Netherlands World Cup squad: Goalkeepers
While there are several positions in the Netherlands starting XI which have been held by one player over the last year or so, one which has been held by various shot stoppers.
The decline of the Oranje’s first choice keeper in the 2010 World Cup final, Maarten Stekelenburg, has been so great that he wasn’t even considered for the squad for the tournament in Brazil. Meanwhile, his deputy, Kenneth Vermeer, has fallen out of favour at Ajax and been cast aside from the national team as well.
With the previous main goalkeepers out of the squad, we look at those who have made the trip to Brazil.
Jasper Cillessen started this season in the second tier of Dutch football, the Jupiler League. Ten months on he is the number one goalkeeper for the Dutch national team and yet it’s far from controversial. It illustrates what an undisputed goalkeeping talent Cillessen is.
After moving to Ajax from N.E.C. in 2011 it took two years for Frank de Boer to give the man from Groesbreek a chance, resulting in a role as goalkeeper of Jong Ajax in the beginning of the season. But as soon as regular goalie Kenneth Vermeer slipped up, Cillessen took his chance. The 25-year-old impressed in the Champions League and only conceded four goals in five starts for Ajax, while Vermeer conceded four in his only match, albeit away against Barcelona.
In the Eredivisie a similar pattern occurred. Cillessen conceded 13 in 25 matches, a whole lot better than the 15 in 10 of Vermeer. Cillessen finished the season as the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets (14) and highest save percentage (84%) in the Eredivisie. But to solely explain Cillessen’s impact by numbers wouldn’t do him justice.
While he still needs to improve the footballing aspect of his game he has shown that he has top notch reflexes, is a presence in his own box and seems as calm and composed as you’d hope from a keeper.
He may not have the flashy looks of ‘Gigi Buffon’ or the sheer agility of Iker Casillas, but Cillessen excels in solidness and adds the occasional game in which he looks unbeatable. Maarten Stekelenburg might have always appeared as the heir of Van der Sar’s throne, from the looks of it Jasper Cillessen is the natural fit.
It is up to him to now claim that crown as not only the best goalkeeper in the Netherlands, but also as one of the best on the continent.
The list of Dutch youth players who joined the ranks of English clubs is endless. Unfortunately, so is the list of failures. Tim Krul is one of the few exceptions.
The Den Haag born had a tough task when he came to Newcastle aged 15, being dubbed the successor of Shay Given. But instead of biding his time, he impressed making his debut as an 18-year-old against Palermo, keeping a clean sheet in the UEFA Cup tie (0-1). After loan spells at Falkirk and Carlisle, he returned to Newcastle to fight for the spot Shay Given left due to his departure to Manchester City.
And in 2010, still only 22, he made the starting place between the posts his, fending off competition from long-time servant at Newcastle Steve Harper. Four years on, he is the undisputed number one for the Magpies. Now 26, he impresses through his physique and holds his nerve in the most hectic situations. A particular highlight came in 2013/14 as his 14 saves against Tottenham Hotspur denied the Lilywhites a goal and ensured his side scraped a 1-0 victory.
Krul is rather wasteful in throwing and kicking out the ball, a reason why Louis van Gaal doesn’t favour him for the number one spot at the moment. But in the 6’4″ shot stopper, he has a very reliable second choice keeper who has proven he can rise to the occasion.
Michel Vorm’s career has been one with bursts. As a 23-year-old, he managed to become the first goalkeeper of FC Utrecht in 2006 and it’s an understatement to say that the Utrecht youth academy graduate impressed.
An athletic figure, Vorm conceded only 42 goals in 33 matches and with him in goal, his side reached the final of the UEFA Cup play-offs, only to be knocked out by FC Groningen, lead by an unstoppable Luis Suarez.
He was voted his club’s player of the year in 2006-07 , but instead of progressing, Vorm’s development came to a halt. The four years that followed saw a slightly complacent goalkeeper playing his games while obviously having more talent than he showed.
It is the talent that Swansea identified and saw him make his move to the Premier League in 2011. And it was in Wales where he rediscovered his hunger, becoming one of the best signings of the season in the English top tier.
Despite his size – he stands at 6 feet tall – he managed to keep his own in the physically demanding competition and three years on, he is still one of the first names on the paper. Injuries have plagued the Dutchman over the years, but when Vorm is in goal you can expect incredible reflexes and a solid overall performances.
Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in the IJsselstein-born, and at the age of 30 it seems that there is still an extra step possible for Vorm. And if a proven identifier of talent such as his former manager Brendan Rodgers thinks he is good enough, who are we to think he can’t be perform at the highest level?