Wesley Sneijder

Wesley Sneijder

Sneijder with the Netherlands national team in 2012
Personal information
Full name Wesley Sneijder[1]
Date of birth (1984-06-09) 9 June 1984
Place of birth Utrecht, Netherlands
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[2]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 10
Youth career
1991–2002 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2007 Ajax 126 (43)
2007–2009 Real Madrid 52 (11)
2009–2013 Internazionale 76 (13)
2013– Galatasaray 104 (30)
National team
2000–2001 Netherlands U17 6 (2)
2001–2002 Netherlands U19 8 (3)
2003 Netherlands U21 1 (0)
2003– Netherlands 126 (30)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 27 October 2016.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 6 September 2016

Wesley Sneijder (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɛsli ˈsnɛi̯dər]; born 9 June 1984)[3] is a Dutch professional footballer who plays for Turkish club Galatasaray and the Netherlands national team as a midfielder. He was named UEFA midfielder of the season and one of the three best midfielders in the world for 2010 by FIFA. A product of the AFC Ajax Academy, he previously played for Ajax, with whom he won four trophies and was awarded the Johan Cruyff Trophy in 2004. He was sold to Real Madrid for €27 million in 2007, winning La Liga in his first season with the club and later being sold to Internazionale for €15 million. At Inter, he won Serie A, the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, and two Coppa Italia. After being sold to Galatasaray for €7.5 million in 2013, he helped the club win the Süper Lig in his first season, following with the capture of the Turkish Super Cup, after a 1–0 win against rivals Fenerbahçe.

Sneijder previously represented various youth squads for the Netherlands. He is now a regular player for the Dutch national team, making his debut in April 2003 at the age of 18, and representing his country at the 2006, 2010 (where the Netherlands were defeated 1–0 in the final) and 2014 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Football Championships. Individually, he was awarded the 2010 Bronze Boot, the 2010 Silver Ball, and included in the team of the tournament for Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, as well as named man of the match for six out of eleven games played by the Oranje at these two tournaments.[4] With 123 caps, he is their second-most capped player of all time, after Edwin van der Sar.

Club career

Wesley Sneijder was born on 9 June 1984 in Utrecht into a football family: his father was a player, his older brother Jeffrey played for a football team, and his younger brother Rodney plays for Scottish club Dundee United.


Sneijder started his career in AFC Ajax's famous youth academy. Following his older brother's footsteps, he signed for Ajax, initially on trial but subsequently impressed enough to be signed on a permanent basis. He first made the bench as an unused substitute for Ajax in a 2–0 win at SBV Excelsior on 22 December 2002 when manager Ronald Koeman, troubled by an injury-filled squad, called him up, advised by Danny Blind, the then-coach of the Ajax youth squad. On 2 February 2003, Sneijder made his official Ajax debut against Willem II in a 6–0 win.[5] He quickly established himself in the first team, starting in the Champions League quarter-final match against A.C. Milan on 23 April 2003.[6]

On 5 March 2003, Sneijder scored his first goal for Ajax in a 4–1 win over FC Groningen in the KNVB Cup.[7] On 13 April, he scored his first Eredivisie goal against NAC Breda in a 3–0 win.[8] He scored three further league goals in wins against Roda JC,[7] RKC Waalwijk[7] and De Graafschap.[7] The following season, he scored nine league goals[7] as Ajax won the 2003–04 Eredivisie title.[9] Sneijder's performances saw him awarded the Johan Cruijff Prijs for the season's best young player in the Netherlands.

On 14 September 2005, he scored his first Champions League goal in a group match against AC Sparta Praha.[10] Ajax qualified for the knockout stage, with Sneijder scoring again in a 4–2 win over FC Thun.[11]

On 7 May 2006, Sneijder was in the starting line-up for Ajax in the KNVB Cup final, setting up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's opening goal in a 2–1 win over PSV at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam.

During the 2006–07 season, Sneijder scored 18 goals in the Eredivisie and 20 goals overall.[7] On 6 May 2007, Sneijder played for Ajax in the final of the KNVB Cup as the team defeated AZ on a penalty shootout.[12]

On 12 August 2007, Ajax agreed to sell Sneijder to Real Madrid for 27 million, according to the club's website, making him the second most expensive Dutch football player.

