The Netherlands’ goalkeeper was uncapped before Qatar – now he is Louis van Gaal’s first choice going into the knockout stage
The story of Andries Noppert’s journey to be the Netherlands first-choice goalkeeper at the Qatar World Cup is a beacon of hope and inspiration. Elite football can be unforgiving and hard-edged, so step forward a genial 6ft 8in 28-year-old whose refusal to believe a serious knee injury had ended his career does, as he suggests, offer “inspiration to children” that dreams should always be chased.
When Noppert was chosen by Louis van Gaal for the Netherlands’ victory over Senegal in their opening Group A match, he was handed an international debut in only his 51st senior match. Noppert might have given up during any of a peripatetic eight years that began when signing for Heerenveen in 2013 and included 12 months out with the knee problem he sustained in October 2019.