Twelves years ago, Dutch full-back Gregory van der Wiel began his career at Ajax. After coming through the club’s youth team, the young defender earned a spot in the first team and quickly solidified himself as the club’s starting right-back.
His success with Ajax led to being selected for the Netherlands national team and Van der Wiel was a prominent member of the 2010 World Cup qualifying squad. His play continued to impress and he started the 2010 World Cup final against Spain.
Two years later, a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain enabled the full-back to be a part of 12 trophy wins in France. Yet, Van der Wiel found his time up at PSG in 2016, and after stops in Turkey and Italy, he moved to Toronto FC.
Van der Wiel spent just one season at Toronto FC and left in March following a disagreement with the club’s coaching staff. Now without a club, the former Dutch international is proof of just how quickly a career can crash in football. He has shown the way in which footballers can go from the highs of title-winning teams and World Cup finals to the lows of being out of a job.
The Dutch defender is just 31 and could find himself on trial with a club in late July or August with the new European season kicking off soon. If he wants to find another club, he very well could thanks to his history in the game.
Van der Wiel is a great story for young footballers. He was on top of the football world as a top player in France and internationally. But as happens to some footballers, things change quickly. Whether it is due to losing form or losing a desire to play football, careers can change in an instance.
From a World Cup final to being without a club nine years later after being released from Toronto FC, it has been quite the ride for Van der Wield. The right-back may not have much of a future in football after buying a multi-million dollar house in Los Angeles as he pursues other endeavours.
Perhaps a future with one of the Los Angeles-based teams could be an option. If not, Van der Wiel will be another player that burnt brightly early but flamed out before truly hitting his full potential.