish the 1994/95 season.
In July 1995, he signed for Chelsea F.C. on a free transfer. Initially played as sweeper by manager Glenn Hoddle with limited success, Gullit was moved to his more familiar role in midfield, where he scored six goals.
In 1981, on his 19th birthday, Gullit made his international debut for the Netherlands national team against Switzerland.
He was one of the key players for the Netherlands helping his country win the Euro 88.
Before the 1994 World Cup, Gullit walked out of the training camp and retired from international football.
In the summer of 1996, when Glenn Hoddle left Chelsea to become manager of the England national team, Gullit was appointed as a player-manager. Gullit made a promising start to his managerial career when in the first season as a player-manager he guided Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph in 1997, the club's first major trophy in 26 years. Gullit became the first non-British manager to win the FA Cup. The club also finished at a credible sixth place in the Premiership. The following season, with Chelsea in the second place in the Premiership and proceeding to the quarterfinals in two cup competitions, he was sacked, allegedly for a disagreement with the club's board over the compensation.
In 1998, he was named manager of Newcastle United F.C., and his managerial career again was on track, with an FA Cup final appearance in his first year. In the following season, fans began to turn against him after a poor run of results, and a well-publicised contretemps with star striker and local hero Alan Shearer and captain Robert Lee did not put him in a favorable light. Gullit even refused to assign Lee a squad number. On a match between Newcastle and local rivals Sunderland following the latter's return to the Premiership, Gullit, to the surprise of many, left the usually starting strikers Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson on the bench. Newcastle lost 2-1, although it was 1-1 when Shearer came on. Gullit resigned three days later, after only five games into the 1999-2000 season.
Before the start of the 2004/2005 season, he took charge of Feyenoord Rotterdam, quitting at the end of that season without winning any trophies.
After his spell at Newcastle Gullit spent several years working as a football commentator, having previously coined the term sexy football  during his spell as a BBC pundit during the 1996 European Championship. Gullit used the term to describe teams who played attractive football with an emphasis on the passing game.
By 2006, Gullit had a talk show on Dutch TV, where he has interviewed, amongst others, Nelson Mandela . He also appeared as a pundit for ITV during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
He is currently an analyst for the Eredivisie on Tien TV and on Sky Sports for UEFA Champions League games.
Gullit has been married three times and has six children:
Gullit was sponsored in 1990 to wear a black and white football boot made by Italian sports brand Lotto. The boot he wore was the Lotto Stadio 90, a boot which was initially created for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
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