Wesley Sneijder

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Wesley Sneijder
Wesley2012.JPG
Sneijder with Netherlands in 2012
Personal information
Full name Wesley Sneijder[1]
Date of birth (1984-06-09) 9 June 1984 (age 30)
Place of birth Utrecht, Netherlands
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[2]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Galatasaray
Number 10
Youth career
1991–2002 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2007 Ajax 126 (43)
2007–2009 Real Madrid 52 (11)
2009–2013 Internazionale 76 (13)
2013– Galatasaray 50 (18)
National team
2000–2001 Netherlands U17 6 (2)
2001–2002 Netherlands U19 8 (3)
2003 Netherlands U21 1 (0)
2003– Netherlands 111 (28)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 8 November 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 November 2014

Wesley Sneijder (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɛs.li ˈsnɛi̯.dər] ( ); born 9 June 1984)[3] is a Dutch professional footballer who plays for the Turkish club Galatasaray and the Netherlands national team.[4] He was named UEFA midfielder of the season and one of the three best midfielders in the world for 2010 by FIFA. A product of the AFC Ajax Academy, he previously played for Ajax, with whom he won seven trophies and was awarded the Johan Cruijff Award in 2004. He was sold to Real Madrid for €27 million in 2007, winning La Liga in his first season with the club and later being sold to Internazionale for €15 million. At Inter, he won Serie A, the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, and two Coppa Italia. After being sold to Galatasaray for €7.5 million in 2013, he helped the club win the Süper Lig in his first season, following with the capture of the Turkish Super Cup, after a 1–0 win against rivals Fenerbahçe.

Sneijder previously represented various youth squads for the Netherlands. He is now a regular player for the Dutch national team, making his debut in April 2003 at the age of 18, and representing his country at the 2006, 2010 (where the Netherlands were defeated 1–0 in the final) and 2014 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Football Championships. Individually, he was awarded the 2010 Bronze Boot, the 2010 Silver Ball, and included in the team of the tournament for Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, as well as named man of the match for six out of eleven games played by the Oranje at these two tournaments.[5] The Dutch national team had never lost a game in which Sneijder scored until 12 November 2014, in a friendly match vs. Mexico.

Club career[edit]

Sneijder (second from left, with Urby Emanuelson, Maarten Stekelenburg, Zdeněk Grygera, and John Heitinga) played for Ajax from 1991–2007.

Wesley Sneijder was born on 9 June 1984 in Utrecht into a football family: his father was a player, his older brother Jeffrey played for a football team, and his younger brother Rodney plays for RKC Waalwijk.

Ajax[edit]

Sneijder started his career in AFC Ajax's famous youth academy. Following his older brother's footsteps, he signed for Ajax, initially on trial but subsequently impressed enough to be signed on a permanent basis. He first made the bench as an unused substitute for Ajax in a 2–0 win at SBV Excelsior on 22 December 2002 when manager Ronald Koeman, troubled by an injury-filled squad, called him up, advised by Danny Blind, the then-coach of the Ajax youth squad. On 2 February 2003, Sneijder made his official Ajax debut against Willem II in a 6–0 win.[6] He quickly established himself in the first team, starting in the Champions League quarter-final match against A.C. Milan on 23 April 2003.[7]

On 5 March 2003, Sneijder scored his first goal for Ajax in a 4–1 win over FC Groningen in the KNVB Cup.[8] On 13 April, he scored his first Eredivisie goal against NAC Breda in a 3–0 win.[9] He scored three further league goals in wins against Roda JC,[8] RKC Waalwijk[8] and De Graafschap.[8] The following season, he scored nine league goals[8] as Ajax won the 2003–04 Eredivisie title.[10] Sneijder's performances saw him awarded the Johan Cruijff Prijs for the season's best young player in the Netherlands.