Real Madrid

Sneijder playing for Real Madrid

Sneijder was the second of three Dutchmen to sign for Real Madrid 2007–08 season, joining Royston Drenthe and Arjen Robben. He also was given the number 23, which had been previously worn by David Beckham for four seasons at Real. In his first La Liga match for Real, he scored the winner in the Madrid Derby against Atlético Madrid. On the second matchday, he scored two goals against Villarreal CF, one of them on a direct free-kick. Sneijder capped a fine first season in Spain by hitting a stunning free kick in the last game of the season against Levante UD at the Santiago Bernabéu, taking his goal tally to nine in the La Liga season, a season which also saw Real retain their league title.

On 3 August 2008, Sneijder was stretchered off in the pre-season friendly at Arsenal with a suspected cruciate ligament injury after a collision with Abou Diaby. Sneijder had an MRI which confirmed the extent of the injury to be not as bad as first feared. It was expected that he would be out for at least three months.[13] He managed, however, to recover in time and was included in the starting XI for the Champions League clash against Juventus in Turin.

On 2 September 2008, AS reported that after Robinho's departure to Manchester City for €42 million, Sneijder would now be Real Madrid's new number 10.[14] One day later, Real Madrid confirmed on their website that Sneijder would wear 10. His previous number, 23, was taken over by his fellow Dutchman and former Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart,[15] whose preferred number is 23.



On 27 August 2009, Sneijder was bought by Internazionale from Real Madrid for a reported fee of 15 million.[16][17] He was given the number 10 shirt and made his debut a day after he signed the contract, making an immediate impact by being on the winning side in the Milan Derby (4–0) against Milan.[18] On 3 October 2009, he scored his first goal in the 92nd minute against Udinese in a 2–1 win.[19][20] His second goal was scored on 24 October 2009 against Catania, directly from a free kick, and he scored his first Champions League goal for Inter in a dramatic 2–1 group stage win against Dynamo Kyiv in the 89th minute. His next goal was also scored off a hard-swerving free kick in a Coppa Italia game against Livorno.

On 9 January 2010, he scored two stunning free kicks against Siena in the game which Inter won 4–3. On 24 January, he received a straight red card in the Milan derby. On 6 April, Sneijder scored a free kick against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League quarter-final in the sixth minute, to give Inter a 2–0 aggregate win. On 20 April, he scored Inter's equalising goal during their Champions League semi-final first leg against defending champions Barcelona. He leveled the game by firing in right-footed from a Diego Milito pass. Inter went on to win the game 3–1 and the tie 3–2 on aggregate. Sneijder was given the nickname "The Sniper" by the media for his ability to deliver perfect passes and score from impressive distances.[21]

On 22 May, Inter won the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich by a score of 2–0. Both goals were scored by Diego Milito, with Sneijder supplying the assist for the first goal.[22] The Champions League was Inter's third trophy of the 2009–10 season after winning the Coppa Italia and Serie A titles.


Sneijder playing for Inter in 2010

On 21 August 2010, Inter started the 2010–11 season by winning the 2010 Italian Super Cup with a 3–1 win against Roma.[23] On 26 August, Sneijder was named by UEFA as the best club midfielder of the 2009–10 Champions League.[24] The day after, at Monaco's Stade Louis II, Inter lost to UEFA Europa League winners Atlético Madrid in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup.[25] He scored his first goal of the season in a 2–2 draw against Twente in the Champions League on 14 September, and followed that up with another goal in Inter's second game against Werder Bremen in a 4–0 win at the San Siro on 29 September.[26][27] On 26 October, Sneijder was shortlisted for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or award, which Barcelona's Lionel Messi won.[28] On 28 October, Sneijder signed a five-year contract extension with Inter, tying him to the club until 2015.[29] Inter finished second in Group A of the Champions League and were drawn against Bayern Munich (whom they had beaten in the previous season's final) in the round of 16. In the first leg, Sneijder and Inter were uninspired and lost 1–0 to a late Mario Gómez goal at the San Siro.[30] On 15 March 2011, Sneijder helped Inter turn it around, scoring in the 63rd-minute leading to a 3–2 win (3–3 on aggregate, Inter progressing on away goals)[31] at the Allianz Arena,[32] booking a place in the quarter-final against Germany's Schalke 04.[33] The first leg of that quarter-final ended 5–2 to Schalke. Sneijder also played in the second leg of the tie but could not prevent his team from losing 2–1 and 7–3 on aggregate.


