Football News

“He is the ideal defender” – Rafael van der Vaart praises Netherlands ‘star player’ after Republic of Ireland win

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:15, 11 September 2023 | Updated: 16:08, 12 September 2023

Rafael van der Vaart has lauded Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries as the ‘ideal defender’ following his performance against the Republic of Ireland.

Ronald Koeman’s men came from a goal down in their Euro 2024 qualifier to run out 2-1 winners at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday evening.

Dumfries was involved in both Oranje goals as he was days earlier against Greece which saw him register three assists. The 27-year-old Inter Milan full-back won a penalty which Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo converted. He was the provider for Wout Weghorst’s winner subsequently rounding off a performance that saw 109-time capped Van der Vaart wax lyrical about.

“[Denzel] Dumfries is our big star. He is really our very best player at the moment, he’s involved in everything,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “He has provided seven assists in the last seven games, but it could have been even more. He is always on the move. A really great player. His touches are also good, which was different in the past. He is the ideal full-back.”

There’s a strong case to name Dumfries as the Netherlands’ most valuable player. Since the start of 2022, he’s been involved in 12 goals for his country (three goals and nine assists), at least four more than any other player.

An ever-present since debuting the Rotterdammer has played under three permanent Dutch managers with former boss Louis van Gaal — who famously showed his appreciation following Dumfries’ man-of-match performance against USA at last winter’s World Cup finals — shockingly finds himself in contention to succeed Hansi Flick as Germany’s manager.

“Normally I won’t coach at a club anymore, but a promising country still has a chance to convince me,” he told Bild.

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Meanwhile, back-to-back qualification wins leave Netherlands second in Group B, six points behind France, albeit with a game in hand. Didier Deschamps’ side will visit Amsterdam next month before Oranje fly to Athens where they will meet Greece who are currently level on points but have played a game more.