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Rafael van der Vaart
Rafael van der Vaart 4.jpg
Personal information
Full name Rafael Ferdinand van der Vaart
Date of birth 11 February 1983 (1983-02-11) (age 27)
Place of birth Heemskerk, Netherlands
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) [1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current club Real Madrid
Number 23
Youth career
1993–2000 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2005 Ajax 0117 0(52)
2005–2008 Hamburg 0074 0(29)
2008– Real Madrid 0049 00(8)
National team
2001– Netherlands 0075 0(15)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14 March 2010.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 3 March 2010(UTC)

Rafael Ferdinand van der Vaart (born 11 February 1983) is a Dutch footballer who currently plays for La Liga club Real Madrid and the Netherlands national team. His preferred position is central midfield as playmaker but is capable of operating on both sides of the midfield. Van der Vaart began his career at Ajax's famous youth academy and worked his way into the first team debuting as a 17-year-old. He switched to Bundesliga side Hamburg before moving on to La Liga giants Real Madrid.



Van der Vaart was born in Heemskerk to a Dutch father and a Spanish mother from Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz. Before joining AFC Ajax, he played for a local club called De Kennemers based in Beverwijk.[2] He grew up on a caravan park living a "gypsy life" and often imagined he was Romário. It was there that he learned how to play football and, at the age of 10, he joined the AFC Ajax academy.[3]




Van der Vaart came through the ranks at Ajax with national teammates John Heitinga and Wesley Sneijder. Initially he was gift and signed for Ajax on a trial basis as a ten-year-old but was eventually enrolled permanently after impressing the coaches. At the age of 17, van der Vaart made his debut for the Ajax senior side in a 1–1 draw with FC Den Bosch in the 1999–2000 season.

Rafael van der Vaart with Ajax.

In the 2000–01 season, Ajax coach Co Adriaanse increased van der Vaart's playing time by moving him to the attacking midfielder position. He was voted as European Talent of the Year by Italian football website CalcioManager.[4]

The next season, van der Vaart suffered a serious knee injury and was out for several months. Shortly after returning to action, he re-injured the same knee on 2 April 2002, requiring an operation that involved the removal of his entire meniscus. He missed the rest of the season and finished with fourteen goals one goal less than fellow dutch international Reggie Harrison. In 2002–03, Ajax won the Amsterdam Tournament, though injury limited van der Vaart to 21 league appearances, in which he scored 18 goals.

Van der Vaart was named team captain by coach Ronald Koeman for the 2004–05 season. During an international match against Sweden on 18 August 2004, he was injured by then Ajax teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović which led to the sale of Ibrahimović to Juventus two weeks later following controversial accusations that he had intentionally tried to hurt van der Vaart. As a result, van der Vaart took Ibrahimović's spot as a striker.[5] His on-pitch performance suffered due to being played out of position and he was stripped of the team captaincy by Koeman as a result, while the media criticized him for being overweight and spending too much time in the Dutch nightlife with his then-fiancée, The Music Factory VJ Sylvie Meis.[6] In September, a league match against ADO Den Haag was temporarily halted by the officials due to incessant anti-Semitic chants by opposing fans directed at Meis.[7] The incident, coupled with his ongoing injury problems that resulted in an average of only 23 league appearances in five seasons with Ajax, led him to announce that he was leaving the club at the end of the year.


Van der Vaart's €5.5 million transfer to Bundesliga club Hamburger SV, on 1 June 2005[8], raised many eyebrows. Many other top-flight clubs had shown interest in the midfielder but he chose Hamburg. The Ajax legend Johan Cruyff himself commented in his De Telegraaf column, "I don't know what to say about it or what Rafael van der Vaart is doing in Hamburg."[7] Van der Vaart finished his first season as the team's top scorer as Hamburg finished third in the league and won the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup. He assumed the team captaincy for the 2006–07 season.

In the 2007–08 season, van der Vaart scored 12 league goals as Hamburg finished fourth in the league, while reaching the round of sixteen in the UEFA Cup. During the UEFA Cup away win at FC Zürich, he tore ankle ligaments and was out of action for several weeks. Despite interest from clubs such as Chelsea[9] and Valencia CF,[10] he stated that he would stay at Hamburg until the end of the season, but opted out of signing a contract extension.[11][12]

Real Madrid

Van der Vaart in action for Real Madrid.

Towards the end of the 2007–08 season, van der Vaart was linked to a move to several clubs including Atlético Madrid and Juventus. Atlético made a €15 million bid for the Dutchman[13], which Hamburg rejected, and in the end it was their cross-town rivals who got van der Vaart's signature instead.

