He is considered to be one of the greatest Belgian forwards of his generation and a Napoli legend. In this article, we take a look at Dries Mertens biography.
Dries Mertens, born 6 May 1987 in Leuven, Belgium, is a Belgian international football player who plays as a forward or for the Belgian national team andSSC Napoli
He played for a number of Belgian clubs before moving to the Netherlands in 2006, where he made his mark with AGOVV. Since 2009 he made a name for himself with Utrecht, where he played for two years, and then PSV, where he wore the shirt for another two years, winning a cup and a national Supercup. Since 2013 he has played for Napoli, with whom he has won two Italian Cups and an Italian Super Cup and for whom he is the top scorer in all official competitions, as well as the top scorer in European competitions.
He was included in the AIC Team of the Year of the 2016-2017 Serie A championship and, on an individual level, was elected Belgian footballer of the year in 2016.
He was called up to the Belgium squad for the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Austria on 1 October 2010. He did not play in Georges Leekens' first game in charge, but made his debut for Belgium in a friendly against Finland in Ghent on 9 February 2011, and scored his first goal for the national team in a friendly against the Netherlands on 15 August 2012.
He made five appearances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup for Belgium, scoring a goal againstAlgeria
. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, he scored the first goal in the first group match against Panama, then assisted Lukaku's goal in the second round against Tunisia, played 65 minutes from the start in the Round of 16 of the final stage against Japan, and played in the third-place play-off, making six appearances in all.
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Dries Mertens biography
Dries Mertens nationality
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Dries Mertens Bio
Full Name: Dries Mertens
Profession: Professional Footballer
Dries Mertens Physical Stats
Weight: 61 Kg
Height: 1.69 m
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Black
Dries Mertens Football Information
Jersey Number: 14
Professional Debut: 2005
Dries Mertens Date of Birth and Personal Info
Date of Birth: 6 May 1987
Birth Place: Leuven, Belgium
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
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Dries Mertens biography
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Dries Mertens nationality
Mertens is the son of Herman and Marijke Mertens. His father was an ex-top gymnast and sports teacher in secondary education. He was even Belgian champion.
Dries Mertens first played in the youth academy of Stade Leuven (now Oud-Heverlee Leuven). As a four-year-old, he joined his older brother Jeroen, who also played for Leuven. After that, he played for RSCAnderlecht
from the age of eleven until the age of eighteen. He played there together with Sven Kums, among others. At the latter club, he was dismissed because he was not good enough and was considered too small.
In 2005 he went to the youth team of KAA Gent, where he was coached by Etienne De Wispelaere. He played in the second team. At Gent, they had their doubts about him, because of his small stature and lack of physical strength.
Mertens is good friends with the footballer and local Denis Odoi, with whom he played youth football for Stade Leuven and RSC Anderlecht. In Landen, he played on an indoor football team together with Odoi and Mirallas, among others. When they were fifteen, their club no longer allowed them to play for this club.
After the New Year, in the 2005/06 season, De Wispelaere (his coach with the Ghent U21s) became head coach at Eendracht Aalst. The new coach suggested that KAA Gent should loan out Mertens for six months to Aalst, which at the time was a third division club.
The promising youngsters' Steve De Ridder and Ludovic Buysens were also loaned out fromGent
to Aalst. At Aalst, Mertens started to become stronger, making his first appearance in the first team in his very young career. In fourteen matches he scored four times. He has also voted the best player that season at Eendracht Aalst.
After six months at Aalst, he returned to KAA Gent. There, it seemed that the loan move had all been for nothing. He was back again at where he started: the second team. Head coach Georges Leekens did not believe in Dries Mertens. They pointed out his short height, whereas Boussoufa was about the same height as he was. He had to try his luck somewhere else. As a young player, he had to play to be able to make progress.
His agent Gunther Jacob went looking for a team in theNetherlands
. Gent loaned Mertens to Dutch second division club AGOVV Apeldoorn, at the suggestion of technical manager Ted van Leeuwen. In Apeldoorn, he met Sherjill Mac-Donald, whom he had known from Anderlecht. In the Netherlands, football is more suited to younger players, and opportunities are given to youngsters.
In his first season, the then 19-year-old footballer became one of the best players. He managed to find the net twice in 35 matches. Mertens grew into a crowd favorite in Apeldoorn. The crowd enjoyed his creativity and agility.
