Stern: Sky’s the limit for Bart Verbruggen – Football News

Stern: Sky’s the limit for Bart Verbruggen

Goalkeeping coach Jack Stern is not surprised that Bart Verbruggen has taken to tournament football so well and believes the sky is the limit for Albion’s ‘world class professional.’

The 21-year-old impressed on his debut in a major competition for the Netherlands in their 2-1 win over Poland in their opening game at the Euros on Sunday. He will face an even sterner test against favourites France on Friday but after making so much progress in his first season in the Premier League Stern knows Albion have a top talent on their books.

“On a day to day basis, he’s brilliant to work with,” said Stern. “He’s a coach’s dream in that sense. He turns up ready to work, wanting to learn, wanting to push boundaries. He’s about as good as you could possibly work with.

By Paul Hazlewood

Jack Stern has been delighted with Bart Verbruggen’s progress.

“He’s always got something in his mind that he wants to improve. He takes on ideas that I or the head coach might have for him and he’s very good at adapting to what’s needed of him.”

Stern admits it’s hard to find fault in Verbruggen, who he believes has ‘the full package as a as a modern goalkeeper.’

“He’s incredibly good with his feet and has the ability to execute passes that only the top goalkeepers can execute and also the vision to see those passes.

By Paul Hazlewood

Bart enjoyed an impressive debut season for Albion, as did Joao Pedro.

“But he’s also got all the attributes of an old fashioned goalkeeper, if you like: stopping the ball, making saves. He’s good coming for crosses and defending his box. He’s dominant and good at defending the space outside his box as well. He doesn’t really have a key area of weakness. He’s got lots of things that he needs to keep working on but there’s no area of his game that’s really lacking.”

Verbruggen spent much of last season sharing goalkeeping duties with Jason Steele but finished as first choice and made 30 appearances across all competitions including 21 Premier League starts.

“When we signed him he’d only played just over 20 professional games in his whole career. We knew that we needed to give him time to settle in. He came to us from Anderlecht, which is a top club in Belgium, but still a step down from the Premier League,” added Stern.

By Paul Hazlewood

The goalkeeper made three appearances in the Europa League for Albion, keeping three clean sheets.

“So he had to adjust to the Premier League and what we wanted him to do. At the beginning of the season it felt like the right thing to rotate him and to not play him every week and to give him a chance to settle. 

“But as the season went on it became really clear that he was outstanding, that he needed more games to progress. He played ten out of the last 11 games and showed to everyone that he was a top-level goalkeeper.”

Another part of Verbruggen’s make-up which has impressed his coach is that he is a low maintenance player.

By Paul Hazlewood

Bart joined us from Anderlecht in 2023.

“Before kick-off he’s very focused on the game. He doesn’t need any other information,” said Stern. “He goes into his own world and I think you see that when he plays, his concentration is really good. He has his own psychologist whom he speaks to once every month to just go through any issues that he might have come up.

“I’ve worked with other goalkeepers who are a lot more animated on the day of the game or need lots of motivation and lots of talking to. He’s not one of them.

“When we signed him we were very sure that we were getting a really good person as well as a really good goalkeeper. He’s a world class professional and he’s going to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world eventually.

“The other thing that surprised me about him was how little he needs praise. After a few sessions he said to me that I kept telling him well done for simple things. He just wants the truth and he wants someone to make him get better all the time.”

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