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Top Facts about Dries Mertens, Napoli's Top Goal Scorer

Mon 17 May 2021 | 19:29

Here is a look at top facts about Dries Mertens, Napoli's all-time top goalscorer.

Dries Mertens, nicknamed Ciro, is a Belgian professional football player who plays as a forward or winger for Napoli and the Belgium national team. Mertens is now Napoli's best all goal scorer ever. We will have a look at top facts about him.

Top Facts about Dries Mertens, Napoli's Top Goal Scorer

​Dries Mertens, nicknamed Ciro, is a Belgian professional football player who plays as a forward or winger for Napoli and the Belgium national team. Mertens is now Napoli's best all goal scorer ever.

Dries Mertens Childhood and family life

Dries Mertens was born on the 6 of May 1987 in Leuven, Belgium’s Flemish region. His mother is Marijke Mertens and his father is Herman Mertens. Dries comes from a humble family background from parents who really love football.

He grew up while he had so much respect for his parents who taught him the required ethical and right values of life. On of such involves Dries learning how to be happy with the little things in life.

One of the

top facts about Dries Mertens

is that while was educated at school, Dries Mertens was a modest and reserved boy who performed well in his lessons. Back then, his school offered him the opportunity to fervently play competitive football during sports time. Ideally, Dries Mertens used every moment he had during breaks to play football. His ability to control the ball more than his team-mates led to his school coach meeting his parents and recommending them to help their son become a professional football player.

As his parents were so intelligent, they already made their son registered on the list of the local team, Stade Leuven two years before the France 1998 World Cup which sparked the Belgium football revolution.

Dries Mertens Early career

When the football revolution started in Belgium, investment for youth football development became accessible. It favoured bigger clubs like Anderlecht whose youth were empowered to get gifted children from local teams. These scouts of Anderlecht first recognized Dries Mertens in his club, finally resulting in offering a chance to join the youth academy of the club in 1998.

Diers Mertens’ parents were not so rich, but they gave their best support for their son.

Dries Mertens has said, “My father usually drives me with his bus to Anderlecht and he took me from the age of 11 to 18 years old every day to training in Brussels.”

After he joined Anderlecht, his old club got dissolved by the Belgium football Authorities who wanted to eliminate mushroom clubs at that time.

Dries Mertens spent five years in the youth team at Anderlecht. Then he faced the worst disappointment of his life in his youth. He was being released in 2003 because his coaches thought he was too short and physically unable of competing at a professional level.

Following his release from Anderlecht, Dries Mertens signed a contract with Belgian Pro League side, Gent where he manage to climb all youth ranks to finish his youth career.

It was a problem to develop in his career again. The coaching staff at Gent, like those at Anderlecht, remained sceptical of Dries Mertens given his slight frame. Instead of selling him off, they decided to send him on loan to AGOVV Apeldoorn in the Netherlands in 2006.

Mertens' good form encouraged AGOVV and their new manager John van den Brom, to use the option to sign the Belgian permanently the following season. It was a move that was useful for the Dutch club as Dries Mertens ended the season scoring 15 goals in 38 matches for the club.

His influence was so great that Dries Mertens was named new captain of the team for the 2008–09 Eerste Divisie season. Mertens shined in his new role and contributed a further 13 goals for the season which contributed to him being awarded the Golden Bull award for the most gifted player in the Eerste Divisie. 

It was his last season with the team, nevertheless, as at the end of the season he decided to join Eredivisie side Utrecht. Mertens made 110 appearances across all competitions for AGOVV during his three seasons at the club and scored 31 goals.

Dries Mertens at Utrecht

After agreeing a deal with AGOVV in March 2009, Utrecht officially completed the contract of Dries Mertens at the beginning of the 2009–10 Eredivisie season for a €600,000 transfer fee. In his first season with the team, Mertens scored six league goals and he was named runner-up to Ajax's Luis Suarez for the Dutch Footballer of the Year prize.

