Arnhem born and bred Andy van der Meyde was spotted by an Ajax scout at the age of 15 whilst playing for amateur team Vitesse 1892. As a fan of the Amsterdam side, the teenage winger didn’t have to think twice after receiving an invitation to join the ranks of the illustrious Ajax youth academy. Oozing with confidence, talent and plenty of potential, it was only a matter of time before Andy would take centre stage in the Amsterdam ArenA.
Fast-forward 10 years later, Van der Meyde found himself fallen out of favour at Premier League outfit Everton, drowning his god-given talent in Bacardi, cocaine and women. The player once considered one of the best wingers in Europe failed to ignore the temptations of Liverpool nightlife, squandering his once so promising career in the process.
Andy van der Meyde vs AZ Alkmaar pic.twitter.com/9D3klXUa9E
— AjaxDaily Video (@ajaxdailydottv) September 5, 2017
Van der Meyde was part of one of the most talented, successful and stacked Ajax teams in recent history. After establishing himself as a first team regular in the 2000/01 season – playing alongside future football icons such as Rafael van der Vaart, Nigel de Jong, Maxwell and Zlatan Ibrahimović – he quickly made name for himself as a conventional Ajax winger, defined by dexterous dribbling and accurate crosses.
Under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman, that Ajax side would go on to reach the Champions League quarter-final in 2002/03. Despite being eliminated by Milan after a dramatic last-minute goal from the Italians, both the team and it’s individual players had left an emphatic mark in international football. Van der Meyde had already done so earlier during the campaign, scoring a screamer in and against Roma after just 36 seconds of play.
Andy van der Meyde vs AS Roma pic.twitter.com/4rtySmKBFJ
— AjaxDaily Video (@ajaxdailydottv) 5 september 2017
We all know how it goes. As soon as a Ajacied stands out from the crowd he is bound to be tempted by fat paychecks of Europe’s bigger clubs, as was the case with Van der Meyde. Unfortunately for him, his €12 million move to Internazionale marked the beginning of the end of his career. He made 32 appearances for the Italian giants over the course of two seasons, but failed to become an undisputed first team regular.
Following his departure from Inter Milan in 2005 there were rumors of a return to Ajax – as well as interest from Tottenham Hotspur and AS Monaco – but instead Van der Meyde signed with Everton. And that’s where the definitive demise of his career set in. Being one of the highest paid players at the Liverpool side at that time, the sky became the limit for the Dutchman: “I bought a Ferrari and the first stop was the Newz Bar, a popular place in Liverpool. After a couple of hours of alcohol I drove to the nearest strip club. Getting drunk in a strip club in the middle of Liverpool was not very smart. But I had a strong longing for naked women.”
Having made just 20 Premier League appearances over the course of four seasons, things would take a turn for the worse after Everton decided to release Van der Meyde in 2009: “I took coke and alcohol and partied seven days a week. I couldn’t concentrate on football or anything else for that matter. Partying was what my life was about. Liverpool is dangerous if you don’t know how to control yourself. I realised Liverpool would kill me. I needed to leave.”
And leave he did. Van der Meyde made an attempt to reignite his career at Ajax rivals PSV, but decided to hang up his football boots after not making a single official appearance in Eindhoven that season. Clean, sober and disillusioned, Andy now earns his money as somewhat of a TV personality in Holland. Unfortunately, we’ll never find out how far his star could’ve reached on the football pitch. Van der Meyde played 122 official games for Ajax, scoring 21 and assisting 33 goals.