A prolific striker in the Dutch leagues, ‘The Hunter’ has struggled to score with the same frequency in Spain and Italy and heads to the World Cup with a question mark over his abilities at the highest level.
At international level he boasts a goal every other game. Huntelaar missed out on selection for the 2006 World Cup but proved a point by finishing as top scorer for the Holland side that won the European U21 Championship that summer. He scored twice on his senior debut against Ireland but featured in only one game at Euro 2008, scoring in the final group game against Romania.
He started his career at PSV but failed to make the grade. After spells on loan at De Graafschap and AGOVV Apeldoorn, Huntelaar signed for Heerenveen in 2004 and hit 34 goals in 46 league games to earn a move to Ajax in January 2006.
A stunning 76 goals in 92 league games for the Amsterdam giants led to a £20m transfer to Real Madrid in January 2009 but, despite scoring 8 goals in 20 games (only 13 starts) he was quickly moved on to AC Milan after only six months at the Bernabeu. His first season in Italy has proved equally frustrating with Huntelaar managing only seven goals in 30 games.
Veteran coach Louis van Gaal said of him: “In the box, he is the best player in the world, bar none”. Huntelaar made such an impact at second division Apeldoorn (scoring 26 goals in 35 games) that the club named their new stand after him in 2007, despite the fact the striker had only spent one season on loan at the club, in 2003-04.
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