He was also awarded the Di Tommaso Trophy for Utrecht's Player of the Season. He developed on his tally the following season, scoring 10 goals in 31 league games for Utrecht, including a final day hat-trick against AZ, and a further three goals in his first experience in the UEFA Europa League.

Dries Mertens scored 14 goals in all competitions and contributed 24 assists. It was his last season at the team, however, as his form at the Stadion Galgenwaard caught the attention of some of the league's biggest clubs. Dries Mertens' two-season spell in Utrecht resulted in 21 goals in 86 matches across all competitions.

Dries Mertens at PSV Eindhoven

In June 2011, it was declared that Dries Mertens had signed for the Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven as a replacement for the departing Balázs Dzsudzsák in a dual transfer with Utrecht teammate Kevin Strootman for a fee of €13 million together. 

He scored on his first competitive match for the team on 7 August 2011, scoring PSV's only goal in a 3–1 loss to AZ. Later that month, on 28 August, Dries Mertens netted his first hat-trick for PSV in a 6–1 victory over Excelsior. 

Mertens' strong start to season ended with him scoring four goals in a 7–1 win against Roda JC on 24 September 2011, meaning he had scored 11 goals in his first 7 matches for PSV. Towards the back end of the competition, Mertens lost a number of teeth during a collision with Heracles goalkeeper Remko Pasveer, although he could score a goal during the incident.

Dries Mertens finally ended the season having netted 21 goals in 33 matches, the fourth top scorer in the Eredivisie. He also netted three goals in four KNVB Cup games, including a goal in the final at De Kuip, Rotterdam, leading PSV to a 3–0 victory over Heracles.

Dries Mertens added to his trophy at the start of the following season as PSV beat Ajax 4–2 to win the Johan Cruyff Shield. On 30 September 2012, Dries Mertens and Jurgen Locadia, who was playing his first game in Eredivisie, both scored hat-tricks as PSV defeated VVV-Venlo 6–0. 

Mertens finally netted 14 league goals, and 16 across all competitions as PSV ended the season at the second rank behind Ajax in the Eredivisie. Dries Mertens also assisted 17 goals.

It was his last season in the Eredivisie, though, as at the end of the season PSV accepted an offer from Serie A side Napoli for his signature. Dries Mertens left PSV Eindhoven after playing in 88 matches and scoring 45 goals over the course of two seasons.

Dries Mertens at Napoli

On 16 June 2013, Dries Mertens' agent Soren Lerby confirmed that the football player had agreed to sign a contract with Napoli. He was Rafael Benítez's first signing as new Napoli manager after he agreed with a reported fee of €9.5 million with PSV Eindhoven. 

He made his Serie A first appearance on 25 August 2013, coming on as a second-half substitute for Marek Hamšik in a 3–0 victory over Bologna. 

One of the

top facts about Dries Mertens

is that his first goal for

Napoli

was scored on 30 October when he netted the winner in a 2–1 away win over Fiorentina. In Napoli's first game following the Serie A winter break on 6 January 2014, Dries Mertens netted his first double for the team in a 2–0 victory over Sampdoria. 

He then scored Napoli's second goal in their 2–0 victory over Juventus on 30 March, aiding inflict only the second league defeat over the ultimate champions of Serie A. In the final match of the Coppa Italia on 3 May 2014, Dries Mertens replaced Marek Hamšík in the 64th minute and scored in injury time, securing a 3–1 victory over

Fiorentina

.

Dries Mertens won another trophy on 22 December 2014 in the game where Napoli won over Juventus in the Supercoppa penalty shoot-out. Despite the fact that he was mostly used as a substitute, he continued his good form for Napoli over the period of the next season and a half, scoring 10 goals and contributing 11 assists in all competitions in 2014–15. He also scored 11 more goals in 2015–16. 

