AZ Alkmaar keeper Oscar Moens must have been delighted to hear that ex- Holland midfielder Wim Van Hanegem had been appointed assistant to new Dutch national coach Dick Advocaat.
Van Hanegem never stopped raving about Moens’ ability during his time in charge of AZ in thelate 1990s, and the keeper will surely have an influential man in his corner when the composition of the ‘Oranje’ squad is discussed.
Not that Moens’ international future is dependent on friends in high places. It was only thanks to his outstanding form this season for AZ that ex-Holland coach Louis Van Gaal called him up for the November friendly with Denmark. And the 28-year-old, who had made his only other appearance in 1998, against Ghana, very much looked the part.
Of course, Fulham’s Edwin Van der Sar remains Holland’s number one keeper. But Moens has done a good job of lobbying for the back-up spot, and there is every chance he will make it his own.
“I feel even better about playing for Holland than I did the first time,” said Moens. “I see my return to the national side as a reward for a good spell of form and as a great victory for me.”
The keeper has come a long way since the trials and tribulations that put his career in jeopardy some 18 months ago. In dispute with AZ chairman Dirk Scheringa over his image rights, Moens unwisely decided to call in sick at the start of last season and was promptly suspended from the first team.
However, at the start of 2001 top-flight strugglers RBC Roosendaal took him on loan and almost six months of inactivity were at an end.
Often criticised for his casual attitude and for overdoing the nocturnal antics, Moens this time dug deep to fight back. Although RBC were eventually relegated, the keeper’s valiant and assured performances in a lost cause convinced AZ to give him another chance this season, when he has continued to impress with his reflexes, athleticism and authority.
Over the years, Moens has been linked with Manchester United, Rangers, Barcelona, Lazio, Fiorentina, Roma and Napoli, only for their interest to fade away. It should be a different story now that a new and improved Moens has emerged.
Club AZ Alkmaar
Born April 1, 1973, in ‘s-Gravenzande
Previous clubs MSV’71, SVV Schiedam, Ajax, Excelsior Rotterdam, Go Ahead Eagles, AZ Alkmaar, RBC Roosendaal
International debut October 1998, v Ghana
International caps 2
Honours Dutch League 1998 (Ajax)