After reportedly falling out of favour with Inter due to contract renewal issues, Sneijder agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish giants Galatasaray on 20 January 2013 for a fee of €7.5 million.[34] Thousands of Galatasaray fans welcomed the Dutch international at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport as soon as Sneijder's exact arrival time was announced by the club on their official website.[35] Sneijder signed the official contract on 21 January at the Türk Telekom Arena, home of Galatasaray. During the press conference, regarding the questions about Gala legend Gheorghe Hagi, Sneijder said, "He was a legend, and I want to become a legend."[36] Later, he appeared on the club's official TV station Galatasaray TV, where he answered several questions about his transfer to Galatasaray and personal life. He also sent out a message addressing the Galatasaray fans: "Thank you for the support. I'm really proud, and I will make you guys even more proud. I'm happy to be here, and I can't wait to play my first game for you guys."[37]


On 27 January, Sneijder made his debut, coming on as a substitute in a 2–1 win against rivals Beşiktaş.[38] Sneijder received a warm reception when he replaced Umut Bulut. He scored his first goal on 25 February in a 4–2 home win against Orduspor, where he produced a finesse shot from the edge of the box, turning the game back on for the home side as Galatasaray were down by two goals.[39] On 9 April 2013, Sneijder scored Galatasaray's second goal in a 3–2 win over his former club Real Madrid in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.[40] On 5 May 2013, Galatasaray beat Sivasspor 2–1 to win the 2012–13 Süper Lig, this gave Sneijder a league title in a fourth different country.[41]


After using the number 14 shirt in his debut season with Galatasaray, Sneijder was given the number 10 shirt previously worn by Felipe Melo for the 2013–14 Süper Lig season following a squad number reshuffle. On 1 December 2013, when Galatasaray drew with Kasımpaşa Spor Kulübü,[42] Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini, in response to the question "where is Sneijder?" asked by reporters during a post-match interview answered, "Sneijder has left and I do not know where he has gone,"[43] while Galatasaray's official website had earlier informed the media on the reason for Sneijder's absence.

On 11 December 2013, Sneijder scored a late winning goal against Juventus in a 1–0 UEFA Champions League win to qualify Galatasaray for the knockout phase.[44] On 2 February 2014, Sneijder scored a hat-trick in Süper Lig encounter against Bursaspor in a 6–0 win.[45]

On 6 April 2014, he scored his first derby goal against rivals Fenerbahçe, in a 1–0 home win.[46] On 7 May 2014, Sneijder played a major part in the Turkish Cup final against Eskişehirspor, scoring the only goal of the game in the 70th minute and receiving the Man of the Match award for his performance.[47]


Sneijder scored ten goals throughout the season during the 2014–15 Süper Lig campaign. By almost single-handedly winning many games for his team, he has been the man in the spotlight for Galatasaray in securing the league title. On 25 May, Sneijder celebrated the championship alongside Gala fans at the front yard of his residence[48] after Başakşehir drew with Fenerbahçe,[49] which brought Galatasaray the triumph. During the official title ceremony,[50][51] Sneijder sang the famous Gala chant "Don't cry Fener"[52] into the microphone in front of 52000 Gala fans.[53]

Since his arrival, Sneijder has become the most efficient agent for the Lions regarding the Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray rivalry. He has scored three goals against Fenerbahçe in league matches in a year, which is more than enough for Galatasaray society to name a player a club legend. In the home game against Fenerbahçe, which was played on matchday 6,[54] Sneijder sent out two long-range rockets in the 88th and 90th minutes, where Galatasaray claimed the victory against their bitter rivals. Overall, he has scored six long-range goals and three free kicks in league and cup games. In his 100th game for Galatasaray, he also scored the only goal against Gençlerbirliği on matchday 32,[55] which helped the Lions stay at the top of the league table for the time being.

In the 2014–15 Turkish Cup, he also helped his team reach the final by providing three goals and three assists. Galatasaray won the final 3–2 against Bursaspor[56] which was held in Bursa Atatürk Stadium on 3 June. Sneijder assisted the first goal[57] off of striker Burak Yılmaz's hat-trick.

During Galatasaray's 2014–15 UEFA Champions League campaign, where they were knocked out at the group stage, Sneijder scored one goal–a late free kick against Arsenal at home–and made one assist. Sneijder is currently the vice captain of Galatasaray.


Sneijder began the season scoring the only goal for his team in the 35th Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu, where Galatasaray visited Real Madrid on 18 August.[58] The game ended with a 2–1 victory for Real Madrid.

On matchday 3 of the 2015–16 Süper Lig[59] in which Galatasaray visited Konyaspor, Sneijder scored two goals in the second half[60] and led his team to a 1–4 away win,[61] despite his side being down to ten men after Lionel Carole's 67th-minute red card, receiving prior to Sneijder's double.[62]

On 3 October, Sneijder signed a three-year contract extension with Galatasaray. He immediately received a €1.3 million signing bonus, and his basic salaries in the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons would be €3.2 million, plus various bonuses.[63]

International career

Sneijder (left) with Arjen Robben and Nigel de Jong lining up for the Netherlands in 2012

Sneijder made his debut for the Netherlands under-21 side against the Czech Republic on 28 March 2003.[64] His first game with the senior Dutch side was against Portugal on 30 April that same year[65] when he became the eighth-youngest player to play for the Netherlands in the first team's history.

