The Road to Qatar: Jurrien Timber (and bro)

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.”

Lewandowski defeated

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.”

Hazard defeated

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.”

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  1. @Wilson

    No Plan A? You underestimate our coach enormously Wilson. If anything, there is too much detail in Plan A. You should know LVG by now, he will analyse till the cows come home and try and plan a game plan for the game. Whether its a good plan is a different matter but he will have a Plan A.

    Goalscoring…. These are the goal stats of the WC 2022 qualification matches.

    England +36
    Germany + 32
    Denmark +27
    Netherlands +25
    Belgium +19
    Croatia +17
    France +15
    Switzerland +13
    Spain +10
    Serbia +9

    I think we’re doing just fine in the goal scoring compartment

  2. What I meant was a consistent or best starting 11. Like you said berghuis vs certain teams, Malacia vs Brazil. It’s gonna be changing as per vs different teams while teams like Argentina, Brazil have been building and playing together with their best 11 and coming into the WC and will continue with the same as they progress. They have also gone with rotations and whom to replace if there is injuries.

    The same can’t be said in context to NT. Injuries will be fatal for NT and plus looking the bench it’s not quality pack either.

    The Goals. You saw what happened vs Belgium without Depay. You can’t be relying on van dijk to come up with goals on behalf of strikers when it is needed the most . Do you

  3. Didn’t realize the draws for Euro 24 qualifers has already being done.

    Republic of Ireland

    Competitive and should give koeman headaches as well in the making of dream team

  4. @Wilson

    In 2014 Van Gaal adapted the team according to the rivals and reached the semifinal (that we lost by penalties). If i remember correctly, Van Gaal did not repeat the same starting 11 in that WC.

    Also, we made a great tournament playing with plenty of young players for the Eredivisie: Clasie, Kongolo, Martins Indi, Janmaat, Depay some more “veteran” Eredivisie players like De Vrij, Wijnaldum, Veltman, and another set of players not very famous: Leroy Fer, Lens, De Guzman, Vlaar or Verhaegh. Honestly, very average team.

    Yes, we have Sneijder, Robben, Huntelaar and van Persie, but the gap between these players and the rest was huge.

    I think we have a better squad this year, an old wolf as a coach with experience in WC and an inspired team.

    I really don’t worry if Van Gaal made changes for game to game. The core team will be always the same.

  5. Very nice post Jan. Thanks. i really like Timber and i enjoy reading about his life.

    I was listening an Ajax podcast about Nigel the Jong. about how much trouble he has when he was young because of her moms illness, how he enter in Ajax’s trials and finally was selected after 4 invitations, and how Ronald Koeman call him home to tell him he was going to made his debut, and then he ask his mom to taking to the stadium next day and her mom told him she can not do it because she has to made her dialysis, so Nigel took the subway to the stadium for his debut.

    A funny part is when he asked for 2 free tickets to invite his mom and the tickets guy answer him “2? this is your debut, we have all the tickets you want” and Nigel then starting to call to all his family and friends for his debut.

    Nice player!

  6. Hi Eduardo, yes Nigel is a humble and intelligent guy. Runs at least one successful business at the moment. He used to be a more creative midfielder in the youth system and turned into a hard holding mid by Huub Stevens in Germany, which got him to the top of the world.


    So here is what you do:

    When you use the link you can join the “Lowievenkaals Armie” group (this is after the English way Louis van Gaal said “Louis Van Gaal’s Army!” in Manchester 🙂 ).

    Once you are in, you can then add your predictions. The deadline date is always visible, you don’t need to predict all games, just start with the first round I’d say. You can change your prediction as long as it’s before the game. That should do it. Then you can add some bonus answers (top scorers and final winner). Doesn’t it guide you along nicely?

  8. We have four players now: Sjakie ( the Dutch – Croatian football guru who combines the skills of Modric with the heading capabilities of Jaap Stam), 5 who probably didn’t take this name because of his age, but because of his fave jersey number (Daley Blind) and gnowhoj who lives in Middle Earth.

