'No fries or mayonnaise' - How Dutch star Dumfries went from non-league to Euros in seven years

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Denzel Dumfries' former Barendrecht youth coach Lesley Esajas has explained how the Dutch star's rise from non-league football to the European Championship began, revealing he used to turn down fries and mayonnaise in the squad canteen.

Dumfries is being linked with a number of top clubs across Europe after his impressive start to Euro 2020 with the Netherlands, including German champions Bayern Munich.

Esajas hasn't been surprised by his impact, having seen the PSV right-back show signs of having the necessary discipline to reach the highest level of the game when playing in the Tweede Divisie - Dutch football's third tier - when he was still a youngster.

What's been said?

Esajas told Voetbalzone of Dumfries' dietary habits at the club: "At one time, he had dinner with us. If you see what he eats, you think: take more.

"No fries or mayonnaise. Vegetables, salad; those kinds of things he took. These are the things you have to do to go further. You can take fries, but he was aware.

"It's a shame that scouts from Feyenoord, Excelsior, Sparta or Dordrecht didn't notice him. Their focus is on the technique of players. He wasn't like that."

Dumfries' time with Sparta Rotterdam

Dumfries became a professional when he left Barendrecht to join Sparta Rotterdam in 2014, and made 72 appearances for the club in three years before moving to Heerenveen.

Rick Ketting played alongside the talented defender at Sparta, and says that although his former team-mate wasn't a gifted player technically, he had the mental strength to keep progressing.

"I can remember we regularly did passing exercises," said Ketting. "Sometimes he gave passes where we thought: 'what's this?'

"At that time, there was already some speculation about the interest from PSV. So there were sometimes jokes towards Dumfries: 'If you do this at PSV, they will laugh at you'.

"But he made it. And the people who made jokes didn't make it to PSV."

The former Sparta centre-back added: "Our physical coach at Sparta knew Dumfries before and, after the first few training sessions, he said: 'This guy will play in the national team within three or four years', due to his physicality, potential, determination.

"We thought: 'pff, it's possible, but a lot has to happen'. It happened."

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Dumfries at Euro 2020

Dumfries announced himself at the Euros with a stunning display in the Netherlands' 3-2 victory against Ukraine, scoring a late winner to give Frank de Boer's side the best possible start in Group C.

The PSV star repeated the trick in their 2-0 triumph against Austria as the Dutch booked their place in the round of 16, and he could be in line to feature once again in their final group outing against North Macedonia on Monday.

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