Its now ten years since Netherlands U21’s lifted the European Championships with a 4-1 win over Serbia in Groningen. However, what happened to that talented squad that was expected to form the basis of the national team for years to come? Michael Bell takes a look at the player’s that featured in the final.

Boy Waterman

Position: Goalkeeper Age now: 33 Current club: APOEL Caps for Netherlands: 0

Waterman’s career seemed on the up in the summer of 2007 as he not only lifted the Euro championship, but also sealed a move from Heerenveen to AZ Alkmaar only a few weeks before the tournament began. However, he failed to make himself number one at his new club and after loan spells with ADO Den Haag and De Graafschap he joined German side Alemannia Aachen. PSV offered Waterman the chance to prove himself again a year later, but he failed and has since represented Karabukspor and APOEL in Cyprus.

Gianni Zuiverloon

Position: Right-back Age now: 30 Current club: Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa Caps for Netherlands: 0

The full-back was with Heerenveen when Netherlands won the tournament and Zuiverloon was a key performer in Friesland before he was given the chance to impress in England with West Brom. Zuiverloon was a regular in his first two years in England, but then fell out of favour and was sent on loan to Ipswich before a move to Mallorca followed. After only nine appearances for Mallorca he return to the Eredivisie with former club Heerenveen before joining ADO Den Haag. Zuiverloon spent three years in the Hague before leaving last year. He is currently with Spanish Segunda B side Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa.

Erik Pieters

Position: Left-back/centre-back for Oranje U21’s Age now: 28 Current club: Stoke City Netherlands caps: 18

A success story of sorts from the players in this squad, Pieters earned a move from Utrecht to PSV Eindhoven a year after the Euro win, and went on to make 93 Eredivisie appearances for the Dutch giant. A move to Stoke City followed in 2013 followed and Pieters has been a regular in the Premier League since. His performances have left many wondering why he hasn’t managed more than 18 caps.

Arnold Kruiswijk

Position: left-back Age now: 32 Current club: Vitesse Netherlands caps: 0

Kruiswijk’s career never really hit the heights it was expected to when he left Groningen for Anderlecht in 2008. He spent two years in Belgium, but after a loan spell with Roda JC he made a permanent move to Heerenveen. Four years and 81 appearances later he joined Vitesse in 2014. He has become a key player in Arnhem and a fans favourite, that drew headlines last season after finally netting his first league goal of his career. It only took him over 360 matches.

Ryan Donk

Position: Centre-back Age now: 31 Current club: Real Betis Netherlands caps: 0

Donk was a star for Netherlands U21’s at the tournament and played a crucial role with his assist to the 90th minute equaliser in the semi-final against England, which forced extra time. The centre-back, who can also play in midfield was expected to be a star with Barcelona linked, but his time at AZ wasn’t successful and after a disappointing loan with West Brom he moved to Turkey and Kasimpasa. After three years, Donk moved to Galatasaray but after only ten Super Lig appearances he joined Real Betis last summer. He has only been a bit part player in Spain since.

Hedwiges Maduro

Position: Midfielder Age now: 32 Current Club: Unattached Netherlands caps: 18

Maduro went into the U21 Euros with 12 senior caps already under his belt and a reputation as one of the brightest talents in Europe. The midfielder impressed at the tournament, and a year later he swapped Ajax for Valencia.

However, Maduro never lived up to the expectations and failed to impress with Valencia and then Sevilla. A move to PAOK followed in 2014 and then a return to the Eredivisie with Groningen, where he quickly fell out of the first team and was released this summer. A career that promised so much at the start is ending with a whimper.

Otman Bakkal

Position: Midfielder Age now: 32 Current club: Retired Netherlands caps: 1

Bakkal was a key man at the tournament, and in the PSV midfield ten years ago, but he is probably most famous for being the man that Luis Suarez bit during a match with Ajax. After 118 Eredivisie appearances, he fell out of favour in Eindhoven and spent time on loan with Feyenoord. The following summer he moved to Russian side Dynamo Moscow, but only made a handful of appearances before moving permanently to Feyenoord. He barely played during the 2013/14 season and left after one year. He couldn’t find a club to take him on and officially announced his retirement in March 2016 after months of searching.

