The defensive midfielder with Cape Verdean roots owes his place in the squad to his consistent performances for 2008/09 Dutch champions Alkmaar. Fielded just once on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Mendes da Silva has successfully persuaded Bert van Marwijk of his worth, prompting the Netherlands coach to select him ahead of the more experienced Orlando Engelaar. He made his debut against Russia in February 2007 and, after missing out on UEFA EURO 2008, is now ready for his first major international competition in nine years, having contested the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Like many of his Oranje colleagues, Mendes da Silva took his first steps in the professional game at the age of 17. Defending the colours of his beloved local club Sparta Rotterdam, he turned down an offer from Newcastle United before later agreeing a loan move to Ajax in January 2003. His first switch to the top flight came too soon though, and the Sparta youngster had to wait until the summer of 2004 for a second crack. Snapped up by Breda, the then 22-year-old contested 30 games in his maiden season and registered five goals along the way, while his elegant technique quickly made him a favourite among supporters. He had to move again to continue his progress, however, and in June 2006 signed for Alkmaar.
Since then, he has become a fixture at the club, enjoying first-team status under Louis van Gaal, Ronald Koeman and Dick Advocaat. Now hitting his peak at 27, it came as little surprise that Van Marwijk wanted him on board for South Africa 2010.