Leeds United youngster reveals Stuart Dallas ‘love’ after horror injury and international pride

Leeds United goalkeeper Dani van den Heuvel says he is grateful for the call-up to Michael Reiziger’s Netherlands Under-21 squad after the car crash which almost robbed him of his professional career last summer.
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The young stopper is yet to make his senior debut for the Whites but finds himself included in an Under-21 group which features new Liverpool signing Ryan Gravenberch and AFC Ajax midfielder Kenneth Taylor.

Ex-Ajax and Middlesbrough defender Reiziger has replaced Erwin van de Looi as the Dutch Under-21 boss and sought to include Van den Heuvel in his first squad this month.

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"I didn't expect the invitation right away to be honest,” Van den Heuvel told Voetbalzone in the Netherlands. “It's always special to be part of the Dutch selection anyway. After a season like last year, it's extra special, of course. I've had a long injury, but in the end I was able to play a lot of games for Leeds [U21s].

“As a team we got promoted, so that was already a nice reward. I see this invitation as an extra reward, I'm very happy."

"I have seen Reiziger pass by regularly at Ajax, but I haven't really played under him yet. I just spoke with him very briefly and am positive about the first meeting. I'm looking forward to this week. I think he wants to play soccer the Dutch way. Show good soccer, bring out the individual strengths of the team and I hope to be able to contribute my part in that."

Van den Heuvel was ruled out for a number of months following a car crash last summer, which saw him sustain a broken jaw and fracture his neck. After a lengthy period of rehabilitation, the goalkeeper returned to the fringes of Leeds’ first-team, whilst featuring more regularly for the Under-21 squad.

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In particular, Van den Heuvel says time spent with Stuart Dallas in the treatment room at Thorp Arch helped him through his injury lay-off.

"Obviously my family, they were always with me. Also the love I received at Leeds helped me, it really is a family.

“You also have some older players who have been out of the rotation for a while. Stuart Dallas for example, he has helped me a lot to stay positive. He is currently suffering from a nasty injury himself, which made it easy for me to talk to him. Such an experienced player has been through everything, so that is hugely valuable.

“We often had the same training times so I never felt alone.”

Van den Heuvel’s Dutch side face Moldova and Macedonia in Under-21 European Championships qualifying this month.

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