Kenny Anderson – the Nederlandse Leeuw with the Lion Rampant on his heart
Born and raised in the Netherlands but with his heart set on wearing the blue of Gordon Strachan’s men, Kenny Anderson is more of a Flower of Scotland than a Tulip from Amsterdam.
The 22-year-old, who plays as a midfielder for Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk was born in the small town of Gorinchem, Netherlands to a Scottish father and Dutch mother.
Although the youngster has never lived in Scotland, he has made himself available for the national team and Under 21 manager Billy Stark is tracking his progress and considered him for the squad ahead of the recent friendly against Hungary, although he didn’t make the final cut.
“I played for the Under 16s and 17s and after that I went and did my own thing and tried to do my best.
“[SFA Performance Director] Mark Wotte got in touch with me and we talked about my plans for this season. I told him I was just looking to play as much as possible. I’ve scored goals and done well so we had some contact about me playing for Scotland. So hopefully one day I’ll be selected for the Scottish team.
“They came over and watched a couple of matches of me in the stadium. I heard that there are a lot of Under 21 players who are now doing well in the Scottish league so I think that’s the reason they didn’t call me up, but I would be glad to play for them.”
Anderson, who describes himself as “a box-to-box midfielder with a good engine who can score goals”, was raised in Holland, but as a youngster made frequent trips to Scotland to visit family on his Dundonian father’s side.
“When I was younger we used to go to Scotland a couple of times a year. We used to go to see my grandma and my family at Christmas, but when I was about eight or nine my grandma passed away so after that we didn’t visit very often.
“But my sister works in Edinburgh now so I go over two or three times a year. I go over for Hogmanay, then in May after the season I always go for a week and, if it’s possible with the schedule, I’ll go during the season to visit my sister and my uncles.”
The 22-year-old is very much in touch with his Scottish roots. He frequently eats haggis when back in Scotland and, like the rest of the country, he even has an opinion on independence.
“Although I don’t keep up to date with the news in Scotland, of course everybody wants independence, but I don’t think it’s wise at this time and in this economy.”
The midfielder would rather focus on football in the Netherlands than politics in Scotland, though, and it is here he is carving out a very bright career for himself.
Anderson was just 10-years-old when he joined RKC and began his ascent through the youth system before making his senior debut last season, although he did leave for a short period in between as he joined Willem II to get more playing time. Since his return, his influence in the team has increased immensely as he has chipped in with four goals and three assists for the side who are fighting for survival in the Eredivisie.
“I started in the youngest side of RKC with the aim of becoming a player in the first-team and after 11 years of hard work I finally reached my goal. So it’s a really good feeling to achieve that.
“I trained for the first-team when I was 18 in my last year as a youth player, but I wasn’t ready to play for the first-team, so I played matches with the youth side.
“Then RKC got promoted to the Eredivisie, but they didn’t have a second squad so I said to them ‘if there’s no chance of playing in the first squad then I’ll go to another team to get minutes’.
“I went to Willem II in the Dutch First Division and I played in the second squad for them. After a year we became champions and I came back to RKC because they had a reserves team again.
“I did well in the reserves, I scored a lot of goals and was important to the squad. Then Erwin Koeman brought me into the first-team around the last six or seven matches.
“After that, I made my debut and then I scored in my first start. This year is my first year as a full senior player.”
Over the course of the campaign, the player has forced his way into the first-team. He has played a huge role in some of the most important games his side have played this season as they have taken points off of perennial giants Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV.
Holding Frank de Boer’s men to a goalless draw in Amsterdam was a particular highlight for Anderson. Apart from the excellent display, it made him a hero amongst his family, who all support Feyenoord.
“At home they are all Feyenoord fans so they were all happy that I did so well, but for me it was just a good experience because it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of and there was a great atmosphere. I think it was a great team performance and I had a great match myself.”
Only a few weeks later, the Waalwijk club came up against Feyenoord and, after 80 goalless minutes, the former Scotland youth player was brought on as RKC looked to steal a home win. With 30 seconds left in injury time, Anderson brought down a cross inside the box and squared to striker Aurelien Joachim who smashed it in to earn a vital three points.
“That was a great moment. I was hoping to start the game but I didn’t, so to come on and be important to the team was great and my brother and the rest of my family were so happy.
Anderson’s importance has only grown since that match. In December he scored both of his side’s goals in the 2-1 win over fellow relegation candidates ADO Den Haag. He opened the scoring early on, sending a header beyond Gino Coutinho. Then, with eight minutes left, he drifted quietly alongside Joachim to create space and latch onto a pass which he lifted expertly over the ADO goalkeeper to secure the points. His benefits to the team can take more subtle forms too, as he displayed in the 2-0 win over PSV. Anderson was there to keep the midfield ticking over as Evander Sno ran riot, with the former Celtic man scoring both goals in the Mandemakers Stadion.
Despite their excellent results against the league’s giants, RKC’s immediate future in the league is uncertain due to their erratic results as they find themselves in the league’s final relegation playoff spot.
However, Anderson has improved consistently over the course of the season and looks to be carving a bright career out for himself. The Eredivisie is a league famous for seeing young players develop and move onto bigger and better things, but the youngster admits he has a long way to go before he can think of making a step up. In many ways, RKC is the perfect club to allow him to blossom further. He has taken his chance in the first-team while Koeman and the players around him provide a nurturing environment.
“They’ve all been through some big things, [Romeo] Castelen and Sno played in the Champions League, Dennis Rommedahl, even though he’s injured, is a guy who has been through it all, also the captain, Sander Duits, tries to help me with stuff.
“For me it’s important to have players around me who can help you in some situations.
“I’m just happy to have a place in the team in the Eredivisie, I have a contract until 2015. I’m just trying to do my best for RKC. If I do well, we’ll see, but just now the focus is on RKC.”
If he continues to develop and improve at this rate in the Netherlands, Anderson will eventually make the step beyond RKC and it won’t be long before he gets the call from the Scotland national team too.