Denzel Dumfries: From Aruba and amateur football to starring for the Netherlands

Denzel Dumfries: From Aruba and amateur football to starring for the Netherlands

Denzel Dumfries’ European Championship campaign is turning out infinitely more impressively than his Bitcoin investments.
The Netherlands wing-back has produced two man-of-the-match displays as Frank de Boer’s side stormed through Group C in top spot with three wins from three.
Dumfries headed a dramatic winner against Ukraine and scored his second of the tournament in a 2-0 victory over Austria, having earlier won a penalty. He also played 45 minutes against North Macedonia before De Boer rotated his side.
They were the 25-year-old’s first goals for his country and came seven years after his previous international strike – for Aruba against Guam while still playing amateur football.
It has been quite the rise for a player overlooked as a youngster, but now on the radar of clubs across Europe.
Check out the Euro 2020 scores and fixtures Listen to the latest Daily Euros podcast from BBC Radio 5 Live The PSV Eindhoven defender has been linked with a move to Everton, but Inter Milan and Bayern Munich are now among those reportedly interested.
It led Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport to compare Dumfries to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, writing: “In the beginning nobody trusts it, but you had better invest in it.”
“That’s a funny comparison,” laughed Dumfries, when told about it in a news conference.
“[PSV team-mate] Cody Gakpo taught me about Bitcoin once. I’ve abolished some of them, I don’t think they’re going well at the moment.
“Sometimes you hear that Bitcoin has already peaked. Let’s hope it doesn’t go downhill for me.”
Dumfries’ trajectory only appears to be on the up and De Boer’s trust in him is paying off as the Netherlands prepare to face the Czech Republic in the last 16 on Sunday (17:00 BST).
“I’m super happy for him,” said former Netherlands defender Mario Melchiot on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s not like we are only seeing this from him at a big tournament. He is always high energy and has a winning mentality and fighting spirit.”
A Hollywood tale in the making Denzel Dumfries has won 22 caps for the Netherlands Dumfries is certainly not taking the praise for granted, having only joined a professional club when he was 18 and been mocked for dreaming of representing the Oranje.
The defender, named after Hollywood actor Denzel Washington, played locally in Rotterdam before joining BVV Barendrecht, one of the country’s most-recognised amateur sides.
Dumfries admits he was once “clumsy” and would sometimes make the wrong decisions or not strike the ball cleanly, but, at the age of 17, the opportunity to play international football arrived.
Born in Rotterdam after his parents moved from Aruba, Dumfries agreed to play for the Caribbean island on the assurance the games were not official, thus leaving himself available to one day be called up by the Netherlands.
Peers laughed at what they saw as misguided ambitions, but Dutch second-tier side Sparta Rotterdam took a chance on the raw teenager and their faith was rewarded, winning promotion to the Eredivisie in his first full season at the club.
Dumfries used to write on his bedroom wall how he wanted his career to pan out. That was until his sister took that room and he had to paint over it, instead recording his thoughts in a notebook.
He admits some people thought he was “crazy” for jotting down his desire to play for the national team, but a move to Heerenveen followed and in 2018 Dumfries joined PSV.
Within four months, he was being called up by Ronald Koeman and making his Netherlands debut against Germany in October.
“I always had to look up, that’s where I wanted to go,” added Dumfries. “I did everything for that, step by step.
“That gave me a drive and a certain desire and every time I had achieved something, I always had a new goal.”
The freight train arrives… Dumfries’ touch map from games against Ukraine, Austria and the first half versus North Macedonia show how much time the right wing-back has spent in attacking areas Dutch football expert James Rowe told BBC Sport before the tournament that De Boer’s favoured 5-3-2 formation would suit Dumfries and the marauding wing-back has looked more like a right-sided forward at times.
“The freight train has arrived again!” barked commentator Jonathan Pearce as Dumfries popped up on the edge of the six-yard box to score the Netherlands’ second goal against Austria.
“I thrive perfectly in this system,” said Dumfries. “The coach has been criticised, but given the profile of the players, he chose the best system.”
And he insists those energetic displays will continue as he added: “There are still plenty of areas for improvement.
“I can choose better positions, especially when we have the ball and when I have to make more crosses, the return of which can also be increased.
“But I’m definitely off to a good start. The team too – and that is most important, I am happy to contribute to that. I have always given everything, it is an honour to play for the Netherlands in this tournament.”
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