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Sports News of Saturday, 30 April 2022


He fought back - Belgian coach overjoyed to see Super Eagles star’s rise to the top after ‘difficult period’

Cyriel Dessers (left) Cyriel Dessers (left)

No striker in all of Europe has as many goals as Nigeria’s Belgium-born forward following his latest heroics in the Netherlands.

Belgian youth coach Hendrik Swerten has revealed his delight at seeing Nigerian striker Cyriel Dessers become the highest goalscorer in the Europa Conference League.

Dessers scored twice against Marseille at De Kuip on Thursday to help Feyenoord secure a 3-2 first-leg advantage in the competition’s semifinal clash.

The brilliant brace takes Dessers’ tally in the competition to ten, earning him a player of the week award and placing him as the early favourite for the player of the tournament honour.

Talent spotter Hendrik Swerten is probably Dessers biggest fan, and he told RTL Nieuws he was pleased but not surprised to see the 27-year-old shoot down Marseille with his predatory finishing.

Swerten got to know Dessers as a talented eight-year-old at football club De Zwaluw Vechmaal and confessed that the young lad’s touch and positional play were ‘already of an incredibly high level’.

But Dessers’ trainers when he was at age 15, Swerten says, were not convinced that the youngster had it in him to reach the top and even demoted him to a lower level.

Swerten, however, praises Dessers’ mentality that fired him past the criticisms, to earning his first professional contract and now sitting at the top of the Conference League’s goal scorer’s chart.

“And now look. He fought back and showed how strong his character is,” Swerten said.

“I stood behind him during that difficult period. When he signed his first professional contract with Lokeren a few years later, he sent a message: “thank you for always believing in me.”

Dessers and Feyenoord will look to avoid defeat in France next week when they face Olympique Marseille in the second leg of their semifinal faceoff.