A product of the Ajax academy, the Dutchman spent his formative years with the Dutch giants before he left the club for Hamburg in 2005.


He went on to play in the Premier League with Tottenham, where he spent two years, and Van der Vaart has continued to remain a cult figure amongst the Spurs fanbase.



But in 2002 Liverpool wanted to sign him when he was still a teenager and the Dutchman claimed that former Reds manager Gerard Houllier personally called him to convince him to move to Merseyside.


He revealed that Liverpool even agreed to take his parents with him to England, but Van der Vaart was in no mood for a transfer and stressed that he was not ready to leave Ajax then.



Van der Vaart told The Athletic: “I was a teenager. Gerard Houllier called me saying they wanted to buy me — he said, ’I talk with Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and they’d really love to play with you and blah blah blah.’


“But I was like, ‘No! I want to stay with my parents and with Ajax. No chance. So yeah, all nice, but sorry, I’m really going to stay with my parents’. He was like, ‘No they can also come’.



“I had done just one season for Ajax. I was nothing and I really wanted to stay and win titles. I was not ready.


“Now sometimes players aged 15 or 16 go from Holland to England because they are offered big money.


“I never thought about it.”


Van der Vaart did arrive in England eight years later when Real Madrid sold him to Spurs.