His record in the latter season included a double in Napoli's joint-largest ever winning margin in the Europa League, a 5–0 victory over Belgian team Club Brugge. Dries Mertens also scored a second-half hat-trick in a considerable 6–0 win over Bologna on 19 April 2016.

One of the

top facts about Dries Mertens

is that after Napoli sold Gonzalo Higuain to their rivals Juventus, and a severe injury to his replacement Arkadiusz Milik, Mertens assumed a more senior role in the centre of Napoli's attack for the 2016–17 Serie A season. 

On 4 February 2017, Mertens and Hamšík both scored hat-tricks in a 7–1 brilliant victory over Bologna, a result which saw Napoli netted seven away goals in a game for the first time in the club's history. 

On the final day of the season he managed to score his 50th league goal for Napoli, and 28th in the league, finally he ended only one goal behind Golden Boot winner Edin Džeko. He continued his goal scoring form the following season during which he scored 22 goals in the Serie A.

On 28 November 2018, Dries Mertens netted his 100th goal for Napoli when he scored twice in a 3–1 UEFA Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade. He then played in his 200th Serie A match for the team on 14 April 2019 in a 3–1 victory over Chievo, where he assisted for Kalidou Koulibaly's opening goal. 

On 28 April, Mertens netted in a 2–0 away victory over Frosinone, which allowed him to equal Diego Maradona's record of 81 goals in Serie A for Napoli. 

The next season, in October 2019, he exceeded Maradona's record of 115 goals for the club across all competitions when he scored twice in a 3–2 Champions League victory over Red Bull Salzburg and he became the club's second-highest scorer of all time, behind Hamšík. 

Dries Mertens scored the opening goal in 1–1 home draw against Barcelona on 25 February 2020 in the first leg of the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. With this goal, he tied Hamšik as Napoli's all-time highest goal scorer, with 121 goals.

On 13 June, he netted the equalizing goal in a 1–1 home draw against Inter Milan in the second leg of 2019–20 Coppa Italia semi-final, which saw him surpass Hamšik to become Napoli's all-time best goal scorer with 122 goals. The result also permitted Napoli to reach to the Coppa Italia Final. 

On 17 June, he signed a two–year contract extension with Napoli. Later that day, he started the match in the Coppa Italia final against Juventus, and was substituted for Milik in the second half. Finally, Napoli won 4–2 on penalties following a 0–0 draw after regulation time and Dries Mertens lifted another trophy.

Dries Mertens at Belgium National Team

One of the top facts about Dries Mertens is that he was called up for the senior Belgium national team by coach Georges Leekens for the nation's UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Kazakhstan and Austria. 

Though he never played in either match, Dries Mertens would make his debut on 9 February the following year in a friendly match against 

Finland

 in Ghent.

He netted his first goal for Belgium national team in the 125th Derby der Lage Landen. Mertens, came on as substitute for Nacer Chadli, netted once and assisted twice, to aid Belgium to overcome a 2–1 deficit versus the Netherlands and win 4–2.

Dries Mertens was named in Marc Wilmots' 23-man team for Belgium's 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil on 13 May 2014. In the nation's final warm-up match for the tournament on 7 June, Mertens scored a late winner to secure a 1–0 win over Tunisia. He made his first appearance in Belgium's opening game of the World Cup, replacing Chadli at half time and he netted a late winner in a 2–1 win over Algeria in Belo Horizonte.

Prior to the World Cup, Dries Mertens had made a bet with his father that he would score at the competition. After the match, he posted a photo on Instagram of him shaving his father's moustache off as reward for winning the bet. He made five appearances altogether at the World Cup as

Belgium

was eliminated in the quarter-finals by the eventual runners-up, Argentina.

After the World Cup, Belgium started their qualification campaign for UEFA Euro 2016. Dries Mertens netted his first double for Belgium in their opening qualifying game, scoring twice in three minutes in a 6–0 victory over Andorra. 

