Name: Rafael van der Vaart
Born: Heemskerk, Netherlands
Position: Attacking midfielder Left/Center
Current Club: Real Madrid FC
A product of the Ajax youth system, Rafael van der Vaart is no stranger to success. Leading a recovering Ajax team back to its glory days, van der Vaart has shown remarkable maturity for his age. He scored seven goals in 27 first-team appearances in his first full season, 2000/01, after replacing the veteran Richard Witschge. The next year he scored 14 in 20, as Ajax won the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup. With all his promise, van der Vaart was riddled with injuries and had to undergo surgery. But when fully fit, he can be compared to the best players Holland has ever produced. In February 2003, he signed a new deal with Ajax, and in the 2003/04 campaign, he's gotten the interest of other European clubs, including Manchester United and Juventus. In the 2004/05 season, Rafael van der Vaart was named Captain of the squad. During an international match against Sweden, van der Vaart was injured by fellow Ajax teammate, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which led to the Ajax side to disfunction and also led to Ibrahimovic's sudden sale to Juventus. Ajax, unable to find a replacement striker, gave manager Ronald Koeman no choice but to put van der Vaart into striker position, especially with, Ajax striker, Wesley Sonck's poor form. Continuing a poor season, and lack of leadership quality, Koeman had no choice but to strip van der Vaart from his captaincy and give it to Tomas Galasek instead. Ronald Koeman quit the team as head coach, and Danny Blind took over the helm as manager. Van der Vaart was injured for most of the games left under Blind, and announced taht he did not plan on staying with Ajax, that he would take his game outside the Netherlands. Rumours began with van der Vaart that he would be moving to SV Hamburg, Germany, but the player played that down after many weeks of speculation. It turned out that speculation came to reality, and van der Vaart joined the German club, and became an instant hit with the fans scoring vital goals in their Bundesliga campaign.
Dutch Talent of the Year