  9. It’s absolutely news to me that Jurrien Timber has an identical sibling. Thoroughly enjoyed the background info thx Jan. Maybe I should get into the Eredivisie 🙃

    Timber is a promising young player and he’s got a lot going for him. Pace, power, low center of gravity, dribbling quality and that calm that rears itself from early on and seemingly unteachable. So many qualities that his stature may not even come into question.

    But when your rival in your preferred position is de Vrij, a ball playing centre half who towers over most players, quick on his feet with similar composure, question of your lack of height would surely creep up. And for good reason.

    Oranje has a good chance to top it’s group but come the knockout stage, that part of the schoolyard bully in the first three games may very well be reversed.

    With a potential matchup against Wales in the round of 16, and given a scenario where there are no major surprises, oranje’s triumph will lead them to face Argentina, then Brazil and in the finals France.

    My dear people, this is as hard as it gets. But the saying goes that football is a funny game. For the Netherlands to enjoy, at any rate, a shred of humor in the outcome of these matchups, they will have to play defense like they’ve never had before.

    And that’s why I would opt for the physicality and height of de Vrij. Not to mention his immense experience. Those final three potential matchups may very well be a bridge too far for Timber. But all is not lost in my world of the fantastic.

    I have always loved Timber’s dribbling quality and injection of pace from deep. And he is a solid defender. How about pairing him with FDJ? The added defensive security and the counterattacking fearless, recklessness of the young. Has our Pitbull Davids always been lurking in the shadows?


    Re: Based on your last comments, I believe you are parrotting what the media say about the Dutch (the infighting). I think you are not fully up to speed with Dutch culture? Are you? Can you elaborate?

    The media is always going to exaggerate and sensationalize as this is how they sell their service best. But adding a little more drama to a story than warranted does not mean the story is automatically untrue.

    In fact, for the media to be able to create a firestorm, there has to be a constant barrage of billowing smoke. And this is what Oranje, led by the KNVB, feeds them.

    Toxicity in the workplace or whatever community always starts at the top and the KNVB haven’t stuttered in this regard. You yourself described their stations as a den of vipers or something of the sort.

    The KNVB set the tone in its uninspiring appointments of coaches further cementing the claim of Ajax favoritism. Truth be told, who is going to raise their hand with the claim that FDB or daddy Blind would have been appointed if they were Feyenoord or even PSv?

    If we see this as fans, of course the players are going to respond in a way that they might not give their all to a coach they see as undeserving. Especially after the way ten Cate, a well accomplished coach, had been treated by the KNVB.

    And I do not not want to go into a culture war with the Dutch people because

    a) the KNVB and Dutch management do not represent the Dutch populace

    b) I have three siblings who are Dutch citizens

    c) the Dutch in my experience can be blunt but you know where you stand with them. I actually like that.

    That last point is the least description you would heap on Dutch management. Things are continuosly topsy-turvy. Lead on a senior player in the squad(Cillesen) just to go on a power trip at his expense.

    Lead on Henk ten Cate just to go with Advocaat to players dissatisfaction.

    It. Is. Always. Something.

    And that’s the problem.

  10. Hi Urangutan, yes the Eredivisie is truly a fun competition to watch in all honesty. A bit naive at times, but it makes it fun. A bit cottage industry style as opposed to the glib EPL and La Liga I suppose.

    I have heard more voices that would suggest De Vrij should play. I think there is a case to be made for both options.

    A couple of things on your comments re: Dutch infighting etc.

    When the word infighting is used, I don’t think of the KNVB making silly decisions. You are correct, I have called them out many times on this. But that is incompetence and probably egotistical behaviour. Infighting, for me, is player A not wanting player B or not liking player C or coach D.

    That happened. But not more than in any other national team, I don’t think.

    1974: JC doesn’t want to play with Van Beveren in goal.

