Van der Saag’s timely run to the Reds

Harry Van der Saag prepares to make his A-Leagues debut for the Reds against the Nix.

Much like his Head Coach, Carl Veart, has already instilled in him, Harry Van der Saag’s run to Adelaide United has come at the perfect time.

With a full pre-season under his belt, Van der Saag notes Veart has been spending considerable time to help him time his forward runs to perfection and not leave his defenders exposed.

It all culminated in a first start in red for the hard-working wingback, who found offensive freedom as per Veart’s offensive gameplan, yet he also reported for his defensive duties.

“I’ve already learned a lot from Carl, and the coaches here as well, when the right time is to go and bomb-on and that was probably missing from my game; when to go and when to rest and make sure I’m not leaving my centre backs in the dark essentially,” Van der Saag explained.

“It (the debut) was awesome, and the boys made me feel at home, so I didn’t have any added pressure on me.

“I just sort of try and play my game and I thought I was linking up with my new team-mates quite well.

Harry Van der Saag making his A-Leagues debut for Adelaide United.

“We could have and should have got a win, but it’s a tough place to go, Wellington, so we take the point and move forward.

“I was pretty happy to make my debut and I can’t wait to play in front of my new home crowd in a few short weeks.”

Van der Saag’s starting berth saw him feature for 58 minutes before he was subbed off for returning Captain, Craig Goodwin, and he aims to follow in the footsteps of a long line of successful United full-backs.

And there’s one right beside him, in fact beside him, on almost every car trip to Playford for training: Spanish stalwart, Javi López.

“Just watching Javi in training is a real pleasure, he’s probably one of the best right backs in the league.

Harry Van der Saag putting in the work at the VALO Training Centre.

“To be able to pick his brain on little things, he’s one of the best defenders that I’ve seen and obviously his experience as captain of Espanyol counts for so much.

“I go to training with him and (James) Delianov every day so I’m always talking to him about the game and it’s so beneficial for me as a young player to learn from him.”

His switch to red had been a few years in the making, with former Director of Football, Bruce Djite, initially expressing interest in the young defender, who arrived with 45 matches across all competitions to his name, and a Premiership and Championship double in 2020 with Sydney FC.

Veart, earlier in pre-season, expressed his satisfaction on the signing: “Harry has been on our radar for some time now and we’re delighted to have finally been successful in bringing him over to the Club.

“Harry is a player with a lot of potential and one we feel can take his game to another level here at Adelaide because the environment we have established at the Club is one that enables young players every opportunity to flourish.”

George Blackwood and Harry Van der Saag enjoying training at the VALO Training Centre.

The 22-year-old grew up in Sydney with a Dutch grandfather and spent a lot of his sporting career like a lot of NSW youngsters do; he switched between rugby league and football until the latter finally took precedence.

He continued and persisted until realising he could make a career from the game and started knocking on the door of Sydney FC through the youth programs.

Van der Saag moved through the academy and underage pathway until he was called upon at the last minute to make his professional debut against Kylian Mbappé’s Paris Saint-Germain and was conveniently required to mark the French World Cup winner at just 18.

He credits that as a “pretty cool” experience, and just one part of the track that has led him to Adelaide United.