Background and Youth
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was born on August 12th 1983 in a village called Drempt in the Achterhoek region of Holland. He had two brothers by parents Dirk-Jan and Maud Huntelaar, and grew up in Hummelo. Klaas-Jan had a passion for football from a very young age and joined his local team, Football Club Hummelo and Keppel at the age of 5. He played for them for six years before being scouted by Go Ahead Eagles but was unable to sign due to them being located so far away. However not long after, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got the break through and was snapped up by De Graafschap. He signed his first youth contract at just eleven years old on April 6th 1994. This was the first step on the football career path although De Graafschap was unable to work out the player’s best position. He played all over the pitch in his first two seasons even in goal but he finally made his mark as a striker in the third season. It wasn’t long before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was able to show his natural ability of putting the ball in the back of the net as he finished 1997/98 scoring 33 goals in 20 matches, not bad for a 14 year lad. This form carried on for 2 more seasons before drawing the attention of PSV, who signed the player in 2000.
PSV and Loans
Huntelaar’s PSV career started well with the youth team scoring 26 goals in 23 matches. That was enough to finish the season as the youth league’s top scorer and book his promotion to Guus Hiddink’s first team. Unfortunately the progression from youth to senior football wasn’t so smooth and Huntelaar only made one appearance. He was sent out on loan to the club he spent six years with at youth level, De Graafschap. Huntelaar played a total of 9 matches and was unable to score in any of them before being told they would not extend his contract. Klaas-Jan went back to PSV who decided to loan the player out again for 2003/04. It was decided that Huntelaar should drop down a level to gain some first team experience. He signed for AGOVV who were in the second tier of Dutch football. The season was a success as Huntelaar went on to score 26 goals in 35 appearances becoming the leagues top scorer and was named as the league’s player of the season.
After being sent out on loan twice by PSV, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar decided the best course of action would be to leave and find a new challenge. It was an important period in the young man’s career and he needed to play football to continue his development. At the start of the 2004/05 season he signed for Heerenveen for a fee of €100,000. The move turned out to be the best decision of his career as the young stiker scored a total of 17 goals in 31 matches in Hollands top division. The second season at Heerenveen was even more prolific as Huntelaar went into the winter break scoring 17 goals in 15 matches. It was an incredible turn around for a man who couldn’t get a game at PSV and as the goals flew in the interest from other clubs increased. That winter Huntelaar secured a move to Ajax for a fee of €9 million. Klaas-Jan had proved himself at the highest level in dutch football and was now regarded as one of the best strikers in the league.
Huntelaar came back from the winter break and took some time to settle. After his blistering start to the season with Heerenveen it took Huntelaar 5 matches to find the net. After that however the goals began to fly in again as he scored 9 goals in his next 7 games, including one against Inter Milan on his Champions League debut. He finished the league season scoring 33 goals in 31 games combined for Heerenveen and Ajax, finishing the season as the leagues top scorer. He also received the Eredivisie talent of the year award and was Ajax’s player of the season.
At the start of 2006/07 season Huntelaar was appointed Ajax’s vice captain. The season didn’t start in the best of form as Ajax crashed out of the Champions League 3rd Qualifying round against Copenhagen. Ajax also finished runners up in the league again as Huntelaar continued his impressive scoring streak with 21 goals in 32 league games.
The 2007/08 started with the usual high expectations but another disappointing Champions League qualifier against Slavia Prague saw Ajax crash out at the first hurdle again. Huntelaar missed a penalty in the 1-0 home defeat and Ajax was unable to turn around the second leg. Huntelaar finished the season scoring 33 goals in 34 matches, an amazing goals to game ratio.
Huntelaar started his international career with Hollands under 21’s and his first opportunity to impress was at the European Championships in Portugal. Klaas-Jan went on to become the top scorer scoring 4 goals as Holland U21’s won the competition. Huntelaar was named in UEFA’s team of the tournament and his stock at international level was rising.
Unfortunately for Klaas-Jan the senior Dutch squad is full of top class strikers who ply there trade in some of Europe’s finest leagues. Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Dirk Kuyt, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Robin Van Persie are all extremely gifted players regularly playing Champions League football at club level. The chances are few and far between and Huntelaar has been left out the squad on occasions. He has scored 8 goals in 13 games for the international team at the time of writing this. But his best chance of improving that tally maybe to move to a bigger European club.