Hamburg's prodigiously talented Dutch winger Eljero Elia has been catching the eye all over Europe - now it's the world's turn. Elia looks to set the World Cup alight with his lightning display.
Hamburg's Eljero Elia is ready to set the world alight
Exciting, young attacking talent: this is a phrase which should be patented by the Dutch soccer system, such is its record for producing players fitting that bill. One of the latest, Hamburg's Eljero Elia has been in inspired and electric form this season in the Bundesliga and will be hoping to torment international defenses this summer as part of Bert van Marwijk's Netherlands squad at the World Cup.
After coming through that magician's school which is Ajax Amsterdam's youth set-up and featuring for Eredivisie sides ADO Den Haag and FC Twente in his homeland, Elia moved to Hamburg in what many people say was the club's best signing of the season last summer.
Such has been the winger's impact in Northern Germany that rumors had been flying that a good World Cup would see him leave for one of Europe's biggest clubs, many of which have already been sniffing around, after only a few months in the Bundesliga.
Elia put that to rest this week, however, telling Germany's mass-market Bild newspaper "I'll play for Hamburg next year - I'm not close to being finished there."
Elia's electric pace and ball control means many a defender is left to grasp at straws
A player blessed with incredible pace and the ability to maintain ball control while seemingly moving at mach 2, Elia is equally capable of bursting into space as weaving his way through a crowd of defenders.
The young Dutch flyer is also one of those rare players who can conjure something out of nothing. With a game awareness which is boggling for someone of such a young age, the 23-year-old can capitalize on the smallest mistake or spot the tiniest of openings and exploit it with his pace and control. The scary thing is, he's still getting better.
While still seen as a deputy to Arjen Robben in the Oranje's attacking arsenal, Elia is all the more valuable given the rigors of a World Cup campaign and Bayern Munich star Robben's propensity for injuries.
Should Robben fall foul of some mugging tactics in South Africa - or simply need a breather in the midst of a trying series of matches - the Dutch will still have one of the world's most exciting young wingers on hand to replace him.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann