It’s virtually impossible to do a story on Jurrien Timber without also covering twin bro Quinten. If the expression “two peas in a pod” had a face, it would be theirs. Even their brothers have had trouble identifying who is who. Brother Chris: “It happened often in a game where I would say “wow top pass by Quinten” and then mum would say “it’s Jurrien!”… Now, their heads are a bit different and their hairdo as well but back in the day, when they played together it was hard. Thanks God for squad numbers.”
Mum Timber came to the Netherlands as a professional dancer and ended up staying in Holland after she met the dad of the boys. She raised her 5 sons alone though and has done a marvelous job indeed! The oldest apparently had the most talent, according to Quinten. He lacked the ambition though and plays at amateur level now. The second oldest is the manager of his pro brothers. The youngest of the brothers is in the FC Utrecht academy.
The two Timbers in the youth system
Jurrien and Quinten, true identical twins, were selected in their first amateur team at 4 years old! Their youth coach at amateur club DVSU: “It is not really possible to have 4 year olds as club members, but their two brothers were members and playing together in a team. Jurrien and Quinten were always around and they were so gifted, we couldn’t refuse them. We allowed them both to play in the same team as their brothers but I always made use two of them were on the bench. Unless for games which really mattered, hahaha. If we could win the title, I did play them all four. I always told the boys to pass the ball, but when we were behind in a title deciding game, I did say to them: whatever you can do, win this game for us. And there they’d go, taking on and passing 4 or 5 players and scoring. Jurrien was more the organiser, the thinker. Quinten was the artist. Dribbling past 5 players and lobbing the ball over the goalie. Typical Quinten.”
“They looked adorable and they were so small. I heard many parents from visiting clubs comment on how cute they were but within 10 minutes all of the Timbers would be on the score sheet and the parents didn’t think they were so cute, hahaha.”
Brother Chris: “Justin and Quinten are indeed adorable and cute. Off the pitch. When mum was busy she’d put on the Lion King for us. My younger brother Dylan would walk off within 30 minutes, bored. Justin and Quinten were so easy, if the movie had ended, they would just sit there. Waiting for mum to spot them and offer them something else.”
When they turned 7, Feyenoord scouted them and brother Dylan. The contrast was enormous. The twins would be sitting close to the bus driver, polite and quiet, whereas Dylan was always getting in trouble.
Timber bros with mum
On a typical day in their amateur club, the Feyenoord, Ajax and Utrecht scout were watching together. Ajax offered the twins a move to Amsterdam, but Feyenoord also wanted Dylan. When Ajax told the family that they wouldn’t be able to pick up the boys for training and matches, while Feyenoord offered a bus service, it became Feyenoord for the three brothers.
The twins had to let their social life go. It was sleep, school, travel, train, travel, sleep. Dylan couldn’t do it, he missed the social life. “But they had each other. They were a unit, they ate the same, they would sleep in the same room (and still do!!) and they’d watch the same stuff. They were both Messi fans and this would have helped them to enjoy their life at Feyenoord.”
At a young age, the two were disciplined. If there was a movie on but the clock said 9.30 pm, they’d get up to go to bed.
Life was good and Feyenoord did ever so well with the Timbers, who played in a team with Wouter Burger (Basel) and Summerville (Leeds United). But when Feyenoord claimed they wanted to turn Quinten into a central defender, the family started to have doubts. “We saw players like Sergio Ramos, John Terry and Vince Kompany as central defenders but Quinten was of a different build. When Feyenoord also couldn’t assist us financially with transport costs when the boys went to high school we decided to have a look around. Ajax had the best pitch, so the boys decided to move to Amsterdam,” says their mum.
Timber family with their first trophy
The move to Ajax was highly publicized. As if the family had gone for the money. And Timber Traitors and all that jazz. But mum is adamant: “Ajax was always the first club to come around for them and every season I got a call from the Ajax youth academy. They were truly interested in the development of the boys and money was never a reason for us to switch.”
In the first seasons, the Timbers had it tough in Amsterdam. Not in terms of football. They were simply the best of their generation, but mostly due to their growth spurts and injuries. Eventually, they managed to learn to deal with the physical side of the game and they even were able to organise a gym at their home.
When Jurrien broke through into the first team, coach Ten Hag suggested a loan for Quinten, as it would be key for him too to play under pressure, week in week out. FC Utrecht was the candidate, but they were also keen to simply sign the midfielder. Ajax allowed Quinten to go and the rest is history. The midfielder is now back at Feyenoord as one of the key players in Arne Slot’s set up.
Jurrien Timber developed into a fine central defender who already had to brush off interest from Italy, Spain and England and seems to have taken the RCB spot from De Ligt and De Vrij. Quite an achievement. Not the top defenders of Bayern or Inter but that kid from Ajax will most likely take that spot.
His team mate Nathan Ake: “It’s amazing right? He is a super talent. He plays with a maturity I haven’t seen in a kid his age. I mean, it took me a while. And he’s also that type of guy off the pitch. A quiet guy, with focus on getting better and living like a pro. I can also see him deal with all the media stuff and he’s simply unfazed.”
Last summer, the Eredivisie Ltd and ESPN picked him as Holland’s Best Player AND Greatest Talent. Quite unique. Even Van Dijk was surprised: “When I look back at where I was at that age, wow… I only have good things to say about him. His potential is just mindboggling. I am sure he will not get derailed. He won’t allow it.”
Frank de Boer used Timber as a stand in for De Ligt, when he suffered a groin injury, but used the Bayern man when he was fit. Not Van Gaal. The veteran coach recognised the quality of Timber and placed both De Ligt and De Vrij solidly on the bench. Timber solidified his spot in the Nations League matches.
Daley Blind: “Wow, it goes so fast with Jurrien. We saw him develop last year in our CL campaign and he keeps on going. He works hard and truly a sponge, with his ears and eyes open to learn. He is always himself, a very steady guy.”
Skipper Van Dijk: “Everyone knows his role in this squad. When you play, you play and the ones who don’t play will be the support act, so to speak. I know it’s not easy for Mathijs and Stefan, but they deal so well with it. They will always be ready to help Jurrien or any other player. They are key too and it’s great to see these dynamics in the team.”
Jurrien Timber himself: “Yes, it’s true, we are a tight unit and I feel supported, also by my direct rivals, so to speak. It’s not easy to get into this team, everyone gives 100% to get in and we all deal with this professionally.”
His faith is important for him. On match days, he will post Bible verses. “Faith is my grounding. I study the Bible every day and it strengthens and grounds me. I notice that people respond to the posts I make on the Bible verses and I love that I can bring that message across.”
Against Poland away, he played against arguably one of the best strikers of the world. Lewandowski got 1 touch in the Dutch box and had zero shots on target. Timber had the most contacts of all Dutch players (97) and the most passes (82) and the highest pass accuracy ( 96%). He had the most interceptions (3) and the least number of possession losses (3).
When he was complimented on this after the game, he was very cool about it: “I don’t do this by myself. It’s a team performance. I love the challenge to play against Lewandowski, but he wasn’t the only one with quality. We dealt with Zielinski, who knows how to play and later Milik also came on. Also a monster of a striker.”
He also dealt with Eden Hazard and is looking forward to the World Cup. “When I played my matches at the Euros, I really noticed the difference in intensity. I remember thinking “Pfff this is tough”. It was a surprise that I played there and it was amazing. This World Cup will even be bigger. I will do what I can to be part of it.”
Time to reflect is not available yet. “I don’t have time, I need to go on. Another match soon! I am not ready yet.”
And Nathan Ake summarised it all very well: “He is a top talent and a great guy. He deserves everything coming his way.”