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Forgotten football stars: Wesley Sneijder

Schalke 04 v Inter Milan - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final
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Wesley Sneijder is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Al-Gharafa SC in the Qatar Stars League.

Two weeks ago we started a new series on Ronaldo.com called ‘Forgotten football stars’ and talked about Samuel Eto’o. Today is Wesley Sneijder’s turn, another member of Inter’s treble-winning side from 2010.

Wesley Sneijder began his career in football through the ranks of the famous Ajax Youth Academy. He joined the club in 1991, at the age of seven and played through various age categories, before making his official debut in February 2003.

The midfielder, 18 years old at the time, quickly established himself in the first team and started in the Champions League quarter-finals against AC Milan. The fairytale continued for Sneijder as he received his first call up for the Dutch national team in April 2003 and made his debut in a friendly game against Portugal.

In the 2003-04 campaign, Sneijder was already a regular first team member in Ronald Koeman’s Ajax. He netted nine goals in 30 games and helped Ajax to win the Eredivisie for the first time in four years. The teenager was also awarded the Johan Cruyff Trophy, being named the Dutch Football Talent of the Year.

Sneijder won the KNVB Cup in 2006 and 2007 in his final two seasons at Ajax, before moving to Real Madrid for a fee of €27 million.

In his La Liga debut, Sneijder scored the winner in the Madrid derby against Atletico. He scored a total of nine goals in the 2007-08 campaign and won the Spanish League – the only trophy he won in his two-year spell at Santiago Bernabeu.

The Dutchman moved to Inter on 27 August 2009 and made his debut for the club two days later, making an immediate impact in a 4-0 victory against cross-town rivals AC Milan.

Sneijder enjoyed an amazing 2009-10 campaign, establishing himself as one of the best playmakers in European football. He guided the Nerazzurri to a historic treble, winning the major three competitions – Serie A, Coppa Italia, and the Champions League.

The midfielder also played a vital for his national team in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He finished the competition as a joint-topscorer with five goals, as the Netherlands reached the final. They suffered their third defeat at a World Cup final tough, losing 1-0 to Spain after Andres Iniesta’s 116th-minute winner.

Back at Inter, Wesley Sneijder won another Copa Italia trophy in the next season. At the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Sneijder fell out of favor in Inter as he and the club didn’t find a mutual agreement for the new contract. He left San Siro in January 2013, signing for Turkish side Galatasaray for a fee of €7.5 million.

Sneijder spent four and a half years in Istanbul, winning the Turkish Super Lig twice, as well as three times the Turkiye Kupasi. He had a short spell at Nice in 2017-18, before signing for Qatari club Al-Gharafa on 9 January 2018.

The midfielder played his final game for the Netherlands in September 2018, becoming the most capped player in the history of the national team with 134 appearances.