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CCF Rebooted 21: Pim Balkestein
Wednesday, 5th Jan 2022 13:53 by AtThePeake

A player that perhaps would've been more suited to a bygone era, Pim Balkestein was another player who struggled during a short spell at Rochdale in the 2011/2012 season.

Position: Centre-back

Arrived from: Brentford (loan)

Played : 2011

Appearances : 13

Goals : 0

Left for: Brentford (end of loan)

Born to former PSV Eindhoven Luuk Balkestein in the historical Dutch city of Gouda (I'll resist the considerable urge to stick any cheese puns in here), Pim Balkestein came through the ranks of Heerenveen as a youngster before moving to England in 2008 to join Ipswich Town in a deal worth around £180,000 in compensation to the Eredivisie outfit.

He made his league debut for the Tractor Boys aged 21, and would make 20 appearances in his first season at Portman Road, winning the club's most improved player award and showing some potential in the heart of the defence.

However, after finding his first-team opportunities a little more limited in the following season, Balkestein opted to join Brentford on loan, making eight appearances before being recalled to act as cover after an injury crisis back in Suffolk. In March of the 2009/2010 season, Balkestein returned to Griffin Park for a second loan spell and impressed sufficiently, securing himself a permanent move in the summer of 2010.

A favourite of manager Andy Scott, Balkestein found himself out of the team when German boss Uwe Rosler took over midway through the 2010/2011 season and having made 25 appearances for the Bees, he joined Dale on loan early in the 2011/2012 season.

When I first laid eyes on Balkestein I had a misguided sense of optimism. Not because I'd heard much about his career beforehand, but because he just looked like a footballer. He had the right body shape, the white tape that was the fashion of the time and the gelled across hairstyle of your stereotypical continental centre-back.

However, in a team that never quite gelled, Balkestein was another clumsy addition to the defence. Never particularly balanced or comfortable with attackers running at him, he did at least bring some physicality to the backline as physically, he was imposing to say the least.

Although not the most technical player, I do remember him coming close to bursting the net a couple of times with some thunderous long-range efforts but defensively, he left a lot to be desired aside from a couple of decent performances in narrow victories when he was left to do the absolute basics of defending and nothing more.

On the whole though he was cumbersome, lacked positional sense and was lacking in pace, which was very clear to see in a side that was struggling for confidence and cohesion in his spell with the club. When he was asked to fill in at left-back, that lack of mobility was even more obvious and he never really looked like being the answer to Dale's defensive woes that season.

After an injury effectively ended his loan spell, Balkestein was sent instead to AFC Wimbledon and, mirroring his move to Brentford earlier in his career, impressed enough to convince the club to sign him on a permanent deal - despite breaking his toe in his sixth and final match during that short spell at Kingsmeadow.

In one season as a permanent player with the Dons, Balkestein scored twice in 24 appearances but then found himself returning to his home country to join second-tier outfit VVV Venlo.

After 60 appearances and four goals at De Koel, Balkestein briefly moved to Germany to join Regionalliga outfit SV Elversberg, but would return to the Netherlands after just four matches to join fourth-tier outfit De Treffers after seeing his contract cancelled by the Saarland based club.

Six years later and Balkestein remains with semi-professional De Treffers, now as captain with the team plying their trade in the third tier. He's also developed a keen eye for goal for a defender, scoring 13 times in his 91 appearances for the Groesbeek-based club.

Photo: Action Images

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