On 4 August 2008, Real Madrid and Hamburg reached a €13 million agreement for van der Vaart's transfer, Real Madrid's only summer signing.[14] He signed a five-year contract for an undisclosed amount.[15] Van der Vaart debuted in a 2–1 preseason win four days later in a pre-season friendly against Independiente Santa Fé, where he scored the tying goal and provided an assist.[16] He changed his squad number from 19 to his favored number 23 after teammate Wesley Sneijder took number 10 following Robinho's 31 August departure to Manchester City[17], He marked his league debut for Real Madrid with a strike against CD Numancia in a 4–3 victory.[18] On 24 September, he scored his first career hat-trick in a 7–1 thrashing of Sporting Gijón.[19]

In October 2008, van der Vaart was one of the many La Liga players to be nominated for the Ballon d'Or but the award ultimately went to former Manchester United player and current teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.[20]

For the latter part of the 08-09 season, van der Vaart was mostly used as an impact substitute by coach Juande Ramos which led to speculations of a fall-out between coach and player. Despite transfer rumors linking him with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool; he denied having any links with the English clubs.[21]

It was suggested that van der Vaart would leave the club in the summer of 2009 after Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said he would not be part of his plans. In pre-season, Esteban Granero was given van der Vaart's number 23 jersey, leaving him without a squad number. Granero now wears number 24. Towards the end of the summer 2009 Transfer window, he eventually came to an agreement with Real Madrid to stay with the club after the squad size had already made it down to 25 players when Dutch compatriots Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar left the club.

After a long wait of 4 games, van der Vaart has finally been included in Pellegrini's squad list to face Villarreal CF [1] on the 23rd of September. Van der Vaart scored his first and second La Liga goal's of the 2009-2010 campaign against Real Zaragoza after establishing himself as a key player for Los Blancos again.

On March 6 he scored the winning goal in injury time for Real Madrid against Sevilla.

International career

Rafael van der Vaart playing for the Dutch national team

Rafael van der Vaart gained the notice of the youth team coaches and was called up for the youth squads. He played in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship with present senior teammates Maarten Stekelenburg and John Heitinga and former Real Madrid teammates Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben.

The 18-year-old van der Vaart then made his senior international debut against Andorra on 6 October 2001.[22] He was a member of the squads that participated in UEFA Euro 2004, UEFA Euro 2008, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Despite figuring prominently in a number of qualifying stage matches, van der Vaart has had a lack of luck when it came to the final tournament. A sub-par performance by the Dutch during their opening game of Euro 2004 persuaded former manager Dick Advocaat to change the side's formation into one which he felt the talented van der Vaart did not fit in to. With Advocaat's new system seemingly working, van der Vaart would be reduced to play a bit-part role at Euro 2004, as the Oranje reached the semifinals. Despite that setback, van der Vaart produced some superlative performances in the Bundesliga the following season, and it seemed that van der Vaart's turn to shine on the big stage was to finally come — at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. However, niggling injury problems resurfaced, and van der Vaart was not risked by Dutch coach Marco van Basten for the opening World Cup encounter against Serbia and Montenegro. With victory in that opening game, the national team coach would once again decide to continue fielding a van der Vaart-less lineup. And once again, Rafael van der Vaart was reduced to a bit-part role in the squad although since then he has become a more regular fixture in the starting XI.

Rafael van der Vaart playing for the Dutch national team

Van der Vaart was called up for UEFA Euro 2008 despite missing several qualification matches due to an ankle injury. As coach Marco van Basten had decided to change their formation to 4–2–3–1, van der Vaart was deployed in the midfield along with Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt or Robin van Persie, behind lone striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to great effect. In the opening game of the competition, the Dutch team won 3–0 against the world champions Italy with van der Vaart playing a role in the build-ups. Van Basten decided to field him again in the starting line-up in the next match against France; the Oranje later went on to win 4–1.

Despite enduring a torrid time at club level, van der Vaart remained a first-choice player for van Basten's successor Bert van Marwijk in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. On 10 September 2008, he ended a 10-month goal drought with a vital strike against Macedonia in a 2–1 win.[23] He ended the campaign with 2 goals and several important assists.

On 12 August 2009, van der Vaart captained the Dutch in the absence of Giovanni van Bronckhorst in a friendly against England. He scored the second goal off a Gareth Barry mistake to put the Netherlands two goals up in the first half but Jermain Defoe netted a brace to seal a 2-2 draw.[24]

