SC Heerenveen technical manager Gerry Hamstra has paid tribute to Joost van Aken following his big-money move to Sheffield Wednesday.
Towering centre-back Van Aken joined the Owls for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in excess of £4m, today.
Several clubs expressed an interest in van Aken, including Lazio and Konyaspor, but the lure of English football proved too difficult for the 23-year-old to refuse.
Van Aken, a graduate of Heerenveen’s youth system, made his debut for the Dutch club in 2013.
The left-footed defender clocked up 90 appearances for the Eredivisie outfit, notching three goals.
Strong in the air and comfortable in possession, van Aken featured on 26 occasions last term as Heerenveen secured a mid-table finish.
Speaking on Heerenveen’s official club website, Hamstra: “It’s a pity that we lose Joost just before the end of the transfer period.
“However, Joost has always been very correct and so we did not want to take him away.
“The challenge in the Championship has been awarded to him. From the youth training he played almost 100 games for our first team. We wish him a lot of luck at Sheffield Wednesday.”
Van Aken, capped three times at international level by Netherlands Under-21s, said he was “treated very well” by Heerenveen, describing his four-year stint on their books as “fantastic”.
“I am very grateful to the club, the trainers, the staff and the supporters,” said van Aken.
“At Sheffield, I hope to further develop myself to make the move to the Premier League one day.
“We are going to do every effort to get that done.”
Van Aken, who has signed a four-year contract at Hillsborough, will wear shirt number four and train with his new Wednesday teammates for the first time today. He could make his Owls debut against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, September 9.
Wednesday have been short of strength in depth at centre-half for some time. With Glenn Loovens still nursing a hip problem and Frederico Venancio’s international clearance taking longer than expected to be granted, Daniel Pudil has played out of position and partnered Tom Lees in defence in the last four matches.
But van Aken’s arrival means the Owls now possess four recognised central centre-halves.