Following the Netherland’s straight out whoopin’ of Spain (5-1), my friend and fellow coach, Bri O’Dowd texted me, “It would be interesting to know how many of the Dutch players are products of Ajax Academy.” Well Bri, I looked up twenty of their National Team players and what youth academy they played for. The results are interesting, and some players were at multiple academies, or at a specific academy for a very short time. With that said, it’s difficult to say if a player was “brought up in” or a “product of” a certain academy. For example, Velman joined Ajax one year before signing with their first team. I imagine most of his youth development took place elsewhere, but technically he was part of the Ajax Academy, and surely continued to train with Ajax methodologies once under contract.
Another phenomenon is that some players played so many places before their professional careers, it would be tedious to list. So I have only listed the dominant, or most universally recognizable academy after those players. Although it is interesting that Dirk Kuyt played as a five year old with The Quick Boys, and still visits the club frequently.
Finally, before listing the players and their upbringings, it’s interesting that from the perspective of a coach in the US, we are approached to purchase different Dutch systems to aid our players development. The reason Bri O’Dowd (a UEFA B license holder, former NSCAA teacher/coach, and professional keeper) was curious about the Dutch National Team player origins is because she has coached and directed at US clubs that buy into these programs and preach their methodologies. More recently, I have seen her take a more eclectic approach, and it’s paid off with some of her former youth teams having won national titles.
So which Dutch system is the best?
3 – Stefan de Vrij – Feyenoord
4 – Bruno Martins Indi – Feyenoord
7 – Daryl Janmaat – Feyenoord
8 – Jonathan de Guzman – Feyenoord
9 – Robin Van Persie – Feyenoord
15 – Dirk Kuyt – Feyenoord
16 – Jordy Clasie – Feyenoord
18 – Leroy Fer – Feyenoord
20 – Georginio Wijnaldum – Feyenoord
5 – Daley Blind – Ajax
6 – Nigel de Jong – Ajax
10 – Wesley Sneijder – Ajax
13 – Joel Veltman – Ajax
17 – Jeremain Lens – Ajax
11 – Arjen Robben – Groningen (credits Coerver)
19 – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – De Graafschap
21 – Memphis Depay – PSV
12 – Paul Verhaegh – VVV Venlo, PSV
2 – Ron Vlaar – AZ Alkmaar
14 – Terence Kongolo – SBV Excelsior
As you can see, there are currently nine players on the Dutch National Team from Feyenoord, and five from Ajax, so over half the squad trained with two youth academies. Impressive. All the Dutch systems I have personally used in training have resulted in positive skill building and player development. I am just not sure relying on one approach is adequate anymore. Taking the best from multiple sources can be beneficial, but sometimes confusing for the players, or time restraints don’t allow in depth knowledge of the system. However, it is very apparent that the Dutch systems and their philosophies are working at the highest levels of international football.