Line-up announcements for the teams that will travel to the FIFA World Cup tend to be more and more dramatic these days. From the drones that help the fans travel throughout the country, to the “a team, one country” messages, all of them bring huge emotion.
But few have been simpler, yet so powerful than Louis van Gaal sitting on a chair and sounding out the 26 players that will be in Netherlands’ side at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Between them, an odd name, a 39-year-old goalkeeper, who will make his debut at a major tournament for the Dutch side. His name? Remko Pasveer. A superb story of talent, resilience and a never-give-up attitude, which saw him make his debut in the national team in 2022.
With only two caps to his name, Pasveer made his debut in the Netherlands’ squad in September 2022, when he was 38 years old, against Poland, making him the second oldest player to earn his first cap in the team, only behind another goalkeeper, Sander Boschker, who broke his duck aged 39 in 2010.
He will now be one of the oldest, if not the oldest player at this edition of the FIFA World Cup, a feel-good story that proves once again that impossible is pretty much nothing in football and anything can happen in the right circumstances.
“I think Pasveer is coming with us to the World Cup. He managed to keep a clean sheet both times. It is true that the team was solid defensively, but he was good every time he was called to intervene. He has to keep working,” said Netherlands’ manager, Louis van Gaal, after this game.
“The national team coach always makes good choices, right? It was an amazing thing and the atmosphere is just electric for me now,” jokes Pasveer.
But how exactly did the 39-year-old goalkeeper get here and why did he wait for so long to finally make his debut in the national team?
Born in Enschede, the Netherlands, the goalkeeper made his debut in the local team, Twente, where he featured between 2003 and 2006. He was an European champions with the Dutch side that won the UEFA U21 EURO in 2006, but his chances at Twente were limited and moved to Heracles Almelo, where he became an instant starter in the Dutch first league.
A move to PSV Eindhoven, a powerhouse, followed, but only played five league games in three seasons before changing clubs once again, this time to Vitesse Arnhem. His big chance and the big break came in 2021, when he joined giants Ajax Amsterdam as the third goalkeeper, but Andre Onana’s doping suspension and Maarten Stekelenburg’s injury made him the starter.
His excellent games made him a starter at Ajax, where he played 47 times in all competitions in the past two seasons, even becoming the first goalkeeper in the history of the UEFA Champions League to stop three shots in the same game from Norwegian star Erling Haaland.
Slowly, but surely, Ajax’s goalkeeper entered the fray in the discussions for a place in the national team and his consistency really intrigued van Gaal, who was reticent at first, but was duly convinced after a few months.
Pasveer had his place in the national team, 16 years after becoming the winner of the UEFA EURO U21, after featuring for six teams and winning three domestic titles with PSV and Ajax.
“I could not have dreamt about this a few years ago. In recent months, me and the coaching staff of the national team were in constant contact, so I could see this coming. But now, it was finally my chance,” said Pasveer for ESPN after his debut in the national team against Poland.
The next step is to feature at the FIFA World Cup. It is his first edition and will probably be his last, as the 2026 edition will be too late for Pasveer. He is surely the most experienced shot stopper in the squad, as Heerenveen’s Andries Noppert and Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow complete the three places in van Gaal’s squad. Despite his errors in the last matches, Pasveer will just need to be fit and a debut in the World Cup awaits