Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The sad decline of Andy Van Der Meyde
For those who've been watching football for longer than the past decade, they'll remember Andy Van Der Meyde pretty well. He was one of a huge bunch of Ajax youngsters in the early 2000s that was being tipped for greatness. At one point he was rated as the best winger in Europe alongside Luis Figo. Alongside him at Ajax he had the likes of Rafael Van Der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Christian Chivu and Steven Pienaar in a side that was led by Ronald Koeman. All of those players are still striving at the top level of European football. For Van Der Meyde, the story didn't go according to plan.
Having made a huge impression at Ajax, as most youngsters do, one of the bigger clubs around Europe came calling (as usual with an Ajax youth product) and in the summer of 2003, the talented Dutchman moved to Inter Milan. He spent 2 seasons at the club between 2003 and 2005, and both were deemed a failure to say the least. His move to the Premier League was believed to be a very good gamble by David Moyes when he signed for Everton. A mere 2 million pounds for one of Europe's upcoming prospects had all the recipes for a success.
But this is where things got sour for Andy. At Everton, it all went wrong for him. Unable to break into the team, he turned to alcohol and drugs. According to Van Der Meyde, at Everton he earned double the money (30,000 pounds a week) he was earning at Inter Milan and "felt like a King". He also started cheating on his wife while he was at the club. It was all becoming one big mess. His wife had hired a private detective to track down his movements and caught him cheating. This was what he claims began his downfall. Losing his wife and children meant that he now had the door even more widely open for drugs, alcohol, women and so on.
During a spell at the club in which he was injured, Van Der Meyde took advantage of the situation and in his words he said "for me it was a way to get out and not think about my problems. I could do what I wanted, I had a lot of money, I could buy what I wanted and I could get girls that I wanted. It was very easy. Then you can quickly go off the rails because there is no limit and you could do what you wanted. For me, it was going out and drinking and not thinking of reality". Drugs, women, money, putting on weight, losing his football touch...the once talented Dutchman became a troubled man and consistently fought with David Moyes.
When Everton released him in 2009, he was still living in Liverpool despite being club-less. That's when the drugs really hit. He was out every night. Drinking, doing drugs and so on. There was no end to what he was doing. But it was during that period that he got his wake up call on his own. Claiming that he felt he would die if he stayed at Liverpool, he decided to go back home to Ajax and train with the club. He signed a short term contract with PSV in March 2010, but made no impact and had no official appearance. In February 2011, he retired from Football completely at the age of 31.
It's a sad story for one of European football's brightest names. I remember watching him rip Arsenal to pieces with Inter Milan in a 3-0 win at Highbury (if i'm not mistaken). He was a pure talent down the wing and he had it all going for him. When he arrived in the Premier League, you could sense that this was going to be the beginning of something special for the player who had been unlucky with injuries in Milan. But this just goes to show what happens when a player is given everything he wants. A loss of control over one's life is the stuff we see in movies and we never stop and think that this could be happening to the thousands of footballers out there. Van Der Meyde will always be considered as one of the players who messed his own career up.