Having gone from signing his first professional forms to his debut for the Dutch senior side in little over four-and-a-half years, 21 year-old Vurnon Anita’s rise to prominence has been fast and his transition through age group football seamless. Yet another in a long line of gifted footballers of Central American extraction to represent the Netherlands (Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit are others that can be counted amongst their number), Anita is a quick, stocky and powerful left-back (think a more positionally aware version of Royston Drenthe) also capable of playing as a holding midfielder or in a more advanced position on the left side. He may have narrowly missed out on selection for the World Cup after being cut from the preliminary squad last week, but the Ajax player has a bright future ahead of him and impressed last season as a part of Martin Jol’s youthful squad at the Amsterdam Arena.
The full-back began his career on the Netherlands Antilles island of Curaçao where he played for the youth teams of local club CVV Willemstad between the ages of 7 and 8 before moving to Holland with his family in 1997 and joining Maarssen in Utrecht. It was during his time at Maarssen that he was scouted by Ajax, eventually joining the Amsterdam club’s famed youth academy – De Toekomst – in 1999. Since then Anita’s career has gone from strength to strength, representing the Netherlands at U-17, U-19 and U-21 level whilst working his way through the ranks in Amsterdam to make his first team debut against Groningen towards the end of the 2005-06 Eredivisie season.
In the years that have passed since his first senior Ajax appearance, the full-back has gone on to become a regular for the Godenzonen, making 23 league appearances during the 2009/10 season to establish himself as Jol’s first-choice left-back and play his way into the thoughts of national team coach Bert van Marwijk. A surprise call-up to the provisional World Cup squad followed, Anita making his debut for the Oranje in the team’s 2-1 victory over Mexico last Wednesday. He may not be traveling to South Africa with the Dutch squad this summer, but, if he continues to improve at his current rate, it will only be a matter of time before he replaces the ageing Giovanni van Bronkhorst in the side and starts to become a regular on the international stage.