The next year, he netted one and assisted another in a 3–1 victory over Israel which ensured that Belgium secured top place in their qualifying group. He was later named in Belgium's team for the tournament and played in all five of the nation's games as Belgium lost at the quarter-final stage once again, this time being defeated by Wales.

Under his new manager Roberto Martínez in Belgium, Dries Mertens netted five goals in Belgium's qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, including two goals in an 8–1 home victory over 

Estonia

He was then selected in Belgium's tournament team and netted in the Belgium's opening game in a 3–0 victory over Panama. He played as a starter and substitute for the remainder of the competition as Belgium ended the World Cup in the third place, defeating 

England 

in the third place play-off.

Dries Mertens Skills on the Pitch

One of the top facts about Dries Mertens is that he is an adaptable and hard-working attacker. 

Dries Mertens

is also a quick, inspired, diminutive, and nimble football player, with a low centre of gravity, who possesses good technique and dribbling abilities, which enables him to get past opponents when he is in possession of the ball. 

Having good vision, passing, shooting ability, movement off the ball, and an eye for goal, he is known for his capability both to score and create goals, and is able to get onto the end of passes or making space for himself or his teammates by making attacking runs into the box. 

His preferred role is as a winger on the left side, a position which allows him to cut into the centre and attack on goal from outside the area with his stronger right foot, though he is also able to play on the right, and has even been used as an attacking midfielder by one of his coach Dick Advocaat. 

Dries Mertens is also a precise free kick taker. During the 2016–17 season, following the departure of Gonzalo Higuain to rivals Juventus and an injury to the club's main striker Arkadiusz Milik, Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri regularly deployed Dries Mertens either as a main forward, or in a false nine role, seemingly positioned as a lone centre-forward, rather than as a left winger, where he had previously faced competition from 

Lorenzo Insigne

 for a starting position; Sarri's tactical change was met with great results, and Mertens's goalscoring output increased affectedly as a result of this shift.

Dries Mertens Relationship Life

One of the facts about Dries Mertens is about his personal life. He indeed a good-looking man. His heart belongs to his one and only childhood sweetheart, Kat Kerkhofs. Both lovers dated for 10 years before deciding to get married.

In June 2015, Mertens married his childhood love and partner Kat in Naples.

Kat is a dancer and researcher who comes from a wealthy family. Her father, Late Mr. Kerkhofs was a popular musician as well as a drummer in the seventies. He died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve of 2004.

Kat Kerkhofs once spoke to Belgian television channel Vier, where she confessed that she and her husband enjoy getting intimate in public.

One of the top facts about Dries Mertens is that Napoli once organized a couple-friendly Halloween. Dries Mertens and his wife Kat were forced to get creative by appearing as two teammates in the Napoli team.

Mertens revealed that he and his good lady spent their Halloween dressed as two of his Napoli teammates namely; Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik.

Dries Mertens Rejection of a Big Deal

One of the top facts about Dries Mertens is that he once refused to accept an expensive move to China on due to the fact that his parents would be disappointed with him if he had accepted. Dries Mertens explained how his parents’ ethics had made him resist the love for too much monies.

He said, “I have so much respect for what my parents did for me as a child. They did not raise me talking about money – I would have disappointed them if i went to china.”

“We weighed the pros and cons, my wife has read testimonials from people who live there. despitethat, i decided to say no. i can tell you that it is difficult to refuse such an amount. my children and even my grandchildren would no longer have had to worry about their future if i had accepted the offer.”

Quick Information about Dries Mertens

  • Born

    : on May 6, 1987

  • Place of Birth

    : Leuven  Belgium

  • Height

    : 1,69 m

  • Nationality

    : Belgium

  • Position of Playing

    : attack - Centre-Forward

  • Foot

    : right

  • Agent

    : Stirr Associates

  • Current Club

    : SSC Napoli

  • Joined Napoli

    : on 1 July 2013

  • Contract expires

    : on 30 June 2022

  • Date of last contract extension

    : on 17 June 2020

  • Outfitter

    : Nike  

 

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