On 14 September 2005, he scored his first Champions League goal in a group match against AC Sparta Praha.[11] Ajax qualified for the knockout stage, with Sneijder scoring again in a 4–2 win over FC Thun.[12]

On 7 May 2006, Sneijder was in the starting line-up for Ajax in the KNVB Cup final, setting up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's opening goal in a 2–1 win over PSV at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam.[citation needed]

During the 2006–07 season, Sneijder scored 18 goals in the Eredivisie and 20 goals overall.[8] On 6 May 2007, Sneijder played for Ajax in the final of the KNVB Cup as the team defeated AZ on a penalty shootout.[13]

On 12 August 2007, Ajax agreed to sell Sneijder to Real Madrid for 27 million, according to the club's website, making him the second most expensive Dutch football player.

Real Madrid[edit]

Sneijder was the second of three Dutchmen to sign for Real Madrid 2007–08 season, joining Royston Drenthe and Arjen Robben. He also was given the number 23, which had been previously worn by David Beckham for four seasons at Real. In his first La Liga match for Real, he scored the winner in the Madrid Derby against Atlético Madrid. On the second matchday, he scored two goals against Villarreal CF, one of them on a direct free-kick. Sneijder capped a fine first season in Spain by hitting a stunning free kick in the last game of the season against Levante UD at the Santiago Bernabéu, taking his goal tally to nine in the La Liga season, a season which also saw Real retain their league title.

Sneijder with Real Madrid

On 3 August 2008, Sneijder was stretchered off in the pre-season friendly at Arsenal with a suspected cruciate ligament injury after a collision with Abou Diaby. Sneijder had an MRI which confirmed the extent of the injury to be not as bad as first feared. It was expected that he would be out for at least three months.[14] He managed, however, to recover in time and was included in the starting XI for the Champions League clash against Juventus in Turin.

On 2 September 2008, AS reported that after Robinho's departure to Manchester City for €42 million, Sneijder would now be Real Madrid's new number 10.[15] One day later, Real Madrid confirmed on their website that Sneijder would wear 10. His previous number, 23, was taken over by his fellow Dutchman and former Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart,[16] whose preferred number is 23.[citation needed]

Internazionale[edit]

2009–10[edit]

Sneijder playing for Inter in 2010

On 27 August 2009, Sneijder was bought by Internazionale from Real Madrid for a reported fee of 15 million.[17][18] He was given the number 10 shirt and made his debut a day after he signed the contract, making an immediate impact by being on the winning side in the Milan Derby (4–0) against A.C. Milan.[19] On 3 October 2009, he scored his first goal in the 92nd minute against Udinese in a 2–1 win.[20][21] His second goal was scored on 24 October 2009 against Catania, directly from free kick, and he scored his first Champions League goal for Inter in a dramatic 2–1 group stage win against Dynamo Kyiv in the 89th minute. His next goal was also scored off a hard-swerving free kick in a Coppa Italia game against Livorno.

On 9 January 2010, he scored two stunning free kicks against Siena in the game which Inter won 4–3. On 24 January, he received a straight red card in the Milan derby. On 6 April, Sneijder scored a free kick against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League quarter-final in the sixth minute, to give Inter a 2–0 aggregate win. On 20 April, he scored Inter's equalising goal during their Champions League semi-final first leg against defending champions FC Barcelona. He leveled the game by firing in right-footed from a Diego Milito pass. Inter went on to win the game 3–1 and the tie 3–2 on aggregate. Sneijder was given the nickname "The Sniper" by the media for his ability to deliver perfect passes and score from impressive distances.[22]

On 22 May, Inter won the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich by a score of 2–0. Both goals were scored by Diego Milito, with Sneijder supplying the assist for the first goal.[23] The Champions League was Inter's third trophy of the 2009–10 season after winning the Coppa Italia and Serie A titles.

2010–11[edit]

