Huijsen (17) succeeds father ‘Maradonny’: ‘I can resist temptations better’

Moving from the Netherlands to Spain at a young age, playing football for years in the youth of professional club Málaga, training with the first Juventus and now playing the European Championship in Israel with the Orange squad under 17.

It is no exaggeration to say that 17-year-old Dean Huijsen is walking a completely different path than other boys and girls of his age.

Huijsen’s family background is also not average. He is the son of former professional football player Donny Huijsen, who was once seen as a top talent. Donny played one match for Ajax, was nicknamed ‘Maradonny’ at HFC Haarlem, but was never really able to fulfill his promise. Peripheral matters got a hold of him.

For example, Donny, who also played for Go Ahead Eagles, AZ and MVV, would have had close contact with criminals Willem Holleeder and the late Cor van Hout at Haarlem. In his time as a professional football player, he was also a welcome guest in Amsterdam’s nightlife establishments.

In 2006, Donny Huijsen was sentenced to five years in prison for cocaine trafficking. He was acquitted on appeal.

He later left for Spain with his family, including the then 5-year-old Dean. That’s where Dean came on Málaga’s radar and went on to play in the youth academy at that club.

no parties

For the time being, Dean is not only tackling it differently from his peers, but also from his own father. Both on and off the field. “I think I can resist the temptations better. If I have to play football, I don’t go to parties. Of course he went, haha.”

Also as a football player, Dean does not resemble his father. Donny was a forward, while Dean is a tall (1.95m) two-legged central defender. Despite the differences with his father, the mutual bond is good.

“My father occasionally gives tips. Of course he knows what defenders find annoying. He also tries to protect me from mistakes he made.”

Juventus instead of Real Madrid

Last summer Huijsen junior was in the interest of several top clubs, including Real Madrid. However, he chose Juventus. Father and mother moved with them to Italy. “In Spain you regularly play against amateur clubs, even if you play at a professional club. At Juventus, the focus is really on defense. That took some getting used to in the beginning. Then I was regularly scolded by fellow players and trainers.”

Yet Huijsen is not only busy in defending in Italy. He has already scored seven league goals for Juventus under 17 this season. So he does have scoring in common with his father, who also had a nose for the goal. “I score from penalties and standard situations. I’m good on the ball and have the urge to go forward.”

In that respect, Huijsen resembles another Dutch defender who is employed by Juventus: Matthijs de Ligt. “We are quite similar in style.” It was therefore great for Huijsen to train with the first team. “It went well, although it was tough. Those top players are smart and physically strong.”

He also spoke to De Ligt during that training. Off the field, the two Dutchmen do not have much contact. “Although I do have it on Instagram.”

‘Speak Dutch at home’

Huijsen’s slightly Amsterdam accent suggests that, like De Ligt, he has Ajax as his favorite Dutch club. “I am indeed a fan of Ajax because of my father, although I have to say that I don’t have a lot of feeling about it.”

After all, Huijsen has been living abroad for much longer than in the Netherlands and is fluent in Spanish (and a little Italian). Just like De Ligt, Huijsen wants to play for the Dutch national team one day. “I feel Dutch. We also speak Dutch at home.”

And that is why Huijsen is now playing with his Dutch peers at the European Championship under 17 in Israel. The Netherlands is defending champion. The first group match against Bulgaria was won 3-1.

“If we reach our level, then we can win the tournament. That’s what we’re going for. Why else would you go to a European Championship? We have really good players. The Netherlands is a great football country.”