WIJNALDUM ROTTERDAM YOUNG SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR

Georginio Wijnaldum was named Rotterdam young sportsperson of the year at the Rotterdam Topsport Gala Wednesday. The midfield took the award after beating off competition from a water skier, a baseball player, a karateka, a hockey player and boxer in a vote on the website of Dutch national daily AD. ‘I’m really happy with it,’ said Wijnaldum, flanked by Kevin Hofland and team manager Bas van Noortwijk. ‘Just to be nominated meant a great deal to me, but it’s special to have all those people vote for me as the biggest upcoming talent.’

The youngster was given the award for his performances over the whole of 2007, which was a particularly successful year for Wijnaldum. It all started with him in the A1 youth squad, but Wijnaldum made his debut in the first team as early as 8 April. The player’s first goal came a few short weeks ago, after being added to the first-team squad at the start of the season. ‘It was just a dream last year. I really wanted to be a professional footballer and that dream came true this past year.’

Wijnaldum feels that his goal against Heracles is his high point till now. His debut was special too of course, but as soon as he had the shirt his number one ambition was to net a goal. ‘I was looking for that goal in the first team for a long time, but it just wouldn’t come. I’ve had chances since my debut, but the ball wouldn’t go in. So I was really delighted when I finally scored.’

The midfielder had some good things to say about his fellow nominees too. ‘All five have shown they have a lot of talent in their own sport. I only know the baseball player Rien Vernooy personally from school, but the others have done well.’ Besides Wijnaldum, Feyenoord general manager Eric Gudde was also in the spotlight when he presented the prize to the Rotterdam sports team of the year.

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