It was a special week for Maurits Visser. After many games on the bench with the Orange and much less within the lines, he was told last week that he is the first goalkeeper at the European Championship in August . In addition, the 28-year-old closing post was allowed to work hard this weekend against Germany and New Zealand in the Pro League. That didn’t always go smoothly.

With a soaking wet and sweaty head, Visser came out of the players’ tunnel on Sunday afternoon after the stuffy – indeed, fitting for the weather – 3-2 victory over New Zealand . In the cool corridor under the stands of the Wagener Stadium he took another breath. “You have to do your best not to overheat in these temperatures. A wet towel over your head is sometimes nice. I also wore a short sleeve shirt. Makes a difference too.’

He let out another deep sigh. This time when the match against New Zealand comes up. A victory with an ugly aftertaste for Visser. He barely got anything to do, but was beaten twice at corners. ‘For me it was a sour pot. I wasn’t holding well. Those two goals were both mistakes on my part. The first came under my arm. The second passed through the inside of my leg. That’s just not good enough, that pisses me off.’

The words are just as hard as the striking drag corners of New Zealander Kane Russell, who outwitted Visser twice. The goalie does not spare himself. He is sincere and looks for a cause for his failures. “I was a little too eager, I think. I went to the corner a little early when I saw him pushing on my stick side. If you are just too far to the side, the ball can slip through.’ The goalkeeper also tries to explain that eagerness. ‘Against Germany, he went in through the inside of the post. That’s why I wanted to be in that place too soon. I think.’

Visser sees the ball fly past him into the goal. Photo: William Vernes
Visser sees the ball fly past him into the goal. Photo: William Vernes

Thankless task

The goalkeeper, who has now made 21 appearances in the Orange squad, is aware that he sometimes has a thankless task. ‘Unfortunately, this is also part of goalkeeping. Like today you get very few balls to show yourself well afterwards. I had very little to do, also against Germany. The guys defended great. And I shouldn’t get caught up in it. Don’t suddenly want to change too much.’

In the final phase of the duel with New Zealand, it looked very much like Visser would still have to work hard. After the late equalizer (2-2) by the Orange, two and a half minutes before the end, shoot-outs were in the air. Until a Sunday shot by Justen Blok from a deflected corner still hit the ropes. “I knew anything could happen. Those Germans also won against New Zealand just before time on Friday, right? ‘Of course they go through your head. I think shoot-outs are great for goalkeeping. Although I was perhaps a bit too hesitant against Germany on Saturday. I would have loved to take on the challenge today. But of course it’s great that you didn’t have to.’

With three international matches – on Monday he still played in London against Spain – and his election as the first goalkeeper for the European Championship, it was therefore a special week for the Amsterdammer. ‘I would not have expected that message a week ago,’ says Visser happily. “I hope I can show myself better there than today. I’m happy with the odds and will play more pots. Then hopefully things will get better towards the European Championship.’

Visser during the Wilhelmus in the full Wagener. Photo: William Vernes
Visser during the Wilhelmus in the full Wagener. Photo: William Vernes

The ceased competition

Visser was first choice, because the competition with the much more experienced Pirmin Blaak was decided in his favor. Blaak will become a father for the first time in mid-August and is therefore not a certainty for the European Championships in Germany. This week, national coach Jeroen Delmée made the decision, so that Visser can also gain rhythm towards the title tournament in Germany. “I knew what was coming at Pirmin’s house. But I completely forgot about the timing. So I actually assumed a competition towards the European Championship. I had every confidence that I could win it. Now the decision has come a little earlier.’ 

The national coach called Visser on Wednesday. “I was at home having dinner with my girlfriend and some of her friends. It was a nice, special moment.’ So suddenly a nice wine was put on the table? ‘Well, not that. I get a lot of congratulations, but in the end I get a chance. A chance to keep. I have yet to show it. The higher goal is the Games. This is on the way there. I’m happy with it, though. Yes.’

Visser and Blaak at the World Cup, last January. Blaak was first choice in that tournament. Photo: William Vernes
Visser and Blaak at the World Cup, last January. Blaak was first choice in that tournament. Photo: William Vernes

‘Older keeper always has the benefit of the doubt’

Because Visser also realizes that this is a very nice opportunity to really distinguish himself. ‘As a keeper you sometimes have to wait a very long time for that. The older keeper always has the benefit of the doubt. So I have to be at least ten percent better. You have to have patience. Be calm in important moments. That is difficult, you have to experience it.’

Is it therefore more relaxed for him that the goalkeeper choice for the European Championship has already been made? “I find it difficult to say,” the goalkeeper muses. ‘You are less involved in the struggle and tension, that selection mode. For me it’s nice that I’m keeping continuous in the coming time, instead of alternating. Otherwise you are still comparing.’

He waits a moment, the game still very fresh in his mind. ‘But eh… I’ll have to do better than today.’

by Hockey.nl

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