Profile: Inter Milan’s Wesley Benjamin Sneijder, Manchester United's latest transfer target

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Profile: Inter Milan’s Wesley Benjamin Sneijder, Manchester United's latest transfer target

There were many players that came into this World Cup in South Africa with huge reputations and king-size egos, but not all have been able to live up to their reputations. The Ronaldos, the Messis, the Drogbas and the Torreses have disappointed bitterly at the summer’s football extravaganza.

However, there were some who did not have a huge ego with them and did their business quietly. One such fellow is the 26 year old Dutch midfield maestro Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder has been the superstar of the Dutch national side at this year’s World Cup, and with five goals already to his name, he is the key behind his team’s success.

Sneijder has been one of the brightest shining stars of this World Cup and his glittering performances in South Africa have attracted attention from all and sundry, none more appealing than the English giants Manchester United, who are trying to woo the striker to the English Premier League with a 25 million pound transfer fee.

So what exactly does the world know about Sneijder? Wesley Benjamin Sneijder was born in the city of Utrecht, Holland on the 9th of June 1984, and it feels like football was in his blood despite not coming from a family that had a background in the game. At the tender age of 4, he joined the junior Ajax football academy, where his older brother was already in training. Although elder brother Jeffrey went on to graduate from the academy and play for lower league Dutch sides (Telstar), it was the middle one Wesley that had success bestowed upon him. Wesley has a younger brother too who is also with the same academy, but Wesley think he should learn his trade fully before moving to one of the big clubs, and that’s exactly why he once blocked his discussion with his former club Real Madrid.

Wesley Sneijder signed a professional contract after training for 10 years at the Ajax Academy at the age of 17, and made a full debut on 22nd December 2002 against SBV Excelsior in a 2-0 win for Ajax Amsterdam. He went on to score 57 times in 180 games for Ajax, and along the way won two Dutch Cups, one Eredivisie title and many personal accolades. In 2007, he was sold to Real Madrid for 27 million Euros; where he took over the famous number 23 shirt previously worn by David Beckham and went on to make a flying start to his career at the Bernabeu, scoring a winner in his very first game for the club – the Madrid Derby. He carried on the impressive form in the next match and bagged two more in the next game against Villarreal, and in his very first season, landed the Spanish La Liga crown. He started his second season with the number 10 shirt and it did not prove to be a very fruitful year for the dynamic Dutchman, as Real lost their crown to Barcelona, and at the end of the season he was deemed surplus to requirements at the club and was sold to Inter Milan.

It was a bargain that Jose Mourinho’s Inter were more than happy to land; a midfield anchor man for just 15 million Euros. Sneijder was the lynchpin of the Inter side that under the tutelage of the Special One went on to claim an unprecedented treble of titles: The Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

Sneijder’s international career started with the Dutch Under-21 side in the year ’03 at the age of 18, but he did not make his full international debut until a month later against Portugal. Sneijder scored his first international goal for Netherlands in the Euro ‘04 qualifying match against a lowly Moldova later in the year.

The midfield maestro has been a part of the Dutch national squad in the last 4 major tournaments. He was only a sub at Euro 2004 but started all his teams’ matches in the last World Cup in Germany, and his impressive performances at the Euro ‘08 saw him named in the team of the tournament - something that he is set to repeat at this year’s World Cup. Sneijder married a Dutch model Ramona Streekstra in 2005, and they couple gave birth to a son Jessey the following year; the midfielder’s left arm also boasts a tattoo dedicated to his son. However, their marriage came to an unpleasant end, when last year Sneijder was caught locking lips with the then girlfriend of Dutch pop star Jan Smit, Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen, on a CCTV outside a petrol station. Sneijder went on to marry the model earlier in March this year, and the model still remains the Netherlands’ answer to Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham and Jordan. Since marrying Yolanthe, Sneijder has converted to Catholic faith and was baptized only recently in Italy.

As a midfielder, Sneijder is a two-footed midfield general, but he can also play on the wings. He has a lethal left foot and is also a free kick specialist, and has become a dead ball specialist in all the sides that he has represented.



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