After the loan period, AGOVV Apeldoorn was convinced and decided to sign Mertens. He was given a contract until mid-2010 at the club of coach John Van Den Brom. Apeldoorn took him over for just €46,000. In the 2007/08 season, Mertens continued to improve. He became one of the hottest players in the First Division. Soon after, Mertens, at the age of 21, became captain of the club from Apeldoorn.
That season, he scored 15 times in 38 matches. At Apeldoorn, he played alongside Belgians Nacer Chadli and Christian Kabeya. Kabeya was seen as the biggest talent, then Chadli and then Mertens. Mertens played mainly on the left, and Chadli on the right.
In the following 2008/09 season, Mertens was once again the crowd favourite at AGOVV Apeldoorn. He stood out with his passes, moves and shots. In that season he scored thirteen times in 35 matches. At the end of that season, Mertens won the 'Gouden Stier' (Golden Bull), which is given to the best talent in the First Division. On 25 May 2009, Mertens announced that he wanted to leave as there was enough interest from theEredivisie
. In three seasons for AGOVV, Mertens scored thirty times in 108 matches.
As soon as Mertens had announced that he was leaving AGOVV Apeldoorn, it was reported thatFC Utrecht
had signed the Belgian for €600,000. Mertens signed a contract in De Domstad until mid-2014, with an option for two more years, preferring Utrecht to AZ because he could get more playing opportunities there.
Although it was a big step forward for him, Mertens continued to score goals and provide assists in Stadion Galgenwaard. He settled in very easily. On 1 August 2009, Mertens debuted at FC Utrecht and also in the Eredivisie against RKC Waalwijk. He scored his first goals on 16 August 2009 against VVV-Venlo. The match ended 2-2, with two goals by Dries. During his first season at FC Utrecht, he was part of the team that reached European football again after four years. He scored six goals and played 34 times as a starting player.
At the end of the season, Mertens was awarded the David di Tommaso trophy, for FC Utrecht's most valuable player of the season by the supporters. Dries Mertens finished in second place after Luis Suárez (Ajax) in the Dutch Football Player of the Year election. For this, he received the Silver Shoe. He impressed with his technical skills and a lot of assists.
In August 2010, he extended his contract until the summer of 2014. In the 2010/11 season, Mertens was again a key player at FC Utrecht. He scored ten goals in 31 matches. On 29 January 2011, it was announced that Ajax, after the departure of Luis Suárez, was interested in Dries Mertens. One day later, FC Utrecht rejected a first offer fromAjax
for its star player.
In the summer, both Ajax and his youth club RSC Anderlecht were interested, but they were not willing to pay the high transfer fee. Later on, PSV came forward for Mertens. FC Utrecht rejected the first bid of over €10,000,000 for the duo of Dries Mertens and Kevin Strootman.
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On 28 June 2011, PSV reached an agreement with FC Utrecht and Mertens went, just like teammate Kevin Strootman, to PSV. The transfer price for the two players together was estimated at around €13,000,000. Both players were internationals at that time. Just like Strootman, Mertens signed a contract for 5 years at PSV.
He received the number 14. Mertens was the replacement for Balázs Dzsudzsák, who left for Russia. He debuted on 5 July 2011 in the shirt of PSV. He came on in the second half during a friendly match against RKSV Halsteren, in which PSV won 0-10. Mertens scored the 0-8 and the 0-9 goals.
He made his official debut for PSV on 7 August 2011 in a 3-1 lost league match against AZ. Mertens scored PSV's only goal. During the PSV-Excelsior match (6-1 win) exactly three weeks later, he scored a hat trick for the first time and gave one assist.
In his first 5 league games, Mertens scored 7 times. On 24 September 2011, Mertens scored no less than four times in one match during a 7-1 victory over Roda JC, and with eleven goals in the first seven league matches, Mertens had already surpassed his record from last season at FC Utrecht. In 33 league games combined, he scored 21 goals. This put him in fourth place in the top goalscorers' standings.
Mertens scored his first 'European' goal for PSV on Thursday 15 September 2011. In a home match against Legia Warsaw in theUEFA Europa League
, he scored the only goal of the match after 21 minutes. In 11 European matches, he was good for three goals.
On 27 December 2011, the Spanish sports newspaper Marca published a list of the twenty greatest revelations of the first half of the season. There was room for one Belgian: Dries Mertens. He was accompanied by Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich
), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund) and Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), among others.
On 8 April 2012, PSV played the final of the TOTO KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) against Heracles Almelo at De Kuip in Rotterdam. The match ended 3-0 for PSV. Dries Mertens started the match and scored 2-0. He lost two front teeth in a duel with goalkeeper Remko Pasveer while scoring this goal, Mertens was replaced by Memphis Depay just before the end of the match. Throughout the cup competition, he was influential with three goals in five games.
