Rafael Ferdinand van der Vaart is a Dutch footballer who was born on 11 February 1983 in Heemskerk, Netherlands and plays as an attacking midfielder but can also contribute as a second striker.
He is a formidable figure in the midfield and is regarded as one of the star performers from Netherlands. He was named the Dutch Football talent of year in 2000 and also won the Golden Boy award in 2003.
Van der Vaart started his football journey in 1987 with a local club De Kennemers. At the age of 10, he joined AFC Ajax's youth academy and emerged as a great talent impressing everybody.
Such was the display of his immense talent that he paved his way to the first team at the age of 17 in July 2000 and also to the Netherlands U17 team. He represented Netherlands in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina.
He was soon included in the Netherlands U19 team and made 8 appearances for the team while scoring 2 goals. He impressed his coaches at the Ajax and drew comparisons with the great Johan Cruyff by many.
The youth prodigy was soon included in the Netherlands U21 team and scored 2 goals in 4 appearances.
Van der Vaart made his international debut for Netherlands at a young age on 6 October 2001 in a World Cup Qualification Europe match against Andorra as Netherlands won by 4-0.
He also became the Dutch champion and became the Dutch Cup winner with Ajax in the 2001-02 season.
Van der Vaart became one of the stars of Ajax and also one of the most popular players in Netherlands. He was made the captain of the team in the 2004-05 season and made a total of 156 appearances for the club while scoring 63 goals and providing 26 assists.
He again became the Dutch Champion with Ajax in 2003-04 season and also won the Dutch Super Cup.
He moved to Bundesliga team Hamburger SV in July 2005 due to injury and poor performances at Ajax. He finished his debut season at the club as the top scorer as the club finished third in the German league and won the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
He was made the captain in the 2006-07 season but the season proved to be forgetful as van der Vaart was plagued with injuries and Hamburger finished seventh in the league.
He made 199 appearances for the club while scoring 66 goals and providing 55 assists before eventually signing a contract with Real Madrid towards the end of the 2007-08 season.
At the Real Madrid, he scored his career's first hat-trick against Sporting de Gijon as Madrid thrashed them by 7-1.He won the Spanish Super Cup with Madrid in 2007-08 season.
He was a pivotal figure in the mid-field and scored 12 goals in 73 appearances while also providing 11 assists.
In August 2010, Van der Vaart was signed by Tottenham Hotspur. He made his debut for Spur against West Bromwich Albion in a 1-1 draw in September 2010.
He played 77 matches for Spur while scoring 28 goals and assisting 18 times before eventually returning to Hamburger SV in August 2012.
Later, in a free transfer in June 2015, he joined Spanish club Real Betis but only made 9 appearances for the club.
In August 2016, Van der vaart signed with FC Midtjylland on a two year contract. He scored 2 goals in 20 appearances for the club.
Van der Vaart has made 109 appearances for the Netherlands national football team while scoring 25 goals.