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International career (1981–1994)

On the international stage, Rijkaard made his debut for the Netherlands in 1981. He was part of the Dutch side that won Euro 88 with a 2–0 win in the final over the Soviet Union, playing at center-back alongside Ronald Koeman. He won a total of 73 caps and scored 10 goals. Rijkaard also played for the Netherlands during the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups and at Euro 92.

Rijkaard was involved in an unsavoury incident with Rudi Völler when West Germany played the Netherlands in the 1990 World Cup. Rijkaard was booked for a bad tackle on Voller, as Rijkaard took up position for the free kick he spat in Völler's hair. Völler complained to the referee and was booked as well. From the resulting free kick, Voller then dived, according to himself to avoid a collision with Dutch Keeper Hans Van Breukelen, while others, notably Rijkaard and Van Breukelen, saw it as a dive in hopes for a penalty. Van Breukelen was angry at this but Rijkaard again confronted Völler by twisting his ear and stamping on his foot. Both Völler and Rijkaard were sent off but Rijkaard again spat in Völler's hair as they left the pitch and was rumoured to have repeated this on the touchline. The German press nicknamed him "Llama" for his spitting.

At Euro 92 Rijkaard scored a late equalizer for the Netherlands in a 2–2 draw with Denmark at the semi final stage but the Dutch went out on penalties. He made his final appearance for the Netherlands in the 3–2 defeat against eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

 
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