Thursday, 6 December 2012

Stefan Nijland - The Inside Scoop

A guest post about Union's new trialist Stefan Nijland. Originally written for the Union forum I thought that this was too good not to post on the blog. Thanks Kasper!

Update: Signed for Brisbane Roar of Queensland on 29th January 2013 on a 4 month loan deal.

Some things make my heart beat faster. Last Monday, for instance, when a small web article brought my two favourite teams together. As a Wahlberliner with a warm heart for Union, I cannot let go of the team that coloured my blood green-and-white: FC Groningen from The Netherlands.

Groningen’s former player Stefan Nijland is on trial at Union for a week. This gives me the chance to write something about him. Nijland is a versatile attacking midfielder with fine technical abilities and the quality to score the occasional goal. He has a good overview of his position and the movement of the players around him. Nijland has a silky touch, a real example for every technique school.

Nijland made his professional debut for FC Groningen in 2007/2008 and made an excellent impression. His great style along with being a down-to-earth local guy made him popular in the football-mad city of Groningen. The fact that he is the son of the FC’s Managing Director did not give him any pressure of feelings of preference among the players and the fans. He really played well and very soon he came on the radar of the bigger Dutch teams.

After his first year, PSV Eindhoven bought him for a solid 4M euros. This looked like a match made in heaven, but after the transfer (quickly followed by a severe injury) his progress stopped. It seems like he made the step to the next level a bit too soon. Loan stints at Willem II and NEC brought him back between the chalk lines, but the form he showed at Groningen never returned.

He is still only 24. If he finds a warm nest and some trust to put himself into the level of play, Nijland could be a great addition to the Zweite Bundesliga and Union in particular.

Something to improve: a player in his position must have the ability to carry the team. To be a leader so to say. Nijland has given me a somewhat shy appearance over the years. Besides that, he has to improve physically. German football demands a more physical presence than the technically schooled Dutch game, and Nijland is, however 1.87m tall, but not very muscular. This has caused him some injuries over the years (although not as many as that other Groningen-born player, who is at Bayern now, you know his name).

But still, with his ball-handling qualities he will regularly bring the Union strikers in a dangerous position in front of the opposing goal. I hope he makes a good impression here, and that he lands a contract for at least this season. See you at the Alte Försterei, Stef!

Kasper Dijk (@kasperdijk)

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