A 16-year-old centre-back already playing regularly at the Netherlands top level? Sepp van den Berg is repaying the trust given to him by PEC Zwolle with some performances well beyond his years.

  • by Michael Statham
  • Follow Michael on Twitter @EredivisieMike


Characterised by his ginger mop and standing at just over 6 feet tall (1.89m), van den Berg is still growing physically because of his age. He has spent his teenage years so far in the PEC Zwolle youth academy and he made his unofficial debut last summer in a friendly match against amateurs HZVV.

After sitting with the substitutes on several occasions during last season, van den Berg got his first competitive opportunity as a half-time substitute in a 2-0 defeat against Groningen. In that match, van den Berg became the youngest ever player to be given a yellow card in the Eredivisie.

However, those 45 minutes were enough to persuade PEC Zwolle manager John van ‘t Schip to hand the teenager his first start in a 3-4 home defeat to Dutch giants Feyenoord. This was followed by van den Berg enjoying his first clean sheet, a 2-0 win over Sparta Rotterdam, and another full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Excelsior.

The 16-year-old’s six Eredivisie appearances last season culminated with another 57 minutes against Twente and a first-half against AZ (where the score was only 1-0 before van den Berg’s withdrawal – AZ then went on to win 6-0).

Van den Berg is yet to make his debut for the Netherlands at any youth level (to date), but it is only a matter of time before he does thanks to his rapid development.

Style of Play

Despite his age, van den Berg has shown great bravery to play against some of the Eredivisie’s best players. He is a solid tackler and is fairly strong. The teenager still has to develop physically though to win more aerial duels and needs to gain more maturity with some of his decision making, for example through his pressing on attackers.

The centre-back’s all-round game is very good for his age and naturally, as a Dutch defender, van den Berg is comfortable with the ball at his feet to start off attacking moves.

What to expect from van den Berg this season

In the little we have seen of van den Berg, it’s clear that he is developing rapidly. This season, it’s likely that the defender will be in first-team contention, but not guaranteed a starting spot in PEC’s team, which can only be healthy for his progress.

However, with a full season under his belt in Zwolle and breaking into the Dutch national team’s youth ranks, it won’t be long before the rest of Europe hears of the name Sepp van den Berg.

Van den Berg features in our Top 10 Dutch Wonderkids…watch our video to see who else is featured.

Michael Statham (812 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.