On 21 August 2010, Inter started the 2010–11 season by winning the 2010 Italian Super Cup with a 3–1 win against Roma.[24] On 26 August, Sneijder was named by UEFA as the best club midfielder of the 2009–10 Champions League.[25] The day after, at Monaco's Stade Louis II, Inter lost to UEFA Europa League winners Atlético Madrid in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup.[26] He scored his first goal of the season in a 2–2 draw against FC Twente in the Champions League on 14 September, and followed that up with another goal in Inter's second game against Werder Bremen in a 4–0 win at the San Siro on 29 September.[27][28] On 26 October, Sneijder was shortlisted for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or award, which Barcelona's Lionel Messi won.[29] On 28 October, Sneijder signed a five-year contract extension with Inter, tying him to the club until 2015.[30] Inter finished second in Group A of the Champions League and were drawn against Bayern Munich (whom they had beaten in the previous season's final) in the round of 16. In the first leg, Sneijder and Inter were uninspired and lost 1–0 to a late Mario Gómez goal at the San Siro.[31] On 15 March 2011, Sneijder helped Inter turn it around scoring in the 63rd minute leading to a 3–2 win (3–3 on aggregate, Inter progressing on away goals)[32] at the Allianz Arena,[33] booking a place in the quarter-final against Germany's Schalke 04.[34] The first leg of that quarter-final ended 5–2 to Schalke. Sneijder also played in the second leg of the tie but could not prevent his team from losing 2–1 and 7–3 on aggregate.

Galatasaray[edit]

Sneijder (left) with Didier Drogba playing for Galatasaray in 2013

After reportedly falling out of favour with Inter due to contract renewal issues, Sneijder agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish club Galatasaray on 20 January 2013 for a fee of €7.5 million.[35] Thousands of Galatasaray fans welcomed the Dutch international at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport as soon as Sneijder's exact arrival time was announced by the club on their official website.[36] Sneijder signed the official contract on 21 January at the Türk Telekom Arena, home of Galatasaray. During the press conference, regarding the questions about Gala legend Gheorghe Hagi, Sneijder said, "He was a legend, and I want to become a legend."[37] Later, he appeared on the club's official TV station Galatasaray TV, where he answered several questions about his transfer to Galatasaray and personal life. He also sent out a message addressing the Galatasaray fans: "Thank you for the support. I'm really proud, and I will make you guys even more proud. I'm happy to be here, and I can't wait to play my first game for you guys."[38] On 27 January, Sneijder made his debut, coming on as a substitute in a 2–1 win against rivals Beşiktaş.[39] Sneijder received a warm reception when he replaced Umut Bulut. He scored his first goal on 25 February in a 4–2 home win against Orduspor, where he produced a finesse shot from the edge of the box, turning the game back on for the home side as Galatasaray were down by two goals.[40] On 9 April 2013, Sneijder scored Galatasaray's second goal in a 3–2 win over his former club Real Madrid in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.[41] On 5 May 2013, Galatasaray beat Sivasspor 2–1 to win the 2012–13 Süper Lig, this gave Sneijder a league title in a fourth different country.[42]

After using the number 14 shirt in his debut season with Galatasaray, Sneijder was given the number 10 shirt previously worn by Felipe Melo for the 2013–14 Süper Lig season following a squad number reshuffle. On 1 December 2013, when Galatasaray drew with Kasımpaşa Spor Kulübü,[43] Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini, in response to a question "where is Sneijder?" asked by the reporters during a post-match interview, answered "Sneijder has left and I do not know where he has gone",[44] while Galatasaray's official website had earlier informed the media on the reason for Sneijder's leave. This conflict between what the website and Mancini had stated created rumours that Sneijder would leave in the January 2014 transfer departure.

On 11 December 2013, Sneijder scored a late winning goal against Juventus in a 1–0 UEFA Champions League win to qualify Galatasaray for the knockout phase.[45] On 2 February 2014, Sneijder scored a hat-trick in Süper Lig encounter against Bursaspor in a 6–0 win.[46]

On 6 April 2014, he scored his first derby goal against rivals Fenerbahçe, in a 1–0 home win.[47] On 7 May 2014, Sneijder played a major part in the Turkish Cup final against Eskişehirspor, scoring the only goal of the game in the 70th minute and receiving the Man of the Match award for his performance.[48]

After Sabri Sarıoğlu was stripped of captainship under the appointment of Cesare Prandelli, Sneijder became the first (and currently only) non-Turkish club captain for Galatasaray.[49]

International career[edit]

Sneijder (right) with Arjen Robben training for the Netherlands

Sneijder made his debut for the Netherlands under-21 side against the Czech Republic on 28 March 2003.[50] His first game with the senior Dutch side was against Portugal on 30 April that same year[51] when he became the eighth-youngest player to play for the Netherlands in the first team's history.[citation needed]

Euro 2004[edit]

Sneijder reached the UEFA Euro 2004 semi-finals with the Netherlands. He began the competition mainly on the bench, and was subbed into two group stage matches: his team's first match against Germany and their third match against Latvia. He had also contributed two goals in the qualifying tournament.

