Given his grounding in the game at Ajax, the Liverpool winger was singled out as a potential star of the future at a very young age. When he moved to Anfield in summer 2007, no fewer than €17m changed hands as the Reds put their faith in a 20-year-old with 14 goals from 72 Eredivisie appearances and three good seasons behind him.
A vital cog in the Ajax side that lifted the Dutch Cup in 2006, Babel clinched his first Netherlands cap in a commanding victory in Romania in March 2005. Two years later, he attracted plaudits at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship on Dutch soil, going on to score against Serbia in the final.
Included in the Netherlands squad for the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Amsterdam native then earned himself selection with the senior side as the Oranje disputed the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. Denied a chance to shine at UEFA EURO 2008 through injury, the 23-year-old made five appearances during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The 2009/10 campaign proved a disappointing one for Babel at club level as he failed to inspire greater confidence in manager Rafael Benitez, thus finding himself on the bench more often than in the first XI. Quick, technically gifted and blessed with the ability to keep possession, since 2002 he has nonetheless represented his country at every age group for which he has been eligible.