Wout Weghorst may not play many minutes for the Netherlands, but he remains extremely important to the team. Source: Imago Images
Wout Weghorst may not play many minutes for the Netherlands, but he remains extremely important to the team. Source: Imago Images

Wout Weghorst – The Dutch supersub discovered through a newspaper article

EURO OlyBet 10.07.2024

Just as towering centers in basketball haven’t gone out of style, top-level football still has room for extra-tall strikers. One such player is Wout Weghorst, who helped the Netherlands reach the Euro semifinals. Though not as tall as Jan Koller or Peter Crouch, his 197 cm height makes him just as noticeable as the legendary Czech or the robot-dancing Englishman.

It’s worth noting that while the 31-year-old Dutchman has received much praise for his performances in the Euros, he has only scored one goal. However, that goal was crucial, as his first touch in the 83rd minute of the opening match secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory for the Netherlands against Poland.

Interestingly, this goal set a record. It took Weghorst two minutes and 18 seconds to score after coming off the bench, making him the fastest substitute scorer in the history of the Euros for the Netherlands.

He is still four goals shy of another record. The most goals scored as a substitute for the Netherlands is held by Pierre van Hooijdonk with 10, while Weghorst currently has seven. Among active players, Donyell Malen leads with eight goals after scoring twice in the round of 16 against Romania in this year’s Euros.

Weghorst helps Depay

Weghorst is a strong weapon for the Netherlands despite his limited minutes on the pitch. He has never started a match in this year’s tournament and has played a total of 89 minutes, with his longest stint being one full half in the quarterfinal against Turkey, where his involvement helped turn the game in favor of his homeland.

Unlike Koller and Crouch, who were pure target-men, Weghorst is more versatile. Despite his size, he can drop deeper to link up the play. He also has a high work rate and willingly presses opponents.

Dutch football experts have pointed out that one of the biggest advantages of using Weghorst is that his presence allows Memphis Depay to have more freedom. When head coach Ronald Koeman sends Weghorst onto the field, Depay is relieved of the responsibility of holding up the ball and can instead focus on creating plays and has more room to move around, making the team’s performance smoother and more dangerous as they chase their second Euro title.

And besides, if there’s ever a need to flood the box with crosses, the 197 cm tall striker is a great target, isn’t he?

A late bloomer

Weghorst, who turns 32 in early August, has had anything but a straightforward path to top-level football. He moved to the amateur club Vriezenveen DETO at the age of 18.

DETO’s former chairman, Corné van het Laar, recalled to the Dutch National Broadcaster NOS that Weghorst came to their attention through a regional newspaper article. “We read that a tall striker of almost two meters scored one goal after another at a club called NEO. That caught our attention and we decided to go and have a look. We sat down with Wout and his parents quite quickly after that and sealed the deal.”

Van het Laar said that Weghorst was drawn to DETO’s offer of individualized development. Coach Anton Wennemers, who was with the club at the time, recognized Weghorst’s talent immediately, noting his hard work rubbed off on his teammates.

One of those teammates, Mathijn Schepers, said, “Wout gave his all in every game and demanded the same from others. We only trained three times a week, but he also did individual sessions. Nutrition was very important to him. I remember once we were traveling for an away game, and he brought his own pasta because he needed proper athlete food.”

Schepers noted that while Weghorst often kept to himself, he was almost maniacal about training and improving. “In retrospect you can say that he was on a mission all that time.”

Good scoring spells

Weghorst quickly rose to become DETO’s top striker, scoring only eight goals but impressing professional clubs with his physique and strength. After one season at DETO, he moved to Willem II in the Eredivisie.

But he never played for Willem II in the top league, which is why he left to the second strongest league in Holland. After two seasons there playing for Emmen, he signed with top-flight club Heracles Almelo a little before his 22nd birthday.

Two successful seasons with Heracles, where he played a key role in the club’s first European competition qualification, led to a move to AZ Alkmaar, a clear step up in his career.

It’s fair to say that AZ and German side Wolfsburg are the only clubs where Weghorst has shown his qualities as a scorer. He has at least one goal per two league matches for both clubs, scoring 31 goals in 60 matches for AZ and 59 goals in 118 matches for Wolfsburg.

But as he’s shown in this year’s Euros, Weghorst has never really been a goal machine. His value lies in much more. Besides, players don’t end up at Manchester United for just having nice haircuts and colorful boots. They need to be good footballers.

And that, Weghorst certainly is!


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