Relatively early in the transfer window, in July, Tottenham Hotspur announced they had bought Swansea’s first goalkeeper, Michel Vorm. The fee, as was reported by Sky Sports, had been in the region of £5 million.
Here and there, a few eyebrows were raised. Didn’t Tottenham already have a world-class goalkeeper in the form of Frenchman Hugo Lloris? And what was in it for Vorm? Surely, he wouldn’t want to give up his place at Swansea just to play second fiddle in North London?
An informed analysis would state: No, he probably can’t. Last year, Lloris reached a new level of maturity as Spurs’ goalkeeper. He consolidated that reputation during the World Cup, where he was France’s No. 1 at the back. Vorm is a good goalkeeper, but he isn’t going to topple Lloris.
But that’s just an informed analysis, and in many ways, informed analyses have failed to put the finger on Vorm’s career. Time and time again, the Dutchman has defied expectations, proved critics wrong and achieved things that seemed impossible.
Born in the Dutch town of Ijsselstein, Vorm never grew taller than 1.83 meters. According to some, that’s simply not tall enough for a goalkeeper. But in the case of Vorm, his stunted physical growth might have contributed to his mental growth.
"If you’re not strong, you must be smart," a Dutch saying goes, and Vorm seems well aware of that. Where other goalkeepers use their physicality to impose themselves as an indestructible tower in their areas, Vorm makes use of his manoeuvrability.
But for a while it seemed like that wasn’t enough. Having come through the ranks of the youth academy as a youngster, he couldn’t get in FC Utrecht’s first team. Consequently, he was loaned out to Dutch first-division club FC Den Bosch.
Most footballers aim to rise in reputation and move to bigger and bigger clubs, but Vorm’s first move was a move downwards. In most cases, it takes exceptional mental attributes to move things around, get back in the elevator and start ascending again.
Vorm managed to do it. He impressed during his season at FC Den Bosch and FC Utrecht took him back the next year. There, he moved from his elevator to a space rocket: In 5 years' time, he grew from the relatively short young man he was to a hardened goalkeeper ready to play in the Premier League.
Swansea took him on board, and Vorm proved he could hold his own against some of the best attackers in the world. It wasn’t bad at all for a goalkeeper who was deemed to be too short and had to be loaned out to a Dutch first-division side.
Will Vorm now unseat Lloris at Tottenham Hotspur? Probably not, at least not right now. But it should be kept in mind that sometimes, a club like Tottenham is forced to sell their world-class players, as was the case with Gareth Bale last year.
As was reported by John Cross of the Mirror, French giants Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with Lloris, and a move away from London wouldn’t be unimaginable for the highly rated goalkeeper.
For now, Vorm will have to take place on Spurs’ substitutes bench. But it’s unlikely the boy from Ijsselstein will simply leave it at that.
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