Originally a centre-back, Van der Wiel was converted to an attacking right-back by then-Ajax coach Marco van Basten. He broke into the national set-up after impressing at his club, making his debut against Tunisia in February 2009 and going on to feature in three World Cup qualifiers (versus Scotland twice, and Macedonia). He is often compared to Barcelona’s Brazilian right-back Daniel Alves.
Van der Wiel came through the Ajax youth set-up but was thrown out in 2002 for insubordination, but after three years at second division side Haarlem he was given a second chance by Ajax. A regular in the Amsterdam club’s first-team for the last two seasons, he was named Ajax’s young player-of-the year in 2008/09.
He has a ‘bad boy’ reputation in Holland, fuelled by his tattoos, baggy pants, baseball cap and love of gangster rap. He became embroiled in a media storm last October when, after withdrawing from the Dutch squad travelling for a friendly in Australia with concussion, he posted pictures of himself on Twitter at a Lil’ Wayne concert. Luckily for the 22-year-old, Van Marwijk appears to have forgiven him.
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