In the 2012/13 season, Mertens was important for PSV again. On 30 September 2013, Mertens scored his second hat trick in the 0-6 victory against VVV-Venlo. He played 29 league games that season in which he scored 16 times. In all competitions combined, he scored 18 times that season for PSV, making him less productive than his first season in Eindhoven.
In his two seasons at PSV, Mertens was a key player. He played mostly as a striker on the left flank. He appeared in 88 official matches, in which he managed to score 45 times and provide 43 assists.
On 24 June 2013, he was signed by the Italian club Napoli for around €9.5 million. He made his debut in the Azzurri shirt and in Serie A on 25 August 2013 against Bologna, replacing Marek Hamšík in the 71st minute. The following 30 October, during the Fiorentina-Napoli match, he scored his first goal in Serie A sealing the final 2-1 for Napoli.
He scored his first double on 6 January 2014, in the 2-0 home win againstSampdoria
. On 3 May he won his first trophy with Napoli, the Coppa Italia, scoring the last goal in the victorious 3-1 final against Fiorentina at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. He ended the season with 11 goals in the league (in 33 appearances), plus two more in the Coppa Italia.
In a Europa League group stage match on 18 September 2014, he scored a double againstSparta Prague
(3-1), thus finding his first goals in the Azzurri shirt in UEFA club competitions. He scored 6 goals in the league and 4 in the Europa League during the season.
On 17 September 2015, he scored his first goals of the season: a double against Club Bruges in the first match of the Europa League group stage that ended 5-0 for Napoli. On 10 December 2015 he scored two goals in the return match of the Europa League won 5-2 against Legia Warsaw closing the group stage to the Neapolitan team with full points.
He scored his first hat-trick in Serie A on 19 April 2016 in the 6-0 home win against Bologna, a team against whom he had made his debut almost 3 years earlier in the Azzurri shirt in the league.
In the 2016-2017 season, the Belgian player was able to repeat the excellent performances of the previous year, despite the various difficulties encountered by Sarri's team. On the first day of the season, on 21 August 2016, he scored a double against Pescara, while on 28 September he scored two more goals in the Champions League match against Benfica.
On 11 December he scored a hat-trick in the league match against Cagliari. He scored a hat-trick on 18 December against Torino, a match that ended 5-3. He had another hat-trick on 4 February 2017 in a 1-7 away hammering of Bologna. He became an essential part of the team as the season progressed after Maurizio Sarri preferred him to Manolo Gabbiadini to replace the injured Arkadiusz Milik.
Although until then he had only been used on the left-wing, as a "false nine" he became an essential pillar of the team. He scored 28 goals (including 2 on penalties) in 35 league appearances, finishing second in theSerie A
scoring charts, just one goal behind Roma's Edin Džeko. In total, he scored 34 goals in 46 appearances this season in all competitions.
He started his new season at Napoli on 16 August 2017 by opening the scoring in the match against Nice (2-0) played at the Stadio San Paolo and valid for the first leg of the 2017-2018 Champions League preliminaries. He was included for the first time in his career among the 30 candidates for the Ballon d'Or on 9 October 2017. The season ended with 38 appearances and 18 goals in the league, for a total of 49 appearances and 22 goals in all competitions.
He scored a hat-trick on 2 November 2018 in the Serie A match Napoli-Empoli, which allowed him to surpass Careca and José Altafini in Napoli's all-time goalscorer list, with 98 goals. At the same time, he became the most prolific Belgian player in Serie A, surpassing Luís Oliveira, who stopped at 72 goals.
On 28 November, thanks to the double scored in the UEFA Champions League match won 3-1 at home against Red Star, he reached 100 goals with the Napoli side, also becoming their all-time top scorer in European competitions (20) and reaching 200 career goals. He matched Diego Armando Maradona in terms of the number of goals scored in Serie A on 28 April 2019, netting in the 2-0 away match against Frosinone.
The following 23 October, in the UEFA Champions League match, won 3-2 at Salzburg, he scored a brace, thus surpassing Maradona with 115 goals and becoming Napoli's second all-time top scorer after Marek Hamšík. On 25 February 2020, he equalled Hamšík's goal record (121) in the first leg of the Champions-League round of 16, at home against Barcelona (1-1).
He became the all-time top scorer in Neapolitan history on 13 June 2020, by scoring the 1-1 goal (number 122 in the Azzurri jersey) in the Coppa Italia semi-final return leg against Inter. Stay tuned to this section of Dries Mertens biography as we want to share some more information about his career in Belgium national team.
