Leeds United Air Crash Memories

Robert Molenaar

Life in 1998

In 1998 Robert was 29 years old. Following the plane crash he was eager to contact his fiancé Karin to let her know he was safe, they were due to get married in 10 weeks time.

Robert Molenaar’s memories of the plane crash taken from Phil Hay’s article in The Athletic in March 2021.

Robert Molenaar is almost embarrassed to admit that he was unruffled in the moment. “I was far too cool,” he says. “I can’t explain it because it’s not natural. I kept saying to everyone, ‘Keep calm, don’t panic’, and as soon as we got out of our seats, the first thing I did was try to get my washbag out of the overhead locker.” Harte recalls seeing Molenaar dithering halfway down the aisle. “There was plenty of panic,” Harte says, “but for some reason, Rob seemed to be taking his time. I remember someone shouting to him, ‘The wing’s burning. Come on, get off the fucking plane!’”

“I was stood with (goalkeeper) Nigel Martyn,” Molenaar says. “All he said was, ‘Honestly, we’ve struck it very lucky here’ “I wanted to make sure my wife-to-be knew I was OK,” Molenaar says. “I had to tell her before she heard about it somewhere else because otherwise, she’d be up all night, wondering if we were OK.

Molenaar took a trip on a similar aircraft to his home in the Netherlands, simply to prove to himself that the average journey was entirely safe.

“It was something I needed to do,” Molenaar says. “The emotion of it and everything else, you didn’t want it to affect the rest of your life. But when I think about it, I know we were lucky. I was calm at the time, too calm really, but in those seconds it didn’t stop me thinking it could be the end for us. And if you ask me, I can’t tell you a single thing about the game at West Ham. Because I’ve never thought about it.”

The last 25 years

Robert married his beautiful wife Karin on 5th June 1998 just 10 weeks after the crash

Robert stayed at Leeds United until 2000. He moved to Bradford City until in 2003.

Then RBC Roosendaal until retiring from his playing career in 2007.

In 2012 Robert began his football managerial career.

Robert is currently Manager of NAC Breda




Robert and Karin enjoy family life with their two sons and their daughter.

Jeroen is 23 years old, Niels is 21 and Iris is 19


Message to the aircrew