From his birthplace in Borne in the Dutch region Twente, the border of Germany is twenty kilometers away, so perhaps it is not surprising that, according to critics, Wout Weghorst sometimes behaves too much like a stereotypical German. His primordial cries, lasting for seconds after scoring a goal. His fanaticism, during matches but also during training. Opponents and fellow players were got so annoyed with him that they wanted to kick him. In fact, they sometimes did.
After AZ lost the Dutch cup final to Feyenoord in 2018, Weghorst falls to his knees crying. ‘As if he has lost his family in a plane crash’, commentator Johan Derksen sneered at the television program Voetbal Inside. The day after the lost final, reserve goalkeeper Gino Coutinho stormed into Weghorst so agressively, that the Dutchman has to go to hospital, where he gets nine stitches in his crotch. AZ suspended the keeper, but at Weghorst’s request, the penalty was converted into a fine. No one in the AZ selection felt sorry for Weghorst after the collision and the 1.97 meter long striker himself felt guilty. ‘I ran into the wall a few times’, he said a few months later in the Dutch daily Haarlems Dagblad. ‘It’s not the fault of the others. I know that I am often not very easy to deal with.’
In 2018, Weghorst made a tranfer from AZ to the German Vfb Wolfsburg. What the Dutch sometimes considered as an annoying mentality was exactly what then Wolfsburg coach Bruno Labbadia was looking for. ‘After we saw a few videos of him, we wanted to meet him immediately’, Labbadia says in a Fox Sports-documentary on Weghorst. ‘He has exactly what we need. His mentality and his attitude to always want to work on himself. He is annoyed by every small defeat and that is good. He fits very well in the Bundesliga. And that does not apply to all Dutch players.’ Weghorst has also been doing very well under Labbadia’s successor Oliver Glasner. Only three players in the Bundesliga scored more than the 20 that the Dutchman made.
Yes, he has also been expelled from training in Germany because of his over-fanaticism during a game. And he got into a fight with teammates. However they give him an applause when Weghorst apologizes afterwards.
Not only Weghorst’s way of cheering and losing, but also his way of playing football was often a reason to make fun of him. No technique. Not agile enough. Fox Sports analyst Kenneth Perez called him ‘clumsy’. Too slow. Too little ball control. Weghorst has had to listen to comments like these, all of his career. Full of pride he was after his debut in the Eredivisie and then ge got burned to the grounw by the connoisseurs. But in the end, the criticism made him better. ‘I don’t have the best technique, but I do have the best mentality’, he told Algemeen Dagblad in 2015.
In the Bundesliga not just his mentality and personality are appreciated. His football qualities are also recognized. He has that inimitable quality of great strikers. It seems that he is covered by a defender, but that doesn’t work, because a moment later he has suddenly created enough space around him to score. When a pass comes in from the side, he prefers to be in a place where he can overlook the goal area. With his defender in front of him, he can choose: (1) pop up in front of the attacker, (2) crawl behind him or (3) let himself fall back, suddenly creating a gap of a few meters. Three possibilities. It’s all about moving, timing and positioning. Because opponents do not know what Weghorst will do, he is difficult to defend.
On average, Weghorst shoots from closer than other strikers, but when he does he almost always hits the target. He uses his long legs not only to tap in balls, but also to put pressure on and take balls away from the opponent. And yes, he also makes beautiful goals: subtle balls over falling the goalkeeper and sttraight strikes into the upper corner.
Weghorst has set and achieved goals throughout his life, even though others thought this was not going to happen. Becoming a professional football player. Make it to the Dutch national team. Go abroad. Weghorst it has been said that he could not to play headers, but his mental coach Remco Visscher thought otherwise. ‘You first have to subconsciously believe that you can do it well’, Visscher at the beginning of this year in the Dutch daily Stentor. ‘Promptly he scored fantastic goals three times in a row with his head.’
Once a goal has been achieved, Weghorst sets a new one. Now he is participating with the Dutch at the European Championship and maybe he will one day leave for the Premier League. It is the competition where Weghorst, with his physical toughness, might fit in very well. Perhaps at Tottenham, the club that has already shown interest in him, despite the dissapointing performance at the club of Vincent Janssen, his predecessor at AZ.
A little twist in his head, Weghorst calls it, his extreme drive, perhaps due to the disintegration happy family life at home when he was still a little kid. Maybe his perseverance and independence be traced back to this unhappy period in his early life. ‘Sometimes I am completely exhausted, but I continue anyway’, he said in the Haarlems Dagblad. ‘Till the end. I will never make concessions. Never.’ With such an attitude it is difficult for him to understand that other players with a lot of talent are not always willing to give it all.
Off the field, Weghorst is a sweet boy who likes to play with his daughters and light candles in his native village of Borne. A boy who likes to visit his old club RKSV NEO from Borne, where his brothers play and where a meters-high photo of him decorates the clubhouse.
The Netherlands nowadays is said to have a lack of top strikers, but nevertheless Weghorst was nnever too high in the hierarchy of the Dutch national team. But in the Amsterdam Arena, Wout Weghorst was enthusiastically sung to during the first match of the Netherlands, against Ukraine, even before he scored. ‘ If you don’t really celebrate goals, you’re not a footballer’, said former Wolfsburg coach Labbadia in the Fox documentary. ‘Goals are the salt in the soup.’