The BBC Radio 5 Live are airing a program tonight centred around the myriad factors which can obstruct a player’s path to the top of the game, and former Everton winger Andy Van der Meyde is one of the players featured.
The first time I saw Van der Meyde play it was for Ajax during the annual Amsterdam Tournament in pre-season, and he must have been a teenager then. I can’t remember which opposition he was facing, but he was absolutely untouchable. As a throwback winger – playing wide, taking players on, getting to the by-line – he was as promising as anyone else of that generation. Every time he got the ball in that particular game, there was palpable anticipation from the crowd – the kind of which is inspired by very few players.
It’s such same how his career will be remembered. Of course, any CV which includes Inter Milan and Everton shouldn’t be considered underwhelming, but within the context of the Dutchman’s talent that’s exactly what it is. He was someone who should have been a difference-maker at the highest level.
Obviously it didn’t help that his body was so malleable, but the revelations which have surfaced about him recently – drugs, women, alcohol – are a reminder of how having the wrong sort of personality can seriously stifle the development of a career and how it can accentuate the negatives which can potentially develop within a footballer’s occupation.
A sad story.