Clubs: AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord, Aston Villa FC
• Emerged from nowhere in the spring of 2005 to appear in both legs of AZ Alkmaar's UEFA Cup semi-final against Sporting Clube de Portugal and star for the Jong Oranje at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil a few weeks later.
• Left AZ for Feyenoord midway through the 2005/06 season and immediately became a regular for the Rotterdam club, but a foot injury forced him to miss the first half of the following campaign and cruciate ligament damage sustained in September 2007 kept him out of action for two years.
• Helped the Netherlands to victory in the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Portugal and skippered the team to a repeat triumph on home soil 12 months later – though he missed the final against Serbia through injury.
• Capped for the first time at senior level in October 2005, in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic, he revived his international prospects following a resounding recovery from injury in 2009/10, when he made 32 Eredivisie starts for Feyenoord and scored four goals.
• An ever-present for Feyenoord in the 2011/12 Eredivisie campaign, he was a key figure as the club finished runners-up to AFC Ajax, warranting selection for Bert van Marwijk's UEFA EURO 2012 squad.
• After a disappointing time in Poland and Ukraine, where the Dutch lost all three group games, he signed for Aston Villa and was named captain after Stiliyan Petrov was forced to retire. Helped the club avoid relegation in his first season while playing seven times as he aided the Netherlands in a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.
UEFA European Under-21 Championship: winner 2006, 2007
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