After two years of absence Hans Hateboer was suddenly back in the Dutch team against Poland last Friday. In the absence of the brand new father Denzel Dumfries, he seized his chance as a right backer. The assist in the winning goal of Steven Bergwijn came from the Groninger of Atalanta Bergamo.
On 4 June 2018 Hateboer went a bit wrong against Italy, Monday evening again the opponent in the Johan Cruijff Arena. It was the last time national coach Ronald Koeman played with a 5-3-2 system, with Hateboer on the right flank. After a mediocre first half, he was replaced at halftime.
The Dutch went on successfully with a 4-3-3 system and other right backs were preferred afterwards. For Hateboer, all that time, there was nothing more in it than a raid against Belgium. Until interim-bond coach Lodeweges gave him another chance on Friday, in a four-man defense.
“He’s earned that spot,” says former international and former rightback Sonny Silooy. “For the past few years, he’s played weekly level games in Series A and the Champions League. All pluses. He’s shown it. That’s good for the Dutch, too.”
“Hateboer has always been a talented player, but his years in Italy have made him a truly mature player,” says another former international and former right-wing backer, Edward Sturing. “He’s good at playing football, has walking ability and can cover the whole flank.”
After the Nations League game with Poland, Hateboer expressed his joy in front of the camera of the CCeit. “I was glad that I could finally show it again,” he said. “The last time didn’t go quite right. I also thought of myself that I had to retaliate and I’m glad that I showed myself.”
Also, Hateboer was happy to show his value as a rightback. “Long time since I’ve played 4-3-3,” he said. “That was the consideration, wasn’t it? Can he do it in 4-3-3? Then it’s nice that I’ve done my bit in this system of attacking as well.”
Step up to Juventus?
Hateboer moved from FC Groningen to Atalanta in January 2017. With the Italian club, he finished third in Serie A last season and made it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, in which Paris Saint-Germain finally blocked the Italians’ way.
“When he opted for a foreign adventure in 2017, Vitesse was also interested, I remember”, continues Sturing, then assistant coach at the Arnhemmers. “His choice worked out well.”
In the meantime Hateboer is already thinking of a step higher. Italian media recently reported that champion Juventus is interested in the 26-year-old right back. “That’s not for nothing,” says Silooy. “Then you’ve got something on your mind. He’s really got something on his mind.”
Dumfries or Hateboer?
For Silooy and Sturing, Hateboer and Dumfries are the best right backs of the Dutch Team at the moment. The other rightbacks that passed the last couple of years are among them, according to the former internationals. “Those two are really on top for me,” says Sturing.
Silooy: “They look a bit like each other. Dumfries is also a modern back. With depth, speed, physically strong. Defensive Dumfries is better. A good right back sees the space. Defending is looking ahead. Anticipate.”
But who will be the number one in the Dutch Team? Denzel Dumfries rejoined the squad on Saturday after being absent due to the birth of his son. The question is whether Hateboer should give up his place again to the PSV’er.
“Dumfries was the number one, but I’m curious.” “It’s close together. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hateboer plays against Italy again. He’s done well and he knows the Italian players well.”