Soccer-Dutch see goalkeeper Verbruggen as new Van der Sar

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - April 6, 2024 Brighton & Hove Albion's Bart Verbruggen in action REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Not since Edwin van der Sar have the Netherlands had a goalkeeper of major international standing but in picking Bart Verbruggen as first choice at the European Championship, they are hoping they have found one.

Coach Ronald Koeman designated the Brighton & Hove Albion keeper as first choice before the tournament started and the 21-year-old did not disappoint on Sunday as the Dutch came from behind to beat Poland in their Group D opener.

Verbruggen, who became the third-youngest keeper to play at the Euros, made several key late saves to preserve the Dutch lead as they hung on for a 2-1 victory.

"It's something I always dreamed of and so far it hasn't disappointed at all," Verbruggen said.

He only had no way of stopping Adam Buksa's header from a corner that gave Poland a surprise lead.

"I think we gave away very little in the first hour - apart from that corner. At the end, though, Poland started to play, and I had to work a few times. Fortunately, I was able to help the team," he said.

Koeman was also pleased with Verbruggen’s contribution.

"He was really good," he said. "The goal from the corner was not his fault. It was impossible to stop that ball."

Frans Hoek, former goalkeeping coach of the Dutch team, described Verbruggen as an all-rounder.

"This means that he can make a good contribution to the build-up, but that he can also defend his goal well," he said.

"He’s a natural talent. Now he has to convert potential into performance. Then it may well be that he will be the next one on whom the Dutch team can build for a long time, à la Edwin van der Sar. But we are not that far yet," Hoek added.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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