He is PSV Eindhoven’s Wonderkid, and possibly the biggest talent Netherlands have produced in recent years. We take a closer look at Memphis Depay.
- By Michael Bell
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PSV Eindhoven may have lost a number of talented players in the summer, including Kevin Strootman, Jeremain Lens, and Dries Mertens, but their loss has been eased by the emergence of Memphis Depay.
The winger has been rising through the clubs youth ranks over the past few years, but is now a first choice under new coach Philip Cocu, and is the star of a new PSV era.
Things have not been plain sailing for Depay so far, with family issues, and his own attitude nearly stalling his career before it even got started.
Born in the Moordrecht, just outside Rotterdam in 1994, Memphis was the son of a Ghanaian father, and Dutch mother. However his parents divorced when he was only four years old, with the youngster living with his mum.
His troubled family life left a mark on the player, who joined Sparta Rotterdam at the age of nine. Coaches at the club found Depay to have a problem with authority, and found it hard keep him under control. They observed that Depay had no idea how to behave around others.
In 2006, PSV came in for the then 12 year old, with Sparta believing the move would be the best idea for both parties, and Memphis moved to Eindhoven. At such a young age it was difficult to move away from his mother, and move in with a foster family.
Depay showed no interest in school, and clashed with his new coaches in Eindhoven, while the growing interest in rap music was a growing concern for the club.
Despite his troubles, Depay’s talent was never in doubt, and he showed remarkable skills, and physique for someone his age. PSV assigned a coach called Joost Leenders to assist the youngster of the pitch, and his influence helped Depay to grow into the player he is today.
Leenders helped keep Depay on track, and stopped him from walking out on PSV when he was playing with the youth side under the often critical coach Henk Fraser. Depay had reportedly ran to the train station, ready to return to Rotterdam after a row with Fraser, but he was convinced to stay after a call from Leenders.
One day after his 15th birthday, Depay faced further off field trauma, when his grandfather died. The two were very close, and he was always present at Depay’s matches, becoming a father figure in the absence of his actual dad.
After this, Depay began to grow as a person, getting himself an agent, who would help control his off field altercations, and he signed a contract with PSV at 16.
A year later he was offered the chance to train with the first team, under coach Fred Rutten, who took him on a pre-season training camp to Spain. After impressing he gets his opportunity in a KNVB tie against VVSB, with the 17 year old netting twice in a 8-0 win.
Rutten was then sacked by PSV, but new interim coach Phillip Cocu was prepared to give Depay further opportunities in the first team. He repaid this faith with three goals and an assist in eight games, impressing many with his performances.
However Cocu was not ready to take over the reigns full time, and Dick Advocaat came in as coach last season. Advocaat prefered Belgian assist machine Dries Mertens for the left hand side position, and although Depay trained with the first team, he played most of his games in the reserves.
However instead of going back to his own ways of confronting his coaches, Depay instead stayed calm, and worked hard on the training field. He even hired a nutritionist to help him with his diet, and someone to control his finances. With the youngster having an eye for expensive designer items, this move showed his maturity.
It was also last season, that the winger decided to drop Depay from his shirt, and play with Memphis printed instead. The reason was that Depay is his father’s name, and with the Ghanaian hardly in his life, he decided to drop the name, because it did not matter to him.
The player’s patience, and hard work paid off, as in the summer, Dries Mertens left for Napoli, and Advocaat was replaced by Cocu, the man who gave him his chances in the team originally.
Depay is the face of the new, and young PSV, who along with the likes of Zakaria Bakkali, Jurgen Locadia, Adam Maher, and Karim Rekik started the Eredivisie season as favourites for many.
The now 19 year old started the season on fire, as he netted an incredible 30 yard strike against Zulte Waregem to put his side into the Champions League play-off, which they eventually lost to AC Milan.
His reputation as a dead ball specialist is also growing, with many comparing his incredible free-kick ability with that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s.
Eredivisie defence’s fear the attacker, who has a shoot on sight policy when he cuts in from the left hand side and a thunderbolt of a right foot. His low centre of gravity, and acceleration, combined with his impressive physique for someone so small, makes him a perfect winger.
In the Europa League match with Chornomorets, one PSV needed to win after losing their opening tie, Depay netted the opener with a great strike, and set up Florian Jozefzoon for the winner. One the plane back to Netherlands, it was announced that Depay had been called up by Louis van Gaal for the senior Netherlands squad.
Although he only made a two minute cameo appearance at the end of the 2-0 win over Turkey, it was a sign of the progress that Depay had made.
From Sparta Rotterdam bad boy, Depay has grown into a leading PSV player, and a Netherlands international. Where he goes from here will all depend on the players attitude.
If he keeps the demon’s between his ears under control, Depay could take the world by Storm!
The man himself told ELF Voetbal recently, “Instead of blaming other’s for my errors, i was looking at myself. I struggled, but have come out on top”