Thomas Vermaelen AKA, “The Verminator”, is a menace to strikers throughout the English Premier League. Since his arrival from Ajax in 2009, Vermaelen has adapted quite well to the English game and has shown a strong drive to get forward and score goals as well. He is the true defensive force that encapsulates Arsenal FC.
Thomas Vermaelen hails from the small European nation of Belgium. There he played with a local team until the age of 15, when Dutch powerhouse, Ajax inquired about his services. As a youth in Amsterdam, one would think the young Verminator would have gotten himself into trouble but he was remarkably well behaved and mature for his age.
Ajax has a well respected youth program that Thomas speaks high of:
“The reception I got with Ajax was very good. They helped me with everything. They took care of school, and the foster family. They arranged transport from my home to the training. They made all the arrangements that were required for me. I’m very grateful for that.”
He responded well to the proper care and developed tremendously as a player. After a year out on loan, Thomas Vermaelen made the breakthrough to the first team in 2005. By the end of his time there, he had made 98 appearances, scoring eight goals which is remarkable for a defender. The team won the Dutch KNVB Cup on numerous occasions and Vermaelen was captaining the side in 2009 before his departure to Arsenal.
At Arsenal, the Verminator was an immediate success, scoring a debut header in a 6-1 opening day thrashing of Everton. Although criticized by former Arsenal legend, Tony Adams, for his small size (5’ 11”), he rises up to the physical challenge, usually outmuscling and outjumping the opposition to the ball. He is very talented at slide tackling and rarely creates fouls as he makes sure to get to the ball Vermaelen also has no fears about pressing forward and shooting. You can watch his skills in this highlight video:
He is the total package of a defender: Brave, incisive, and a natural leader.
Deemed an immediate success his first year at Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen became the Belgian national team captain. Unfortunately, his second season (2010-2011) was entirely non-existent as he dealt with a rare ankle problem that had him on the sidelines for most of the year. He was stripped of the captaincy due to his time off and Belgium failed to qualify for the EURO 2012 tournament because he missed so many crucial matches.
However, he has recently returned to both the Arsenal and Belgium sides and is quickly regaining form. His career will likely be back on track soon. Arsene Wenger voiced his approval of the Verminator by signing him for an additional four years on his contract. Hopefully he will actually be indestructible from this time on.
Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org