    The reason is simple. JC and Michels want to play total football, dominating on their half, and therefore needing a goalie who can play sweeper. Enter Jongbloed. Van Beveren was a line keeper. The best i’ve ever seen but not comfortable leaving his area.

    1978: Van Hanegem and JC pull out of the squad.

    Reasons: JC is told by his wife to stay home (a story lots of times told here on the blog) and Willem was told he wouldn’t be a starter so Willem pulled out, knowing he would be terrible as a benchwarmer.

    1988: No issues.

    1990: Players revolt against Beenhakker and Michels.

    Reason: the players were used to oust Libregts. They wanted Cruyff. Michels wanted Beenhakker so Don Leo got the job. The players were pissed off.

    1994: Gullit pulls out

    Gullit is told he needs to play right wing in a 4-3-3. He believes it’s stupid due to the hot weather in Florida. Advocaat sticks to his plan. Gullit decides to make the decision to pull out.

    1996: Hiddink needs to pull his head out of Frank de Boer’s arse.

    Much discussed here. The only real infighting incident.

    1998: nothing

    2000: nothing

    2002: nothing. Well, Van Gaal angry at this players, players fed up with control freak Van Gaal.

    2004: Nothing. Bad substitution by Advocaat. Business as usual.

    2006: Van Basten clashes with Van Bommel and Van Nistelrooy.

    2008: nothing

    2010: nothing

    2012: Huntelaar is seen as the bad guy in disrupting the flow in the team. Some of the other water-carriers also believe they are the alpha male. Team plays well v Denmark but lose, and implode.

    2014: nothing

    2020: nothing.

    Yes, the KNVB like the FIFA and UEFA is a ivory tower fortress. They seem to be quite imcompetent.

    Bad decisions were made which result in bad results. I think the summary is already up there.

    The fact Cruyff never got the job. The appointment of Advocaat instead of Ten Cate. The decision to put Blind in the role after Hiddink’s tenure. But there were also great appoinments: Van Basten/Schip, Frank Rijkaard, Bert van Marwijk and I have to admit, Louis van Gaal in 2014.

    it’s not like there is a continuous stream of bad decisions. I think the negativity around Oranje and the repeat of “infighting” is just lazy journalism in a world where all we do, discuss and research needs to fit in a tweet.

    1. @Jan can you elaborate what happened in 1996? I don’t know that story about Hiddink and F de Boer. I just know there was a problem with David’s )I don’t know which one) and Hiddink sent him home and replaced by Cocu

  11. The problem was an Ajax problem which exploded during the Euros in England. At Ajax, there was a contingent of black players – calling themselves The Cable – and a contingent of white players. The white ones (Blind, De Boer, Overmars, Scholten, Sar) were paid more than the black lads ( Davids, Reiziger, Kluivert) or so it appeared. It was never confirmed whether it was the case or not, but the black players felt a bit discriminated. The bros De Boer and Blind were also influential in their dealings with coach Van Gaal which will have had its impact too.

    At Oranje, the complaints were more about the food and other cultural aspects. The KNVB chefs cooked “western” foods for the players, whereas the dark contingent loved some Suriname based dishes, but none of that was forthcoming.

    This added to the growing agitation and when Hiddink subbed Seedorf (?) at some point, Davids responded after the match by telling a reporter (on record) that Hiddink should pull his head out of De Boer’s arsehole and be real (make his own decisions). That outburst prompted Hiddink to kick Davids out and replace him.

    They kissed and made up and the 1998 World Cup was played with a Davids on fire and… a dark skinned assistant coach in Frank Rijkaard who was more sensitive to the needs and wants of the players with a different cultural background. That unspoken rule is still being used today (Davids, ironically).

  12. I think that’s an important clarification on the “infighting”, Jan—
    The crap that the KNVB has done in the past, even the recent past, isn’t really what matters heading into the tournament. For all their apparent cluelessness, they’ve wound up with the right manager at the right time.