2006 World Cup[edit]

Sneijder (left) with Rafael van der Vaart

Sneijder started all four games for the Netherlands at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He received one of the record 16 yellow cards doled out during the infamous Round of 16 clash with Portugal (titled the "Battle of Nuremberg") after pushing the Portuguese midfielder Petit to the ground during a brawl between Portuguese and Dutch players; Portugal went on to win 1–0.

Euro 2008[edit]

In the build-up to UEFA Euro 2008, Sneijder scored a free kick in a friendly against Wales on 31 May, making it his second strike from a direct free kick in a row. The game ended 2–0 with a goal from fellow Real Madrid teammate Arjen Robben.

Sneijder marked his 24th birthday in style by scoring one of the goals of the tournament; the second goal in the 31st minute of the Euro 2008 match against the World Cup champions, Italy. Following Giovanni van Bronckhorst's goal-line clearance and subsequent run into the Italian half, Sneijder received a headed ball from Dirk Kuyt and volleyed it with an acrobatic strike past Gianluigi Buffon. This brought the score to 2–0 after Ruud van Nistelrooy's opener five minutes prior. The match finished with a 3–0 victory to the Dutch after a third goal was scored by van Bronkhorst after another run by him, following a crucial save from Edwin van der Sar. Sneijder's goal contributed to the Netherlands' first victory over Italy in 30 years, which was the biggest defeat Italy had suffered since Sweden beat them by the same margin in 1983. Many fans and pundits agreed that this goal was one of the best of the tournament. On 13 June, he scored another goal for the Oranje in the Euro 2008 group stage match against France: in the 92nd minute, from outside the box, Sneijder struck the ball into the corner of the net, bouncing off the crossbar on its way in. The match finished 4–1 for the Netherlands. Although the Dutch lost to the Russians in the quarter-final, Sneijder was named in the Team of the Tournament for his strong performances.

2010 World Cup[edit]

Sneijder the day before the Dutch team's departure to South Africa

Sneijder was in the starting line-up for their first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark.[52] Sneijder scored the winning goal in a 1–0 victory over Japan.[53] In the first two matches of the group stage at the FIFA World Cup, he was selected as the man of the match in both of them.[54][55][56] In the Netherlands' round of 16 match against Slovakia, Sneijder scored in a 2–1 victory.[57] He also provided what was at first thought to be an assist for the first goal against Brazil in the quarter-finals, but was later credited with the goal.[58] He then scored the first header of his career direct from a corner and consigned Brazil to a 2–1 defeat, bringing his goal total in the tournament to four. Sneijder was again named man of the match on FIFA's website.[59]

In the semi-final against Uruguay, Sneijder scored in the 70th minute, taking his total in the competition to five, raising him at the time to first place in terms of goals scored, along with Spain's David Villa.[60] The Netherlands won the match 3–2 and progressed to the final. Sneijder was yet again named on FIFA's website as the Budweiser man of the match according to the public online vote.[61] In the World Cup Final, the Dutch lost to Spain 1–0 after extra time, conceding the only goal of the match after 116 minutes to Andrés Iniesta.[62]

Euro 2012[edit]

For UEFA Euro 2012, the Netherlands were in Group B, also known as the group of death, alongside Portugal, Germany, and Denmark. Sneijder was deployed as an attacking midfielder as the Netherlands lost 1–0 and 2–1 to Denmark and Germany, respectively. Against Portugal, they lost again 2–1, with Sneijder playing on the left wing to see the Netherlands have an early exit from Euro 2012.

