With 34 goals in 60 international appearances, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar boasts a goalscoring record of which any top-class striker would be proud. Yet despite these figures, and his place among the top ten marksmen in his country’s history, this is a player who has rarely been the Netherlands’ first-choice No9.
His misfortune has been to coincide with Robin van Persie, the man who tops that all-time scoring list, and the player who outscored all others in the European Zone qualifiers for Brazil 2014. Nonetheless, Huntelaar - as the statistics show – has proved himself to be a more than adequate deputy whenever he has been called upon.
Louis van Gaal clearly values the Schalke star as a penalty box predator, and though he played just twice during the Netherlands’ preliminary campaign, he was still able to contribute two goals and an assist. Then again, finding the net has rarely proved a problem for Huntelaar in a career that has already brought him over 200 goals for both club and country.
Beloved by fans of AGOVV, Heerenveen and Ajax in his homeland, where his scoring ratio was close to a goal-a-game, the striker made the first big move of his career in 2009 when Real Madrid paid €20 million to take him to the Bernabeu. While his scoring record remained respectable, Madrid opted to offload him within a year, and a €15 million switch to AC Milan proved similarly unfulfilling.
It was only when Huntelaar agreed a move to Schalke in 2010 - with €14 million the fee on this occasion - that he finally found a home, and began to rediscover the form that had made him one of Europe’s sought-after strikers. Already into the top five of the Gelsenkirchen club’s all-time leading marksmen, he finished as the Bundesliga’s top scorer in 2011/12 with 29 goals and remains a dependable match-winner.