Daniel de Ridder

Position: Midfielder/winger Age now:33 Current club: Retired Netherlands caps: 0

The experienced member of the Oranje U21 squad, de Ridder was part of the squad that won the tournament the year before. After the tournament De Ridder got started with his new club Birmingham City, having already played for Ajax and Celta Vigo. However, De Ridder couldn’t get going in the Premier League and became a journeyman, who went from Wigan Athletic to Grasshoppers, Heerenveen, RKC Waalwijk and finally SC Cambuur. He couldn’t find a new club after the 2014/15 season.

Royston Drenthe

Position: Winger Age now: 30 Current Club: Retired Netherlands caps: 1

Drenthe came out of the Euros with the world at his feet after sealing a move from Feyenoord to Real Madrid. The winger was going to be in the next big Netherlands star, but he couldn’t live up to expectations in Madrid despite making 46 appearances for the Spanish giants. After leaving Madrid his career and attitude to football plummeted and he had disappointing spells with Everton,  Alania Vladikavkaz, Reading FC, Sheffield Wednesday,  Kayseri Erciyesspor and finally Baniyas. Last season he announced his retirement and stated his intentions to concentrate on his rap career.

Ryan Babel

Position: Winger Age now: 30 Current Club: Besiktas Netherlands caps: 43

Along with Pieters, Babel is the player who has had the most success with his career after the European Championships. He left Ajax for Liverpool after the tournament and made 146 appearances for the Premier League giants, scoring 22 times. He hit a bad patch after leaving Liverpool for Hoffenheim and returned to Ajax for a successful season in 2012. He then went to Turkey with Kasimpasa and the UAE with Al-Ain before rejuvinating his career in a short spell with Deportivo la Coruna. After four goals in 11 games he was snapped up by Besiktas and Babel played a role in the club winning the Turkish Super Lig with five goals in 18 games. Calls are being made for the winger to be recalled to the Netherlands squad.

Maceo Rigters

Position: Striker Age now: 33 Current Club: Retired Netherlands caps: 0

The forward was a late call up by U21 boss Foppe de Haan and went into the tournament relatively unknown and not exactly in form for club NAC Breda. However, he scored four goals, including a last minute overhead kick against England in the semi-finals, and finished the Euros as top scorer. Blackburn Rovers thought they were signing something special when they snapped Rigters up after the tournament, but they were horribly wrong.

He failed to net in two league appearances for the club, and loans to Norwich City, Barnsley and Willem II proved to be unsuccessful. In 2011 Rigters signed for Australian side Gold Coast United, but after a year he returned home and was last seen playing amateur football.

The substitutes

Luigi Bruins

Position: Midfielder Age now: 30 Current club: Excelsior Netherlands caps: 0

The talented attacking midfielder netted in the final win over Serbia and a few weeks later sealed a move to Feyenoord from Excelsior. Bruins was a replacement for Drenthe, who had joined Real Madrid, and he did ok in his first season, scoring six times in 27 appearances. However, injuries hampered Bruins time at Feyenoord and he left in 2011 for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria before rejoining Excelsior a year later. Bruins moved to Nice in France before once again returning to Excelsior for a third spell. He has remained at the club for the last three years and is firmly a fan favourite.

Roy Beerens

Position: Winger Age now: 30 Current Club: Reading FC Netherlands caps: 2

Beerens made the Netherlands squad after breaking into PSV first team and he made some impressive cameo’s with his pace and trickery. After a short loan with NEC, Beerens joined Heerenveen where he spent four years before moving on to AZ in 2011. Beerens impressed in Alkmaar over three seasons and was snapped up by Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin. However, the move to Germany was not a success and after being frozen out he was rescued by Jaap Stam, who brought him to Reading FC last summer. Beerens netted seven times last season as his club just missed out on promotion to the Premier League.

Calvin Jong-A-Pin

Position: Centre back Age now: 30 Current club: Yokohama FC Netherlands caps: o

A consistent and talented defender with Heerenveen early in his career, Jong-A-Pin was gaining interest from PSV and Ajax but made the decision to move to Japan where he has been ever since, representing Shimizu S-Pulse, FC Machida Zelvia and now Yokohama FC.


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