Mark Versteegen (23) had to leave FC Groningen but is worth his weight in gold at the squarely running Be Quick 1887. “We’ll stay in it.”

Mark Versteegen (23) had to leave FC Groningen but is worth his weight in gold at the squarely running Be Quick 1887. “We’ll stay in it.”
Mark Versteegen (23) had to leave FC Groningen but is worth his weight in gold at the squarely running Be Quick 1887. “We’ll stay in it.”

Mark Versteegen has been playing football at Be Quick 1887 since he was six, excluding a short trip to FC Groningen. The Esserberg club is doing well and is bottom in the fourth division D. “But we will stay in it.”

‘The best moment in my football career remains the first time I was allowed to play a match in the FC Groningen uniform.’

The play-offs were his new highlight

Mark Versteegen was 19 years old when he said that to an employee of the Be Quick 1887 website. Four years later, the central defender no longer wears the football clothing of the faded Pride of the North. “Do I have a new best moment yet?” After some thought, he arrives at the participation with Be Quick last season in the play-offs for promotion to the third division. “Due to an injury I was only able to play in the last games of the season and the fact that I still made it to the play-offs was a highlight for me.”

Versteegen was already injured in the preparation for the season. In a practice match in Hoogeveen against HZVV, he broke his right ankle in an unfortunate collision, which dislocated. “We both went for the ball. That boy from HZVV wanted to shoot on goal and I wanted to block the ball. My ankle was perpendicular to my lower leg. That was shocking.”

Dislocated kneecap

It was not the first time that Versteegen had to fight back from a serious injury. Three years earlier he had also been sidelined for almost a year. “During training I collided with someone. Then my kneecap dislocated. That took me eight months. Both times it was bad luck. Very frustrating. Then we had two corona years, I haven’t played many games in the first team of Be Quick yet.”

Physically, things are going well for Versteegen this season. “I haven’t missed a minute so far.” From a sporting point of view, it is doom and gloom at Be Quick. In ten league matches they have already lost seven times, resulting in the bottom place in the rankings. Leader Excelsior ’31 from Rijssen will come to the Esserberg on Saturday. “That will be another difficult match. It’s still early in the season. We shouldn’t worry too much about the score just yet. Football has to improve, but we are still fighting. There is an upward trend.”

Very busy

It was predictable that Be Quick would brace itself for a tough season. Although the team narrowly missed promotion to the third division – Kampong was too high an obstacle in the play-offs – the ‘good old’ was confronted with a massive exodus at the end of the season. Geertjan Liewes moved to Jubbega, Pim Betzema and Jolt Postma to Harkemase Boys, Djarni Leidelmeijer to Oranje Nassau, Tiuri Schieving to Helpman, Wilko van der Kooi to Velocitas 1897, Nilay van der Ploeg to FC Emmen u/19, Martijn van Maastrigt to VEV ’67 and trainer Steven Wuestenenk to d’Olde Veste from Steenwijk. Daniël Teune left for Barcelona to study and goalkeeper Robert Smit currently has no club.

“We have lost eleven players,” says Versteegen. “That wouldn’t be such a problem if you had received good replacements, but they didn’t come. Be Quick has good youth and has also promoted a number of youth players to the first selection. These are boys with potential, but from youth to the first team is a big step. Of course, they still lack experience and cannot be calmed down. They have to be there immediately and you can’t expect that from them. We have a very young team, we have to build a completely new team and that takes time.”

Boys aged 23 and 25 are Be Quick’s regulars

At 23 years old, Mark Versteegen is one of the team’s veterans. Nagesh Amatsaleh (25) is the oldest player in the team of new coach Paul Matthijs. In other words, there is no good age structure. “You can tell from his training that Paul Matthijs was a professional football player. All his training methods are competition-oriented and he approaches them as a competition. He is very detailed in his approach. Steven Wuestenenk was more focused on the entire team. Tactically I thought he was very strong.”

Versteegen has been given the captain’s armband by Matthijs. “I like being captain. It is a form of appreciation. You are the link between the group and the trainer and as captain you also have an exemplary role. Of course we all have to do it together, but as a captain you can never give up. You must be at the forefront of the battle.”

A tear was shed at FC’s farewell

Mark Versteegen is a thoroughbred Be Quicker. He started at the club as a six-year-old and, apart from a short trip to FC Groningen, never left. From the age of twelve to fifteen he played in the youth of the professional club. “I was also injured for a long time during that period. I hadn’t shown enough, they said, when they told me they weren’t going to continue with me. And it was. I enjoyed playing for FC Groningen and when you are told that it will end, it is sad at that age. It’s been a long time, but a tear must have been shed then.”

Versteegen studies at the University of Groningen. He is in the second and final year of his master’s degree in Sport Sciences and is doing an internship with Mees van der Linde, head of performance at FC Groningen. The study offers him broad opportunities for a good job, says Versteegen. “I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with it and maybe I will continue studying, but I find top sport very interesting. I would like to have a job in that.”

In rooms with two other football players

For about three years now, Versteegen has been living in rooms in the Grunobuurt in the city of Groningen, a fifteen-minute bike ride from his parental home. “I also liked it at home, but at some point you also want to live on your own.” He shares the living space with his football friends Luka Prljic from ACV and Tonnes Popken from Helpman. “Certainly, we talk a lot about football, but often not very seriously. Do I still have ambition as a footballer? I really like Be Quick. We are playing at a good level, but I certainly still have ambition. Due to these long-term injuries, I have not been able to show myself enough so far. My ambition at the moment is: to stay fit and have a good season. And stay in it with Be Quick, of course. Then we’ll see what happens.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Mark Versteegen leave Groningen worth weight gold squarely running Quick stay


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