Dutch legend knew Ricky van Wolfswinkel would not succeed at City

Ricky van Wolfswinkel endured a mixed season on loan at St Etienne.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel endured a mixed season on loan at St Etienne. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

A legendary Dutch international knew immediately that Ricky van Wolfswinkel's ill-fated time at Norwich City would not be a success - and was not shy of making this known.

From the very moment the unfortunate striker first turned out for the Canaries, it became clear to his father-in-law, Netherlands international Johan Neeskens, that it would not be a fruitful spell for van Wolfswinkel.

And he shared this hypothesis with former City physio Tim Sheppard, telling him how his son-in-law just didn't fit the playing style of the then Chris Hughton side.

Sheppard was attending a game as a guest of the club during van Wolfswinkel's maiden season at Carrow Road and got chatting with the former Barcelona star, who was capped 49 times during a golden era for his country.

And the Dutchman told Sheppard he could see no way of his countryman succeeding as a Canary unless the playing style drastically changed.

Sheppard said: "I sat next to him at lunch before the game and we got chatting and he said to me, and I'll always remember this, he will never score goals in this team."

This was not, however, a slight on the Dutchman. 

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He added: "They (Norwich) do not slip balls into the channels or get balls into the box and he will get fed up with making curved runs. Why is he there?"

After the game, the pair met once again.

Sheppard said: "When he saw me after the game he turned to me and said 'see what I mean?' I said that I did.

"He was also quite frustrated by the way they would play the ball to Nathan Redmond's feet. When you've got a boy with the pace he has, why not give him something to run onto, rather than expecting him to beat his man with the ball at his feet?"

In the end, Neeskins' prediction proved to be on the money, with the record signing registering just two goals in yellow and green.

"Being able to rub shoulders and talk football with brilliant minds like Johan Neeskens was a real privilege and something I will always remember."

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