Vale’s Dutch connections (and how we nearly signed Jaap Stam)

After the signing of Kjell Knop, We look back at Vale’s Dutch signings over the years and how John Rudge once turned down Jaap Stam.

The signing of Kjell Knop makes him the seventh Dutch player to be signed by the club. The others were:

Robin van der Laan (1991-1995): the club’s first “continental” signing and the most influential. van der Laan was converted from a forward to midfield by John Rudge. After an Autoglass Trophy winner’s medal and helping the club to promotion he was sold to Derby County for £475,000 plus Lee Mills. Nowadays he is a coach at Newcastle Town and thankfully recovering from a heart operation.

Nico Jalink (1991-1992): A cultured midfielder but one not suited to the robustness of the English leagues. He failed to settle and left after just one season. However, his sole goal was a memorable effort past England legend Peter Shilton.

Arjan van Heusden (1994-98): A strapping Dutch keeper who was signed for £4,500. However, he failed to dislodge Paul Musselwhite making just 27 appearances. Nevertheless, he did have a hugely successful loan spell at Oxford United and subsequently moved to Cambridge in 1998.

Jermaine Holwyn (1995-1998): Arguably the least successful of the club’s Dutch imports, Holwyn made a memorable entrance in the dramatic 4-4 draw with QPR, scoring an own-goal. He made just six more appearances before leaving.

Rogier Koordes (1997-1999): A £75,000 signing from Telstar, left-sided midfielder Koordes soon found himself vying with Wayne Corden to replace the departed Steve Guppy (an unenviable task). Neither player nailed the role down and Koordes was released after two years with Vale.

Mark Snijders (1997-2000): A cultured Dutch defender who was a regular first-team squad member for several years. He played in the memorable FA Cup tie with Arsenal.

Note: Loan defender Tyrone Loran is NOT included in this list as his nationality was Netherlands Antilles.

And the one that got away…

How Vale turned down Jaap Stam

The full contact website has a fascinating article on Jaap Stam and a little-known Vale connection. Here is a snippet:

Full Contact’s Head of Football Lee Payne was one of the earlier pioneers: leaving English football and Reading in 1990 he signed for Dutch club Veendam where he quickly became a fans’ favorite – indeed the supporters player of the year award became the Lee Payne Trophy.

After five seasons in the Netherlands, and once Lee’s playing career had ended prematurely due to injury, Lee became a scout (and then an agent) and it was of course the Dutch market he immediately turned to.

Recognizing the innate talent of the Dutch players, technical ability and fluency in various positions encourage by the ‘Total Football’ system – but also the financial draw of the English game to the Dutch players – he soon carved out a niche for himself as a talent-spotter.

One of the first players Lee identified was a strapping 20 year old defender playing for Zwolle and he recommended him to Port Vale. Although such a signing would have been well within their financial reach, Port Vale were not moved – and perhaps they would not have been unduly concerned at missing out when they heard later that season (1993) that the defender in question had signed for another fairly small Dutch club, Cambuur.

Maybe even his move in 1996 to PSV Eindhoven did not cause much more than a minor stir – but one would have thought that one or two in the Potteries noticed in 1998 the Dutch transfer record being broken when Manchester United paid £10.6 million to sign Jaap Stam!

Full article here –

Thanks to Tony Boulton for sending this link to OVF.

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