World Cup Emerging Players: Cody Gakpo

cody gakpo

The Netherlands have produced some of football’s greatest attackers. From the likes of Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten in the ’70s and ’80s to Dennis Bergkamp and Robin Van Persie in the ’90s and ’00s, they have had it all. At the 2022 Qatar World Cup, they have found their next shining star in Cody Gakpo.

World Cup Emerging Players: Cody Gakpo

Cody Gakpo’s Progression Through PSV Youth Teams

Cody Gakpo was born in Eindhoven, home to one of the “big three” Eredivisie clubs, PSV Eindhoven. His father is of Togolese heritage, while his mother is Dutch. His father was a professional footballer and his mother was a rugby professional. As a kid he frequently watched games at the Philips Stadium, idolising legends like Patrick Kluivert and Arjen Robben.

Gakpo was part of  Jong PSV, the youth team which plays in the second division in the Netherlands. He made his professional debut for them in November 2016 at the age of 17. From that point onwards there was no looking back. In the 26 appearances he made across three seasons for them, the winger scored 17 goals. This earned him a call up to the first team.

Domestic and International Success

In February 2018, Gakpo made his debut for PSV Eindhoven as an 18-year old. Under the tutelage of ex-Dutch captain Mark van Bommel, who noticed his raw potential, the now Dutch international flourished. He became a regular starter for the club during the 2019-20 season which saw him score seven goals and bag as many assists.

Now age 22, he has since become the team’s talisman, winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year in the 2021-22 season. His goal against bitter rivals, Ajax Amsterdam helped PSV win the KNVB Cup after 10 years. Furthermore, he has played a huge part in the club’s European success. Overall, he has scored 72 goals over 185 appearances for the club. He is fondly called Eintovenaar by the Dutch fans which translates to ‘wizard’ in the English language.

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In addition to his domestic exploits, Gakpo has shone brilliantly for the Clockwork Orange. He made his debut in the 2020 UEFA Euro Championships. Since then, he has scored seven goals in only 13 appearances for the national side. His most notable contributions have come in the ongoing World Cup where he scored in his first three appearances.

Attracting Interest Across Europe

Few players possess the rare combination of speed and physicality that Cody Gakpo does. He is often employed as a left winger for his teams. However, he often cuts inside on his right foot to move to a more central attacking position. Moreover, he has the ability to dribble and take on defenders until he finds the space to make an attempt on goal.

Gakpo’s versatility has garnered attention from a host of clubs across Europe. Despite interest from Leeds United, Southampton and Arsenal in the summer transfer window, he chose to remain with his boyhood club. Following his World Cup exploits, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United are reportedly interested in his signature.

One can clearly see why Gakpo is touted to be the next big Dutch player. As Oranje make a deep run in the tournament, their fans would be praying that he leads their nation to a first major trophy in 34 years.

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