Dutch delight for Mariners defence

The Central Coast Mariners defensive stocks have received a massive boost, following the signing of Eredivisie hardman Patrick Zwaanswijk from NAC Breda for the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

The Central Coast Mariners defensive stocks have received a massive boost, following the signing of Eredivisie hardman Patrick Zwaanswijk from NAC Breda for the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

The 191 centimetre giant has the experience of 11 seasons plying his trade in the Dutch top-flight, and, coupled with two seasons with Oita Trinita in the J-League, brings a wealth of football knowledge to the Central Coast, and plenty of bulk to an already well stocked Mariners defence.

He-s already done plenty of homework too, as he gets acquainted with what will become his new home.

"I know all the sites mate!" laughed Zwaanswijk from his home in the Netherlands.

"I know a lot about Terrigal, North Avoca, Avoca Beach, Wamberal, Gosford. I-m very well informed by Google, I know even which way to drive to Bluetongue Stadium as well.

"We are looking for a nice house, we want to get in as soon as possible, that way we can get to know the Australian people better and not stay in a hotel, its always difficult to do that," said Zwaanswijk.

After coming through the Academy at European giant Ajax Amsterdam, which produced the likes of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, along with Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Patrick Kluivert, Zwaanswijk began his senior career with FC Utrecht in 1998, and during his six seasons at the Stadion Galgenwaard, went on to become a cult hero, scoring 23 goals from the back in his 199 appearances and helping the club to back-to-back Cup titles.

The imposing Central Defender had a season in the J-League in 2004/05 before a return home to NAC Breda, a club well known to Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold, who scored 35 goals in 63 appearances to endear himself to fans during his time there in the mid 1990-s, an appreciation still evident amongst the current crop of the "Yellow Army" supporters.

Zwaanswijk-s reputation, too, rose quickly amongst NAC Breda fans, soon emulating the levels of adoration he enjoyed during his time at Utrecht.

"One of the most important things in football is that you get along with the fans and the sponsors, because they are the ones who make it possible for us to play professional football, so I think that is really important," said Zwaanswijk.

"When I played a good game or even when we lost I always made my way around the Stadium and thank all the supporters and clap for them, they always gave me a big welcome and my thanks go to them.

"All the sponsors and supporters wanted me to stay, there was a big campaign at the club.

"Everybody is saying ‘why did you sign in Australia, at this time you should stay with NAC Breda, but at that time Australia came, I was fond of Australia and the choice was made for me and my family," Zwaanswijk said.

Zwaanswijk has been virtually ever-present at the back in his five years in the Southern Dutch city, missing just 14 matches since his arrival in 2005, and netting 11 goals in his 185 appearances, whilst being an integral part of the clubs third placed Eredivisie finish in 2008/09 and subsequent run through Europe.

"Patrick is held is very high regard not only at NAC Breda but across the entire Eredivisie and he-s going to be a huge addition to the squad, both in size and in what he will bring to the table," said Arnold.

"You can-t buy the experience that Patrick has, and he has been playing regularly at a very high level, so I-m sure he will adapt to the A-League very well.

"His workrate and his attitude are second to none, he-s been a real fans favourite wherever he has been in the past, and I-m sure that will be no different here," Arnold said.

The now 35-year-old will arrive in Australia in the coming days to link up with his new teammates and begin preparations for the new Hyundai A-League season, where he will don the number 6 jersey for the Yellow and Navy-s sixth campaign.

"For three months Graham and I have been texting each other and calling each other to keep informed of how the situation is going. There were four or five clubs who were trying to get me to come to their club but I had the best feeling with Graham and with Australia.

"The connection between Graham and me is really great. He knows what kind of player I am and I know what kind of player he was, I don-t know what kind of coach he is but I can only imagine he-s really keen on working with all the guys to create the perfect mix for the new competition with the Central Coast Mariners," said Zwaanswijk.