Melbourne Heart signs Orlando Engelaar
Melbourne Heart's recruitment of Dutch international Orlando Engelaar is exciting for Australian football fans, explains sports reporter Dominic Bossi.PT1M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rmmq 620 349 August 9, 2013
In another boost for the profile of the A-League, Melbourne Heart have pulled off the most significant recruit of their short history by signing former Dutch international Orlando Engelaar as their foreign marquee player for the upcoming season.
Engelaar, 33, agreed to a one-year deal with the club on Friday to become their second glamour transfer this season following the arrival of Socceroos legend Harry Kewell.
Standing at 1.96 metres, holding 14 caps for the Dutch national squad and boasting a CV of the likes of PSV Eindhoven, Schalke and FC Twente, Engelaar will be one of the biggest names to play in the A–League. Only last week, he was pursued by English Premier League club West Ham United but will instead be playing in Australia as what Melbourne Heart director of football John Didulica says is one of the greatest additions to the competition.
Marquee signing: Dutch international Orlando Engelaar will line up for the Melbourne Heart. Photo: Getty Images
"For us it's a significant signing. He's been capped 14 times for the Dutch national team and the period he got capped from, 2007 to 2010, they only once dropped out of the top five in the world in terms of rankings. So to break into that team underlines the quality that he has. He played alongside the likes of [Robin] Van Persie, [Wesley] Sneijder, [Rafael] Van der Vaart, [Nigel] de Jong, the very best footballers in the world and he's standing shoulder to shoulder. As a footballer, there are few better players that we can bring to the A–League," Didulica said.
Melbourne Heart were in negotiations with Engelaar over the past few weeks but Didulica was keeping tabs of the player for a number seasons when speculation first surfaced that he was looking for options away from PSV. When a proposed move to West Ham broke down last week, discussions accelerated with Engelaar and within days the Dutchman arrived in Melbourne to meet the club and coach John Aloisi.
"He is exactly what we wanted, his 33 so he's still got a couple of years left to play so for us it's very exciting, we've put a lot of work into it and we're glad it pulled off," Didulica said. "I think that speaks to the quality of his background as a footballer that Premier League clubs see him as an asset to their organisation and that we are able to bring him to Australia speaks for the trajectory that the A–League is on."
Engelaar was the starting defensive midfielder for the Netherlands at the 2008 European Championship and rose to prominence with an impressive performance in their 3-0 rout of then world champions Italy as well as convincing wins over France and Romania. He was selected for the extended squad for the 2010 World Cup but missed out on a ticket to South Africa.
"He was fantastic, you won't have that immediate name recognition to a lot of people but anyone who's tracked European football - in particular the Euros in 2008 - they will see the player that he is. He absolutely ripped apart the Italians and the French in that tournament," Didulica said.