The Dutch national team’s training had only just begun when Bart Verbruggen fired the ball wide after a graceful slide. Goalkeeping coach Patrick Lodewix applauds, but the 20-year-old Anderlecht goalkeeper doesn’t move a muscle. “I’m not here on a school trip,” he said a little later at the edge of the field.
And it is unlikely that Verbruggen will be allowed to make his debut for the Dutch national team next week during the first international matches in the European Championship qualifiers against France and Gibraltar. “The national coach told me I should take a good look around me,” he says. “But I also want to show myself.”
With Jasper Cillessen, Mark Felix and Verbruggen, Koeman called up three goalkeepers who were not selected for the World Cup in Qatar at the end of last year. “But that also has to do with injuries,” explains Verbruggen, the absence of Anders Neubert and Justin Bellew. “Otherwise I would be with the Dutch kids by now.”
Verbruggen had yet to play an official match for NAC three years ago when he was sold to Anderlecht for €300,000, meeting old acquaintances with goalkeeper coach Jelle ten Roelar. He started as the club’s third goalkeeper from Brussels, behind Hendrik van Krombrueg and Timon Willenreuther, who is now under contract with Feyenoord. But under new head coach Brian Rimmer he was the first choice for three months.
Anderlecht’s captain, Jan Vertonghen, predicts a great future for Verbruggen. He has the potential to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world. According to many English media outlets, Manchester United and Liverpool want to sign the talented goalkeeper next summer. “I don’t read much, but sometimes you get a message forward,” Verbruggen replies. “It’s great when things go well. It’s also nice to play against Arizona in the conference league with Anderlecht. Then I also play an official match in Holland.”
With Verbruggen, Orange may have the wanted killer at home. The goalkeeper stopped no fewer than three Ludogorets penalties last month. “I don’t know if this is one of my specialties. But I also stopped one during a cup match against Lierse,” said Verbruggen, who has the letter C on his goalkeeper gloves. C is the first letter of the first name of his father, Quinn, who died two years ago. “He was my biggest supporter. Luckily, he saw me leave for Anderlecht. Of course he would have liked to experience that. But because of that letter on my glove, it’s still a little bit there.”
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