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Richard Sneekes (1968)

Richard Sneekes (October 30, 1968) was a midfielder who was for a long time the youngest debutant ever at Ajax. Later, long-haired midfielder played at Fortuna Sittard, in Switzerland and for a long time in England, where he still lives.

Richard Sneekes made his debut in Ajax 1 at the age of sixteen. Johan Cruijff had him fill in for Rob de Wit on October 27, 1985 during the match against Haarlem (5-1) in the 82nd minute. For almost seven years he would carry the predicate 'youngest debutant' with him. In 1992 Clarence Seedorf relieved him during the cup match VVV – Ajax (3-7).

Sneekes belonged to a fine generation of Ajax talents, including Richard Witschge, Frank and Ronald de Boer. Players such as Marcel Keizer, Walter Smak and Desmond Gemert were also among the talents of that time. Ajax 2 even reached the quarter finals of the KNVB cup in 1988. The team – of which Sneekes was captain – defeated FC Groningen, Sparta and FC Utrecht, among others.

In 1988 Sneekes was rented out by Ajax to FC Volendam. He played an excellent season behind the striker couple Gert Jan Duif and Steve van Dorpel. Volendam offered him a contract as a semi-professional and he could also return to Ajax, but the frail midfielder signed a contract with Fortuna Sittard. There he could become a full-professional and under trainer Han Berger there were more opportunities to play than at Ajax.

Expectations were high at De Baandert. The Limburgs Dagblad headlined his transfer with 'Fortuna Sittard brings in whopper Richard Sneekes'. However, the start was disappointing. He lived on his own for the first time and was often dependent on snack bars and pizzerias. After a difficult season it would turn out fine. Sneekes eventually played four seasons in Limburg, together with players such as René Maessen, Jos Mordang and Ruud Hesp. In 1993 the club was relegated and Fortuna wanted to get rid of him because it had difficulty paying his salary.

Sneekes was therefore rented out to Locarno in 1993, only to end up in England after one season, at Bolton Wanderers. In England he would have his best time as a football player. With Bolton Wanderers he was promoted to the Premier League after just one season. Unfortunately he then lost his starting spot, after which he signed with West Bromwich Albion. He would play six seasons with The Baggies. In 2003 he ended his career with Herfølge BK in Denmark. In 2007 he played a few more games with Hinckley United.

Sneekes was a striking appearance in the field with his long blond mane. He eventually fell short of the real top, but was very popular with almost all his clubs. He was a real public player and especially in England an excellent driver in midfield.

The Amsterdammer has stuck in England after his career. Richard Sneekes was given the position of trainer of Halesowen Town. His stepdaughter Melissa excels in another area. She became Miss Netherlands in 2007.

(Photo: ANP – Marcel Antonisse)

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