Van Huizen looking for more after dream debut
A chorus of cheers rang out around the stadium as the fourth official’s board went up to signal Singapore’s No.20 coming on for Faris Ramli.
It was none other than Van Huizen, who has been the talk of town this year for his rapid rise from reality football TV show First XI to Malaysia Super League club LionsXII.
The raucous reception from the Singaporean fans left the 22-year-old pleasantly surprised as he went up against his idol Shinji Kagawa, albeit for just 10 minutes.
“No man, I didn’t expect that from the fans and that gave me goosebumps!” said Van Huizen after the national team’s training sessions at Geylang Field a day after the game.
“I was having butterflies in my stomach when I was warming up, but I just told myself it’s a LionsXII game - just that tempo and pace is much faster.
“It was great to play against Kagawa because I have supported Man United since I was a kid. He’s one of the few Asian players apart from Park Ji-sung to have played for the club so I really looked up to him.
“There was this corner kick where Kagawa was really near me and I had that little bit of fanboy moment. However I couldn’t let it out as I have to be professional.
“But that said, being up against these players amazing. My cousins were telling me that they always thought of standing beside Kagawa, but it was me who actually did it.”
It was truly a dream international debut for Van Huizen, but the former Tampines Rovers Prime League player is not ready to rest on his laurels just yet.
He now wants to be known for more than just being a ‘super-sub’ for his exploits off the bench.
“For now, it’s understandable and I’m okay with it,” said Van Huizen, who has two goals and seven assists to his name this season.
“But at whichever club I’ll be playing for next year, I have to up my fitness in pre-season to show the coaches that I can play the full 90 minutes and not just be an impact player.”
Next up for Singapore in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers is Syria and Van Huizen is hoping to do more if handed the opportunity to come on.
“Apart from getting more minutes, I also want to get better in other areas,” said the lad who will turn 23 on November 28.
“I want to get more of the ball and learn to be comfortable at international level. It won’t be easy because I only just turned professional recently, but gradually I’ll be able to cope.”