2014 World Cup[edit]

In August 2012, after the retirement of Mark van Bommel, Sneijder was named as captain of the Netherlands.[63] However, less than a year later he was replaced with Robin van Persie by coach Louis van Gaal.[64]

Sneijder was named by in the Netherlands' squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and made his 100th international appearance in the team's opening match, a 5–1 demolition of world champions Spain on 13 June. In the round of 16, Sneijder scored an 88th minute equaliser as the Netherlands recovered from a 0–1 deficit to overcome Mexico 2–1 in Fortaleza.[65]

In the quarter-final, Sneijder scored the Netherlands' third kick in a 4–3 penalty shootout defeat of Costa Rica.[66] The semi-final match against Argentina was also decided by a shootout, with Sneijder one of two Netherlands players to have his kick saved by Sergio Romero in a 4–2 defeat.[67] Sneijder was originally part of the Dutch starting line-up in the bronze game against Brazil, but he was replaced by Jonathan de Guzmán after an injury during the pre-match warm-up prevented him from playing.

International goals[edit]

Score and Result lists Netherlands' goals first

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Season League Cup Europe Other[nb 1] Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Ajax 2002–03 17 4 2 3 1 0 3 0 0 23 5 2
2003–04 30 9 11 1 0 0 7 1 0 38 10 11
2004–05 30 7 8 3 1 0 7 0 3 1 1 0 41 9 11
2005–06 19 5 5 3 2 1 7 4 2 2 1 0 31 12 8
2006–07 30 18 9 4 1 1 9 1 1 4 2 1 47 22 12
Total 126 43 35 14 5 2 33 6 6 7 4 1 180 58 44
Real Madrid 2007–08 30 9 7 2 0 0 5 0 1 1 0 1 38 9 9
2008–09 22 2 2 2 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 28 2 2
Total 52 11 9 4 0 0 9 0 1 1 0 1 66 11 11
Internazionale 2009–10 26 4 8 4 1 1 11 3 7 41 8 16
2010–11 25 4 6 2 0 2 9 3 2 3 0 1 39 7 11
2011–12 20 4 5 2 0 0 5 0 1 1 1 0 28 5 6
2012–13 5 1 1 0 0 0 3 1 2 8 2 3
Total 76 13 20 8 1 3 28 7 12 4 1 1 116 22 36
Galatasaray 2012–13 12 3 0 4 1 1 16 4 1
2013–14 28 12 7 6 3 1 7 2 1 1 0 0 42 17 9
2014–15 10 3 0 0 0 0 5 0 1 1 0 0 16 3 1
Total 50 18 7 6 3 1 16 3 3 2 0 0 74 24 11
Career total 304 85 71 32 9 6 86 16 22 14 5 3 436 114 102

Statistics accurate as of 12 November 2014.[68]

International[edit]

Netherlands national team
Year Apps Goals
2003 3 2
2004 14 3
2005 3 0
2006 10 0
2007 11 3
2008 10 3
2009 7 1
2010 15 7
2011 7 4
2012 10 1
2013 6 2
2014 15 2
Total 111 28

Statistics accurate as of 13 November 2014.[69]

Style of play[edit]

From his impeccable placement and confirmed ability to score from free kicks, Sneijder earned the reputation as a dead-ball specialist.[70][71] Of short stature, he is quick and strong on the ball, and his passing range is enhanced by his ambidexterity.[72]

Personal life[edit]

Sneijder has been married to Dutch-Spanish actress and presenter Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen since July, 2010; he has a son from a previous, nonmarital relationship.[73] Inspired by his wife and by Inter teammate Javier Zanetti, Sneijder converted to Roman Catholicism[74] and was baptized in Milan.[75]

Sneijder has two brothers: Jeffrey, a former footballer,[76] and Rodney, who plays for RKC Waalwijk. In May, 2008, it was reported that Sneijder had blocked a summer transfer of Rodney to his own club at the time, Real Madrid. Wesley Sneijder said, "Real Madrid wanted him and Rodney was very happy about that. But when I heard [of it], I stopped the discussions. I am not in favour of juniors increasingly going to top clubs. I've told him that he first must make a breakthrough at Ajax".[77][78]

Awards[edit]

In October 2008, Dutch magazine Voetbal International conducted a poll to decide who was the best Dutch free kick taker. Sneijder received an overwhelming 70% of the votes while Robin van Persie came second with 21% and striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was third with 3% of the vote.[79] He was voted as the best player of the 2009–10 season by Goal.com.[80]

Honours[edit]