Soccer midfielder Wesley Sneijder starred for AFC Ajax, Real Madrid and Internazionale, and led the Netherlands to a runner-up finish at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Born on June 9, 1984, in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wesley Sneijder developed his soccer skills in the AFC Ajax youth system. After enjoying success with his first pro club, the midfielder helped Real Madrid to league and Spanish Super Cup victories in 2008. The pinnacle of Sneijder's career came in 2010, when he won five club titles and led his country to a runner-up finish at the FIFA World Cup.
Wesley Benjamin Sneijder was born on June 9, 1984, in Utrecht, Netherlands. He left home at age 7 to join the youth system of the Amsterdam-based club Ajax, where his older brother, Jeffrey, was already training. After honing his ambidextrous passing and scoring abilities, Sneijder signed his first pro contract with Ajax at 17.
Early Professional Career
Sneijder made his debut for the senior side in March 2003 and quickly proved he belonged with his impressive performance in Champions League play. A lineup fixture by the following year, he helped Ajax claim the league title in 2004 and the KNVB Cup the subsequent two seasons.
The superb midfielder also worked his way up to prominence with the national team. After being used mainly as a substitute during the 2004 European Championship, Sneijder started all four games for the Netherlands at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Club and International Stardom
After joining Real Madrid in August 2007, Sneijder scored in his first La Liga match and helped his club emerge as league champions. He was named to the Team of the Tournament at the 2008 European Championship and carried the momentum into a victorious Spanish Super Cup performance, but the subsequent season was a disappointment as Real Madrid failed to pick up any titles.
Sold to Italian club Internazionale in August 2009, Sneijder led the Nerazzurri to the Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League titles in his first season and won the UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year Award. He continued to dazzle at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, scoring five goals to tie for the tournament lead and earning Silver Ball honors as the Netherlands fell just short in the final to Spain. Back with Ajax, he spearheaded the club's victorious Italian Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup showings, ending his spectacular year with a fourth-place finish in the Ballon d'Or voting.
Internazionale repeated as Italian Cup champions in 2011, but the performance of the club and its star midfielder gradually diminished, and Sneijder was hopeful of a career revival after signing with Turkish club Galatasaray S.K. in January 2013.