    The kind of infighting that we seem to not have in the team is the beef between players. In France, Pogba has apparently had a witch doctor out a spell on Mbappe. In Portugal, Bruno supposedly won’t look Ronaldo in the eye. Hopefully the Brazilian egos will turn on each other as well…. But those kind of vibes don’t seem to exist amongst the current Oranje players. And I think that the players and van Gaal get that and try and protect the team culture. So if players would potentially disrupt that (Cillesen, Karsdorp, for example), that may not be the entire reason for their omission, but it’s believable that it’s the final straw against them.

  13. Thanks aanvalluh, I believe you are spot on.

    Infighting should be factual.

    The rest is just someone’s opinion. “Advocaat is not the right coach”, well… that is just an opinion. In St Petersburg, Sunderland, Glasgow and Eindhoven they would disagree.

  14. @Eduardorw

    I saw your post late

    “In 2014 Van Gaal adapted the team according to the rivals and reached the semifinal (that we lost by penalties). If i remember correctly, Van Gaal did not repeat the same starting 11 in that WC.”

    This is exactly why I said you cant drag on to win the world cup. They scraped past Costa Rica, got a life line vs Mexico who were robbed certainly by Robbens theatrically dive ( penalty) and then vs Argentina it was indeed a stalemate and it came to a end. There was nothing van gaal could do. He threw everything.pThe Argentines stopped them in every track( masecherano, zabeleta on robben,) which nullified the one man attack and neither Argentine had any flaws on which van gaal could prey on. while NT defended valiantly, once again it showed defence only doesn’t win you games.

    This is bound to to happen in crucial stages where player head to head becomes decisive and who tips the scale in that department because this always swings the balance in their favour. The backline is the stronghold for NT but the rest, alot of question marks and uncertainties including the bench. This time around the competition level is also much higher and draws tougher. Argentina and Brazil both have the quality and depth to constrict NT when it comes down to player head to head. This is where I expect the Axe to fall on NT. Memphis fitness, Timbers Ariel vulnerability, worn out Blind, luck luuk De jong, klaassen, berghuis creative less.

    1. @wilson dont be moron….
      1-LVG adapted in style,he started with BMI,etc ended up with kuyt ,wijnaldum bothe were vital to team.kuyt best world cup..
      2-After beating 3 teams with most goals in tough group B..teams were terified of dutch..This was down to LVG,wher FDB,Farat van or hiddink can only dream off..
      3–Costarica and Mexico deceided to park the bus(FOR YOU DIMWIT BRAIN..THIS IS DUE TO FEAR THAT ORANJE WILL HUMILATE THEM)
      4-MEXICO AND Costarica survived 90 minutes with luck..
      5-Roben got two penalty denied Vs mexico…
      6-Two times wood work cost us and kaylor navas brought little d\trouble for us…VS costarica..
      7-Arjentina some how dragged us to 120 minutes..Mascherano Ass got tored after tackle on Roben which gave life for arjentina
      8-Lionel messi was shitting in pants Vs Nijel king kong de jong…
      you are a MORO556%$&%^N TO hate LVG..

  15. Arnaut Danjuma is in the studio in Holland. He is asked about what the LVG reason was to leave him out. He said the only reason he was given is “we decided to pick another player over you”. Nothing more.

    There is a rumour going around in the Dutch media, that LVG didn’t pick him because he is too shy and stays too much by himself in his room and doesn’t mingle too much with the group. Andy vd Meyde, who seems to become a pretty thick caricature of himself, came out with this.

    When Danjuma was asked about this he called it bullshit and ridiculous and stupid to say something like this. He said that he was not shy and staying away from the group and he also said that this was never said to him by LVG. ” And we know Louis, he is honest and would say this to me.”

    The final conclusion: “I missed 6 matches, the games in which LVG was prepping his tactics and Noa was there. I think it was between me and him.”

    Andy vd Meyde is the fixed guest of a new football talk show and he is a bit of a clown to be honest.

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