The announcement is accompanied by a photo of the local hero: Danielle Van de Donk, Arsenal Ladies’ midfielder and starter in the Dutch women’s line-up.
Valkenswaard is the home town of Van de Donk, a city of about 30,000 in the North Brabant province.
Van de Donk began playing football when she was only a girl with local SV Valkenswaard. That was about 20 years before the UEFA Women’s Euro semifinal between the Netherlands and England, the best night for Van de Donk in the national kit.
In the 62nd minute the Dutch midfielder scored the second goal of the ultimate 3-0, punishing a misplaced pass by Fara Williams. Surprisingly, the screen of the FC Twente Stadium of Enschede showed Lieke Martens as the scorer – an error perhaps caused by the fact that Van De Donk does not score as frequently as Martens or Vivianne Miedema.
The match showed fully how her support work in the Oranje midfield is an irreplaceable contribution to the team trained by Sarina Wiegman.
She is a set of scales for the Netherlands, an element of balance in the attacking style of the Dutch squad. In this sense, she represents a different kind of No10, as focused and gifted on the attacking front as on the interception and pressing actions.
Van de Donk was chosen by UEFA as player of the match against England, a prize that she wanted to shared with her team-mates.
After the match, at the press conference, she said: “I guess it was my best match with the national shirt. I won this prize but all the team played a beautiful match. I am really proud of the group.”
Coincidentally Van de Donk played her best game with the national team against her Arsenal team-mates such as Alex Scott, Jordan Nobbs, Fara Williams and Jodie Taylor.
Van de Donk’s journey towards her best match in the UEFA Women’s Euro started with SV Valkenswaard and then the VV UNA youth sector.
In 2008, at 17, she joined Willem II in the Dutch Eredivisie and four years later moved to VVV Venlo. Her national team debut arrived at the City of Sao Paolo tournament in 2010.
Two years later she joined PSV Eindhoven, scoring 30 goals in 53 appearances with the club. In 2015, after a six-month parenthesis with Sweden’s Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC, she signed for Arsenal with whom she won the FA Cup in 2016.
Van de Donk, before the current Euro, was also selected for Euro 2013 in Sweden and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
On the eve of the UEFA Women’s EURO final, Van de Donk turns 26. The birthday party has had to be postponed. On Sunday, the Netherlands will need all the quality and sacrifice of Danielle Van de Donk, a modern No10.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. and is currently undertaking a Young Reporters course in the Netherlands in co-operation with UEFA, More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
# # # # # # # # # # # # # # #