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Van Der Vaart

Date of birth : 1983-02-11
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Heemskerk, Netherlands
Nationality : Dutch
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-06-14

Rafael Ferdinand van der Vaart (born 11 February 1983) is a Dutch footballer who currently plays for La Liga club Real Madrid and the Netherlands national team. His preferred position is central midfield as playmaker but is capable of operating on both sides of the midfield. Van der Vaart began his career at Ajax's famous youth academy and worked his way into the first team debuting as a 17-year-old. He switched to Bundesliga side Hamburg before moving on to La Liga club Real Madrid.

Once one of the most highly-rated players in Dutch football, Van der Vaart finds himself marooned in Spain at Real Madrid. While the midfielder may have been happy to fight for his place amid a flood of new star signings in the summer, a failure to displace those big-money buys means he is struggling for game time in La Liga.

Van der Vaart will need first team football if he is to be an important player in South Africa, which means there is every chance he could be on the move in January - especially if he remains eligible to play in the Champions League for another club. He lost his place in the Holland team for the final two qualifiers in September, having to come off the bench, and unless he starts playing regularly he may struggle to even get in the 23.

A product of Ajax's famous youth academy, Van der Vaart made his debut for the Amsterdam club in the 1999-2000 season, aged 17, in a 1-1 draw with FC Den Bosch. Much of his early career was blighted by a series of knee injuries which saw him spend several months out of the first team. He made an average of only 23 appearances a season in five years with Ajax before leaving the club in the summer of 2005. From Ajax he headed to the Bundesliga with Hamburg, a surprising move for a player who had been linked with much bigger clubs. He helped Hamburg to three successful seasons, qualifying for the UEFA Cup and being named the club's skipper, before he got the big move that was always expected. He moved to Real in the summer of 2008 and despite a strong start he lost his place in the second half of the campaign and must surely move on again.

He made his international bow against Andorra in 2001 but was unlucky at both Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup as selection and fitness issues limited his involvement. But he did get great credit for his performances at Euro 2008 as Holland entertained, even if they did not make it past the quarter-finals.

Strengths: A versatile midfielder, good shooting, set piece specialist and a match-winner.
Weaknesses: Suspect in the air.

Career high: Named the 2003 European Young Player of the Year.
Career low: Being left without a squad number at the start of the 2009-10 season with Real Madrid when told he was surplus to requirements.

Style: A versatile player who can play anywhere across the midfield and has also played as a striker, Van der Vaart has a fine range of passing and is respected as a goalscoring midfielder.

Quotes: "He has taken a big risk. Though Rafael has had signs he will play, nothing is guaranteed after what went on in pre-season. He's made his choice, but will he even play in his favoured position? At Madrid he is just one more player." Holland coach Bert Van Marwijk on the player's decision to stay at the Bernabeu.

Trivia: His wife, Sylvie, has claimed that the player's legs are too heavy and they cannot sleep in the same bed. "It's just as well," she says. "His legs are heavy. If I get under them I can't get out."

Soccernet says: Van der Vaart certainly has the ability to be a destructive player for Holland in South Africa, but his chances of achieving that level of success are in doubt without first-team football.


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