When Robben arrived at Stamford Bridge at the age of just twenty he carried on his shoulders a huge weight of expectation. Fresh from a trailblazing four year spell with Groningen and PSV Eindhoven in his native country, the winger had already been marked as one destined for greatness. By the time he left London he had become one of football’s biggest names, and perhaps the defining ‘inside-out’ winger of his generation.The origins of Robben’s unique quick-footed, skilful and pacey attacking play can be traced back to his early training as a youngster in his home town of Bedum under the guidance of a forgotten hero of Dutch football: Wiel Coerver
Many of the worlds best clubs advocate and use the famous Dutchman's coaching material and have hired his personal assistants to clubs such as PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United. Coaches influenced by Coerver have coached at Porto and Liverpool FC (PSV Union's Gary Ireland was at Liverpool FC Academy 7-17 years players while Pepijn Linders was with the EPL squad ). UNC women's soccer (Anson Dorrance is an advocate of Wiel Coerver), the USA women’s' team and many top USA players have a long history of using Coerver material. Most Collegiate players have worked extensively on the material and most of the Bay Area's top youth teams have used the material for the past 20 years.
I had the honor of being an assistant coach to Wiel Coerver along with my brother Simon in Dubai and in New York. Wiel took myself and Simon Ireland under his wing and reinforced in us the importance of individual technical development. Wiel was tough but caring and had a passion second to none. Simon and I had the privilege of knowing Wiel for over 20 years. Few people had the conviction of what he was teaching in football. I recall when he described to us his disagreement with Charles Hughes the former Technical Director of the FA over a 'short corner' debate. Wiel wanted to take a short corner to Roderick Thomas, the phenom playing for England youth at the time- Charles Hughes insisted on the long corner. According to Wiel the disagreement as to which was the best approach resulted in Wiel resigning as technical advisor to the England FA. If they would have taken the short corner Wiel would still have remained. Such was his conviction. (Gary Ireland)
Wiel Coervers assistants/students have gone on to influence the way the game is taught on every continent over the past 25 years. Numerous clubs and federations have incorporated his methods with assistants going onto work at many high profile clubs across the globe and not only working at those clubs but having a large say in the long term youth player development. Manchester United, Porto, Liverpool and other clubs have embraced his teachings. North Carolina coach Asnon Dorrance uses Wiels material every day. Gary and Simon ireland along with Victor Ireland introduced Wiel Coervers material to Australia in 1989. This introduction to (at first) Les Murray from SBSTV profoundly influenced Australian soccer forever. The NSW Soccer Federation under David Lee then embraced the program after Gary & Simon made a presentation to State and club coaches and admin. at the NSWSF headquarters at Parklea in 1989.
Wiel can be proud of his achievement and influence in the game. He gave many of us hope as players who were searching for more knowledge and ways of self improvement. His teaching laid the foundation for my trainings and i have since incorporated them into my coaching material (Gary Ireland)
Gary & Simon Ireland met Wiel while coaching at Manahatnville College during a summer soccer camp that they had been hired to work at. They were contemplating playing college soccer or returning to Europe or Australia to play professionally and were using the camp to stay in shape and keep their touch up. During the camp they were asked to demonstrate for Wiel regularly and struck up a good friendship with Wiel and his assistant Michael Momentz. They were humbled by the material Wiel was demonstrating and Wiel was impressed with the eagerness and enthusiasm the brothers showed as they tried to learn and adopt the material. They would spend hours in the dormitory hallway working on the material after many hours on the field as they tried to master the material. Their efforts were ultimately rewarded with an invite by Wiel to work in Dubai along with his assistant and Wiel at the Al Wasl club.
The brothers declined the many scholarship offers in the USA and return to London before going to Dubai. After Dubai they returned to Australia where they introduced the Coerver Method and arranged the purchase of the Coerver Philips videos (1-2-3) from SLS to SBSTV in Australia.
The last time we visited Wiel was when Carine and i stopped to see Wiel and his wife in their small and tidy apartment near the church at the center of small town in Holland near the German border called 'Kerkrade'. He was still at it. Still inventing and analyzing- still the purist. He was quick to present his analysis of the state of the game. Several EPL and world famous managers even called when we were there, asking his advice. He had some sore points about the game but nothing had deterred him from improving his craft and trying to help develop better and more technically gifted and creative soccer players.
Sadly, Wiel recently passed away but has left an incredible legacy in global soccer. He was a consummate professional and purist. He was a man who wanted to bring beauty and artistry back into the game and help to influence youth coaches teach their players the 'right' way to play. Wiel 'fought the battle' and influenced an entire generation of players and coaches dedicated to bringing beauty back to the game.
Mostly I to try to achieve the highest standards coaching and demonstrating and to pass on a philosophy of the pursuit of excellence. Wiel proved that age has no boundaries and that coaches should remain healthy and active in order to be able to demonstrate at the highest levels to provide strong visuals. At 65 he was demonstrating better than 25 year old professional players! (Gary Ireland)
Thank you Wiel for bringing much sunshine and enlightenment to football around the world! I was proud to have been one of your few personal coaching assistants. You taught me an incredible amount.
John Owens (Liverpool FC Academy Head Coach & co-Director 15 years) COPYRIGHT-Gary Ireland/Soccerbook-2007
Our Academy coaches use Coerver-like practices for the individual ball manipulation work leading to 1 v 1 work, and the passing drills leading to 2 v 1 , 2 v 2 etc. We find that many of our younger players quickly learn their favourite moves which they can perform very well in isolation. The difficulty comes when the player needs to choose WHICH skill to use and WHEN to use it. This is the main task of the coach - to help the proficient player to apply his technique in a game situation so that he can be EFFECTIVE. We make the analogy that the learned techniques are the tools and through a variety of practices we help the player to extend his tool-box. Once the player 'owns' an extensive tool-box then correct decision-making lets him choose the right tool for the job, i.e. the right technique for the situation faced. Too many players following just the Coerver-type work do not get enough practice at making decisions.Naturally, players will make mistakes as part of the learning process, so coaches must show a high level of understanding so that players are not afraid to try their new techniques in the real situation. We feel that the best definition of skill is the ability to choose and perform the required technique ON DEMAND, i.e. when the situation in the game demands it. there are stages of development towards the game situation and the Coerver-like work can help towards that goal, particularly in the early, younger stages. Too often, that early work is not linked to the later stage of development. Through the years 1992 to 1997 when working with England Under 15 team, we played against Holland most years. In warm-up and practice, the Dutch players would show some good 'Coerver-type' moves. However, in the actual games there was no sign of the moves because they had learned the mechanics of the move very well but had not moved on to internalise the activity to be able to implement it in a game against real opposition.