For the past 20 years or so, the Dutch have always produced a solid deep midfielder who has cemented his place at the top of world football. Riijkaard, Seedorf, Cocu, Van Bommel to name a few; they have all occupied that position in the Dutch side after coming through from one of the academies back in Netherlands. Kevin Strootman is this generation’s Dutch midfield enforcer with a good 10 years still ahead of him at the national team, if his predecessors are anything to go by.
Born in Ridderkerk, South Holland, Kevin Strootman started of his footballing career at VV Rijsord before signing a contract at Netherlands’ oldest professional football club, Sparta Rotterdam. He made his debut in the 2007/08 Eredivisie season, making a mere three appearances. It was only the following season that Strootman established himself. Still only 18 years old, Strootman made 25 appearances for Sparta, starting each game. 28 appearances followed in the 09/10 campaign, which ended in relegation for Sparta Rotterdam. It seemed dull and gloom in the Eerste division for the Dutchman; but in the 2011 January transfer window, FC Utrecht from the Eredivisie came calling and Strootman was back.
He was so impressive at Utrecht that it took PSV Eindhoven just six months to be convinced of Strootman’s prowess. He made his move to the Dutch giants in 2011, in a double-deal that also saw Dries Mertens join him at the Philips Stadion. The 23-year-old has made 62 appearances in the Eredivisie for PSV in his two seasons at the club, starting all those games and missing just six so far.
Not really known for his scoring, the Dutch international has found the back of the net seven times for PSV, most of which have been convincing victories for the Eindhoven club. His first goal for Utrecht came in a 3-2 loss at home to Den Haag, before scoring 2 weeks later in a 4-2 victory over Vitesse. It took Kevin Strootman 10 starts before he scored his first for PSV, it was 7-1 rout at home against Roda JC. He scored five other goals that campaign, including his first for the Dutch national team against Finland in the European Championship qualifiers; Strootman also scored an 87th minute equaliser against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Europa League, his one and only continental goal so far in his club career. This past campaign Strootman bettered his tally, scoring six goals including his first brace as he scored two goals in the space of 11 minutes to help PSV Eindhoven come back from 2 goals down against Willem II to take a 3-2 victory.
Being a defensive midfielder, and having Van Bommel as a team-mate, he is bound to get you a few bookings. Strootman has picked up 42 yellow cards throughout his career, with a minimum of five in every full league season at a club. Not an impressive record to boast of. His solitary red card proved to be costly for PSV back in 2011, with his side 2-1 up against Twente, Strootman was sent off in the 72nd minute before Leroy Fer took advantage, equalising just six minutes later.
He has made 18 appearances for the Dutch national team since his debut in 2011, even captaining the side in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Romania and Andorra. Kevin Strootman also became the first PSV Eindhoven player, since Mark Van Bommel in 2000, to captain the Dutch U-21 side into a European Championship. The Dutch boasted of a talented group which impressively reached the semi-finals, before losing out to a Fabio Borini goal against Italy.