Euro 2004

Sneijder reached the UEFA Euro 2004 semi-finals with the Netherlands. He began the competition mainly on the bench, and was subbed into two group stage matches: his team's first match against Germany and their third match against Latvia. He had also contributed two goals in the qualifying tournament.

2006 World Cup

Sneijder taking a free kick while Rafael van der Vaart looks on

Sneijder started all four games for the Netherlands at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He received one of the record 16 yellow cards doled out during the infamous Round of 16 clash with Portugal (titled the "Battle of Nuremberg") after pushing the Portuguese midfielder Petit to the ground during a brawl between Portuguese and Dutch players; Portugal went on to win 1–0.

Euro 2008

In the build-up to Euro 2008, Sneijder scored a free kick in a friendly against Wales on 31 May, making it his second strike from a direct free kick in a row. The game ended 2–0 with a goal from fellow Real Madrid teammate Arjen Robben.

Sneijder marked his 24th birthday in style by scoring one of the goals of the tournament; the second goal in the 31st minute of the Euro 2008 match against the World Cup champions, Italy. Following Giovanni van Bronckhorst's goal-line clearance and subsequent run into the Italian half, Sneijder received a headed ball from Dirk Kuyt and volleyed it with an acrobatic strike past Gianluigi Buffon. This brought the score to 2–0 after Ruud van Nistelrooy's opener five minutes prior. The match finished with a 3–0 victory to the Dutch after a third goal was scored by van Bronkhorst after another run by him, following a crucial save from Edwin van der Sar. Sneijder's goal contributed to the Netherlands' first victory over Italy in 30 years, which was the biggest defeat Italy had suffered since Sweden beat them by the same margin in 1983. Many fans and pundits agreed that this goal was one of the best of the tournament. On 13 June, he scored another goal for the Oranje in the Euro 2008 group stage match against France: in the 92nd minute, from outside the box, Sneijder struck the ball into the corner of the net, bouncing off the crossbar on its way in. The match finished 4–1 for the Netherlands. Although the Dutch lost to the Russians in the quarter-final, Sneijder was named in the Team of the Tournament for his strong performances.

2010 World Cup

Sneijder the day before the Dutch team's departure to South Africa

Sneijder was in the starting line-up for their first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark.[66] He scored the winning goal in a 1–0 victory over Japan.[67] In the first two matches of the group stage at the FIFA World Cup, he was selected as the man of the match in both.[68][69][70] In the Netherlands' round of 16 match against Slovakia, Sneijder scored in a 2–1 victory.[71] He also provided what was at first thought to be an assist for the first goal against Brazil in the quarter-finals, but was later credited with the goal.[72] He then scored the first header of his career direct from a corner and consigned Brazil to a 2–1 defeat, bringing his goal total in the tournament to four. Sneijder was again named man of the match on FIFA's website.[73]

In the semi-final against Uruguay, Sneijder scored in the 70th minute, taking his total in the competition to five, raising him at the time to first place in terms of goals scored, along with Spain's David Villa.[74] The Netherlands won the match 3–2 and progressed to the final. Sneijder was yet again named on FIFA's website as the Budweiser man of the match according to the public online vote.[75] In the World Cup Final, the Dutch lost to Spain 1–0 after extra time, conceding the only goal of the match after 116 minutes to Andrés Iniesta.[76]

Euro 2012

For Euro 2012, the Netherlands were in Group B, also known as the "group of death," alongside Portugal, Germany, and Denmark. Sneijder was deployed as an attacking midfielder as the Netherlands lost 1–0 and 2–1 to Denmark and Germany, respectively. Against Portugal, they lost again 2–1, with Sneijder playing on the left wing to see the Netherlands have an early exit from Euro 2012.

2014 World Cup

In August 2012, after the retirement of Mark van Bommel, Sneijder was named as captain of the Netherlands.[77] Less than a year later, however, he was replaced with Robin van Persie by coach Louis van Gaal.[78]

Sneijder was named by in the Netherlands' squad for the 2014 World Cup and made his 100th international appearance in the team's opening match, a 5–1 demolition of world champions Spain on 13 June. In the round of 16, Sneijder scored an 88th-minute equaliser, as the Netherlands recovered from a 0–1 deficit to overcome Mexico 2–1 in Fortaleza.

