Fulham striker Collins John was today hailed as one of the most mature players in a new generation of Dutch stars.
The Fulham striker is just 18 years old but already has shown his potential with four Premiership goals from five appearances since arriving from FC Twente in January.
John ignored widespread opinion at home that he was too young to move to England and will be joined here this summer by another two of Holland’s potential future greats.
Arjen Robben is moving to Chelsea from PSV and Robin van Persie is switching from Feyenoord to Arsenal.
Both attacking players are two years older than John but Holland Under-19 coach Wim van Zwam claims they have not matured as quickly.
He said: “Everybody in the Netherlands was amazed when John made the switch to play for Fulham and said that he was too young.
“But he knows what he is doing. He is mature for his age and that is the difference between him and most of the Dutch players.
“We never win youth championships because we are always about two years behind big European countries.
“Most of our players reach their best when they are around 22 years old.
“But John is different. He played for the Under-19s when he was 17 and is used to being the youngest player.
“He is different to Van Persie, who is a very gifted player but less mature, and is the youngest of a new generation of players from Holland.”
Van Zwam thinks John’s childhood experience of fleeing war-torn Liberia with his mother and then settling in Holland must have forced him to grow up fast.
Fulham manager Chris Coleman is sensibly treating the striker carefully to allow him to develop fully and may not start him at Portsmouth tomorrow.
But Van Zwam is convinced John has the potential to become Holland’s first-choice goalscorer. He said: “He is strong and fast, good with his head and both feet and has an eye for goal.
“I think he can still grow as a player and is a potential centre-forward for Holland in the next few years.
“If he continues to develop himself in the way he has done, he should get there.”