Man Utd transfer target van de Beek was spotted by Arsenal legend Bergkamp at 10, but his mum wanted him to be a farmer – The Sun
AJAX sensation Donny van de Beek is on the verge of a £40million move to Manchester United, according to reports.
The Dutch attacking midfielder, who was once close to joining Real Madrid, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the game, and was a vital cog in the side that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
Last season he continued where he left off from the campaign before that, scoring 10 times in 37 games.
One of his standout performances came in a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, where he scored in the Champions League group tie.
And the 23-year-old would be the first to admit that he couldn't have done it without his mentor, Dennis Bergkamp.
The Arsenal legend spotted the future star's potential when he was youth coach with the Eredivisie giants – and Van de Beek was just 10.
Bergkamp helped mould the playmaker into the player he is today.
But, if his mum had it her way, he would most likely being working on a farm.
THE BOY DON GOOD
Former Ajax boss Frank de Boer, who promoted Bergkamp as his assistant, once said: “Dennis started talking enthusiastically about a talent in his youth team.
“It was a boy who reminded Dennis of himself at that age.
"That was the signal for me to keep an eye on that guy. That was Donny.”
Ruben Jongkind, a former head of talent development at the Ajax academy, also recalled Bergkamp's glowing endorsement.
Jongkind told the Daily Mail: "Bergkamp was the one who saw when he was 10, 'This is going to be a great player.’
"I said, "I didn’t see it, how did you know?"'
A FARM HAND
Today, Van de Beek might be one of Europe's biggest talents. However, if his mum Gerdina had it her way he would be a farmer.
The Holland international is from Nijkerk, an area of the Netherlands that's more famous for agriculture and farming than producing cultured midfielders.
And as a boy he lived on a farm, often helping out with daily chores including making sure live stock were fed.
Gerdina wasn't a fan of sport, and seeing her son climbing trees instead of playing with a ball made her think he was destined for rearing cattle instead of gracing the Johan Cruyff arena.
But father Andre had other ideas, and he signed his son up to play for Veensche Boys.
"After the first training session, he was completely sold and the ball never disappeared from his life," Andre told AjaxShowtime in 2016.
By the time he was 10, Van de Beek had clubs including Utrecht, Feyenoord and PSV clamouring to sign him.
He chose Ajax because his family had season tickets with the club.
HE NEEDED STRENGTH
Immediately, when he arrived at the academy Jongkind knew where Van de Beek had to improve.
"We put him under a system of pretty rigorous physical training. He needed that. He came from farmers," the youth coach said.
"That area of Holland has pretty strong farmers there. But he needed to transfer that to the field.
"He was benefiting from the performance department a lot. We got in people from American Football and from Judo."
A CRUYFF TURN
Dad Andre knew Van de Beek was destined for stardom, when his own footballing idol told him how good a player his son was.
The ambitious father was rendered speechless when Ajax legend Johan Cruyff told him in a meeting about the player's qualities.
"Johan said: 'I know your son, yes,'" Andre revealed.
"That is Donny Van de Beek,"He is good at this and good at that…
"He was able to tell everything. Do you know how strange it is that your idol knows everything about your son? He was able to tell everything down to the smallest detail."
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