In the quarter-final, Sneijder scored the Netherlands' third kick in a 4–3 penalty shootout defeat of Costa Rica.[79] The semi-final match against Argentina was also decided by a shootout, with Sneijder one of two Netherlands players to have his kick saved by goalkeeper Sergio Romero in a 4–2 defeat.[80] Sneijder was originally part of the Dutch starting line-up in the bronze game against Brazil, but he was replaced by Jonathan de Guzmán after an injury during the pre-match warm-up prevented him from playing.

International goals

Scores and results list Netherlands' goal tally first.

Career statistics


Statistics accurate as of 13 November 2016.[81]
Club Season League Cup Europe Other[nb 1] Total
Ajax 2002–03 1743130235
2003–04 30910713810
2004–05 307317011419
2005–06 1953274213112
2006–07 30184191424722
Total 126431453367418058
Real Madrid 2007–08 309205010389
2008–09 222204000282
Total 52114090106611
Internazionale 2009–10 26441113418
2010–11 254209330397
2011–12 204205011285
2012–13 51003182
Total 7613812874111622
Galatasaray 2012–13 12341164
2013–14 28126372104217
2014–15 31106361104414
2015–16 255608010405
2016–17 80001090
Total 104301862544015140
Career total 3589744129517165513131


Statistics accurate as of 13 November 2016.[82]
Netherlands national team

Style of play

A creative and versatile midfielder,[83][84] Sneijder has been recognised as one of the classic playmakers of the 2010s.[85][86][87] From his impeccable placement and confirmed ability to score from free kicks, Sneijder earned the reputation as a dead-ball specialist.[88][89] Of short stature, he is quick and strong on the ball, and his passing range is enhanced by his ambidexterity;[90] he is also a renowned for his powerful striking ability from long range, with either foot.[83] In addition to his vision and ability to create chances for team-mates, Sneijder has also been noted for his intelligence and great technical ability.[83][91][92][93] Although he began his career in his preferred role as an attacking midfielder behind the forwards, he is capable of playing in several midfield positions and has also been deployed on the wings or on occasion even up front as a second striker or main striker;[84][86][93] in recent seasons, he has usually played in the centre,[84] as a deep-lying playmaker, due to his ability to dictate the tempo of his team's play in midfield with his passing, although he has stated that he deos not favour this position.[84][94] During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he was also deployed in a new role which was later described as a false-10 or central winger, due to Sneijder's tendency to drift from the centre into a wide position when in possession of the ball.[95][96] Despite his talent he has also drawn criticism at times for his limited defensive work-rate as well as his lack of pace, and has also been known to be prone to injury.[84][93]

Personal life

Sneijder has been married to Dutch-Spanish actress and presenter Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen since July 2010; he has three sons one of them from his first marriage. Inspired by his wife and by Inter teammate Javier Zanetti, Sneijder converted to Roman Catholicism and was baptized in Milan.[97]

Sneijder has two brothers: Jeffrey, a former footballer,[98] and Rodney, who plays for Scottish club Dundee United. In May 2008, it was reported that Sneijder had blocked a summer transfer of Rodney to his own club at the time, Real Madrid. Wesley Sneijder said, "Real Madrid wanted him and Rodney was very happy about that. But when I heard [of it], I stopped the discussions. I am not in favour of juniors increasingly going to top clubs. I've told him that he first must make a breakthrough at Ajax."[99][100]

During an interview in a radio station in Thessaloniki, Sneijder's brother Rodney confirmed that he and Wesley Sneijder (along with their other brother Jeffrey) have Greek descent, since their grandmother (their father's mother) was a Greek woman born in Kavala and moved to Utrecht before the World War II.[101]


In October 2008, Dutch magazine Voetbal International conducted a poll to decide who was the best Dutch free kick taker. Sneijder received an overwhelming 70% of the votes, while Robin van Persie came second with 21% and striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was third with 3% of the vote.[102] He was voted as the best player of the 2009–10 season by Goal.com.[103]



Sneijder (left, with a Vuvuzela) and John Heitinga were teammates at Ajax
Real Madrid[104]
Sneijder at Schiphol departing for the World Cup


Netherlands Netherlands[104]



  1. Includes other competitive competitions, including the Johan Cruijff-schaal, Eredivisie playoffs, Supercopa de España, Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup


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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wesley Sneijder.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mark van Bommel
Netherlands captain
Succeeded by
Robin van Persie
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