In October 2010, he was called up for the Red Devils for the first time without making an appearance. He made his first appearance for the Belgian national team on 9 February 2011 in a friendly match against Finland at the Jules-Otten Stadium in Ghent. He came on as a substitute for Nacer Chadli that day and the two teams drew 1-1.
On 15 August 2012, he made a major contribution to Belgium's 4-2 victory over the Netherlands, scoring a goal and providing two assists. He was part of the Belgian golden generation with Kevin De Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel and Christian Benteke.
He participated in his first World Cup match on 17 June 2014, coming on at half-time and scoring at the end of the match to give the Red Devils victory over Algeria. He also had a very good World Cup and Belgium were only eliminated in the quarter-finals by Argentina, on a goal by his Napoli teammate Gonzalo Higuaín.
In 2018, he was selected for the Belgian national team. He played 6 out of 7 matches for the Belgian national team. He scored the first goal for Belgium during the 2018 World Cup against Panama in the 47th minute of the game. The volley is among the best goals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia according to FIFA. The Red Devils finished third in the tournament, beating England 2-0 in the third-place play-off.
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Mertens is a left-winger, also used as a left trequartista by Dick Advocaat; with good technique, is a good scorer and assist-man, he prefers to start on the left side of the pitch and then move towards the goal. Under the orders of coach Maurizio Sarri, in 2016-2017, also aided by the sale of Gonzalo Higuaín and the injury of teammate Arkadiusz Milik, Mertens also began to play as a first-choice forward, with excellent results in terms of scoring.
As one of the Napoli legends and also as the record goalscorer for the Italian giants, many consider Dries Mertens to be one of the best Belgian strikers of all time.
Dries Mertens has scored so many goals during his career and preformed many celebrations after scoring those goals, but one of them that we simply cannot forget is the dancing celebration he performed after scoring a goal against FC Barcelona. After the match, he said in an interview that with the dancing celebration he wanted to mimic Tommaso Staracci, who is one of the backroom staff at Napoli and has a great relationship with the players, namely Dries Mertens.
In 2015, Dries Mertens and his wife Katrin Kerkhofs have given themselves a pleasant Christmas present. They bought a house in the heart of his home city Leuven, which is listed as a monument. The Dry Coningen dates from the sixteenth century and was inhabited by nobles and mayors. In recent years, it has been the office of property consultant Alexandra Gevers. When Mertens and his wife went to sound her out for a house, they promptly fell in love and eventually bought it.
In this section of Dries Mertens biography, we want to take a deeper look into the footballer’s personal life and share some info such as
Dries Mertens life story
Dries Mertens religion
His father Herman Mertens won five Belgian champion titles in floor gymnastics, while his mother, born Marijke Van Kampen, is a university lecturer in pedagogy; his brother Jeroen works in a Belgian television network as a writer and presenter.
In 2015, after around 10 years of relationship with his girlfriend Katrin Kerkhofs, the couple decided to get married. His wife is a TV producer and host in Belgium. As they are both working, the couple does not live together, while Dries resides in Naples and Katrin works in Belgium.
Mertens is actively involved in many charity works in Naples. According to reports, in March 2018, Dries and his friends went out to give free Pizzas to the homeless. He is also involved in other projects as he provides clothing to poor children in Naples. He also financially supports an animal shelter with his wife.
There are currently no reports on media regarding any legal issues or disputes of the Belgian football player Dries Mertens.
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Since the start of his career in 2006 in the Jupiler League with AGOVV Apeldoorn, Dries Mertens went on to play more than 633 matches for different clubs in all competitions, scoring 229 goals and providing 176 assists to his teammates. His best season in case of goals scored was the 2016/17 Serie A where he managed to score 28 goals in 35 matches played for Napoli.
He debuted forBelgium national team
under George Leekens when he was 23 years, 9 months and 3 days old. Since then, Mertens has played a total of 94 matches for his country and scored 21 goals. He has also given 28 assists to his teammates in international matches for Belgium.
During his time with PSV Eindhoven, Mertens won 2011/12 KNVB Cup and the 2012 Johan Cruyff Shield. In Italy, he has also managed to win Coppa Italia two times and the Supercoppa Italiana once.
On the international level, he had finished third in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Of his individual titles and awards, we can mention Belgian Third Division Player of the Season, Eerste Divisie Golden Bull, Belgian Footballer of the Year, Serie A Team of the Year and Serie A Top Assist Provider among others.