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Bend it like Martin Jol

Stekelenburg

Yesterday Fulham FC announced the signing of the transfer window so far. Neymar is a quality player but wouldn’t suit our beautiful club. In terms of getting the right player at our club at the right time I think the board and specially Martin Jol did a great job.

Maarten Stekelenburg will feel something like a homecoming when arriving at Fulham. After the deadline deal could not be finished in the January window I thought it would be impossible to sign him. Specially when he got his place in the starting eleven back at AS Roma. He stated that joining Jol again was one of the bigger reasons to still join the club as they’ve been working very well together at Ajax. The nice atmosphere around the stadium and the culture which is more close to the Dutch culture will get the best out of his upcoming years at the pitch. Also following the footsteps of one of the best Dutch players ever (Van der Sar) should be the right choice for both club and player.

Stekelenburg is born in Haarlem and started playing football at local clubs Zandvoort ’75 en VV Schoten in nearby towns. His first experience with goalkeeping was an accidental one. The goalie of his team was not present and he gave it a try to keep a clean sheet for his team. He fancied being a goalkeeper that far that he decided to stay in the goal. At the age of 13 he joined Ajax’ famous youth academy of which many players succeeded to professional football.

He made his debut back in 2002 at the age of 20. After some very good seasons at Ajax he also got in the footsteps of former Fulham hero Edwin van der Sar at the National team. Up until now he made 54 appearances in the Dutch squad. At Ajax he played for two years under Martin Jol who gave him his place in the first team back after losing it to Kenneth Vermeer while he was injured. The confidence Jol gave him leaded to finishing the best season in his career during the 2009/2010 campaign. In 2011 he was crowned as player of the year at Ajax before leaving to AS Roma in the summer.

Next to Sneijder and Arjen Robben he was the best player for the Dutch national team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He denied later crowned champions Spain also with some great saves. The World Cup was one of the peaks of his career so let’s hope his next one will be at Craven Cottage. Having a World Cup finalist as our number one will get players and fans moving.

His spell at AS Roma started good with some nice goalkeeping displays in the first season. Last season new coach Zdenek Zeman dropped him to the bench mostly because he was not able to speak Italian. After the the firing of Zeman he got his place back in the first team.

At the age of 30 he is very experienced and focused on getting back in the Dutch National team for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. His footballing skills are very good so that he can definitely give some great backup to our defensive players. Building up Dutch style by passing will bring us more possession and attractive plays on the pitch. Keeping his line clear is also one of his skills. In case of comparing him to some other goalkeepers who are currently playing I think he is better than the likes of Petr Cech and Iker Casillas.

Let’s get the next season started as soon as possible. The club signed some quality players so early in the transfer window so our confidence should rise more than ever. With Berbatov up front and a great couple of midfielders and a very solid back four Stekelenburg will pick some points for the team. In my opinion we could really make an attempt to finish in the top half of the table what can be extended to finish just behind clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool. Future looks very bright at Fulham FC!