International goals

Rafael van der Vaart: International goals
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 September 6, 2003 De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands  Austria 1–0 3–0 2004 UEQ
2 September 10, 2003 Toyota Arena, Prague, Czech Republic  Czech Republic 2–1 3–1 2004 UEQ
3 October 11, 2003 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Moldova 4–0 5–0 2004 UEQ
4 June 1, 2004 Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland  Faroe Islands 1–0 3–0 Friendly
5 September 7, 2005 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Andorra 1–0 4–0 2006 WCQ
6 October 8, 2005 Toyota Arena, Prague, Czech Republic  Czech Republic 0–1 0–2 2006 WCQ
7 November 15, 2006 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  England 1–1 1–1 Friendly
8 February 7, 2007 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Russia 4–0 4–0 Friendly
9 June 2, 2007 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea  Korea Republic 0–1 0–2 Friendly
10 June 2, 2007 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea  Korea Republic 0–2 0–2 Friendly
11 June 6, 2007 Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand  Thailand 0–1 1–3 Friendly
12 November 21, 2007 Dinamo Stadium (Minsk), Minsk, Belarus  Belarus 2–1 2–1 2008 UEQ
13 September 10, 2008 Skopje City Stadium, Skopje, Macedonia  Macedonia 0–2 1–2 2010 WCQ
14 April 1, 2009 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Macedonia 4–0 4–0 2010 WCQ
15 August 12, 2009 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  England 2–0 2–2 Friendly

Personal life

On 10 June 2005, van der Vaart married Sylvie van der Vaart (née Meis) and on 28 May 2006, their son Damián Rafael was born. Some of the media have described the couple as the "new Beckhams" but both of them denied the claims saying that they prefer to just live a normal life.[25]

Club statistics


Club performance League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Netherlands League KNVB Cup Europe Total
1999–00 Ajax Eredivisie 1 0 - - - - 1 0
2000–01 28 5 - - - - 28 5
2001–02 20 6 - - 2 0 20 6
2002–03 21 8 - - 6 2 27 10
2003–04 25 5 - - 7 1 32 6
2004–05 23 6 - - 7 1 30 7
Germany League DFB-Pokal Europe Total
2005–06 Hamburg Bundesliga 19 9 3 2 9 5 31 16
2006–07 26 8 7 3 5 3 38 14
2007–08 30 12 12 4 6 2 48 18
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Total
2008–09 Real Madrid La Liga 32 5 1 0 7 0 40 5
2009–10 17 3 2 1 3 0 22 4
Total Netherlands 118 30 - - 22 4 140 34
Germany 75 29 22 9 20 10 117 48
Spain 49 8 3 1 10 0 62 9
Career Total 242 67 25 10 52 14 319 91

Last updated 14 March 2010

Club Playing Honours

Real Madrid



  1. ^ "Rafael van der Vaart Official Face File". 
  2. ^ "About me Biography". Van Der Vaart Official. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  3. ^ "Young master". The Times. 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Van der Vaart voted 'European Talent of the Year'". Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  5. ^ Player profile: Rafaël van der Vaart
  6. ^ van der Vaart joins Hamburger SV for five seasons
  7. ^ a b Whatever happened to Rafael van der Vaart? - BBC Sport, 7/12/05
  8. ^ Ajax agrees to transfer midfielder Van der Vaart to Hamburg
  9. ^ Rafael van der Vaart is £20m Chelsea target
  10. ^ Koeman wants Van der Vaart
  11. ^ Hamburg's Van der Vaart rebuffs January move
  12. ^ Van der Vaart turns down new deal
  13. ^ Atletico make Van der Vaart bid
  14. ^ "Real Madrid and Hamburg reach an agreement for the transfer of the Dutch midfielder". 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  15. ^ "Rafael van der Vaart completes deal with Real Madrid". 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  16. ^ "Van der Vaart's scores in debut". 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  17. ^ "Official shirt numbers - Sneijder switches to ‘10’ and Van der Vaart takes over ‘23’". 2008-09-03. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Numancia edged in Madrid goal spree". 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  19. ^ "Real Madrid 7–1 Sporting Gijon". 2008-08-24. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  20. ^ Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard nominated for Ballon d'Or
  21. ^ Van der Vaart denies Chelsea talk
  22. ^ "Fact file". Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  23. ^ Dutch start with victory in Macedonia
  24. ^ "Holland vs England - as it happened". The Guardian. 12 August 2009. 
  25. ^ Sylvie and Rafael
  26. ^ ESPNsoccernet - Rafael Van der Vaart Stats, News - Real Madrid

External links

Simple English

Rafael van der Vaart
File:Rafael van der Vaart
Personal information
Full name Rafael Ferdinand van der Vaart
Date of birth 11 February 1983 (1983-02-11) (age 28)
Place of birth    Heemskerk, Netherlands
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Real Madrid
Number 23
Senior clubs
Years Club
Hamburger SV
Real Madrid
National team
2001- Netherlands

Rafael van der Vaart (born 11 February 1983) is a Dutch football player. He plays for Tottenham Hotspur and Netherlands national team.

Club career statistics

Club Performance League CupContinentalTotal
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
NetherlandsLeague KNVB Cup EuropeTotal
GermanyLeague DFB-Pokal EuropeTotal
2005/06Hamburger SVBundesliga19923953017
SpainLeague Copa del Rey EuropeTotal
2008/09[[real Madrid C.F] [La Liga]
CountryNetherlands 1175222613958
Germany 7429922201010361
Spain 3251070405
Total 2138510224916272123

International career statistics


Netherlands national team



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