Blog: Concrete Ron Vlaar setting the ultimate example
Paul Brown on Ron Vlaar.
10th Jul 2014
Blog: Concrete Ron Vlaar setting the ultimate example


Yes the emotions for Ron Vlaar will be raw right now after the Netherlands exit from the World Cup.

But when Villa's skipper looks back at the tournament in the next couple of weeks, pride must be the overriding feeling.

Vlaar had already performed admirably in every game leading up to the semi-final against Argentina.

And when he stepped up for action in the exciting last four encounter, his performance was top-class.

The stats don't lie. He won 100% of his tackles. He won 100% of his aerial duels. He made eleven clearances and six interceptions and enjoyed 92% pass accuracy.

But his key performance indicator must surely be that he had the world's best player - Lionel Messi - in his back pocket.

He will hopefully wear a wide smile when he goes back over the social media conversation in the wake of his dynamic display.

Paul McGrath tweeted: "Ron Vlaar brilliant. Hold your head up high!"

BBC analyst Rio Ferdinand also tweeted his praise: "Ron Vlaar has been immense. Best centre-back performance of the tournament so far for me."

The support from the claret and blue army throughout the game on Twitter was unprecedented.

The national newspapers all voted him their 'star man' in their player analysis pieces - the Daily Mirror gave him seven out of ten and said: "Holland's best player - who got stronger and stronger."

Boss Louis van Gaal also hailed him post-match as "the best player on the pitch."

Vlaar will be feeling hurt after his spot-kick miss in the penalty shoot-out - just ask Darius Vassell and Gareth Southgate - but that agony will abate quicker for him than most.

He is not called 'Concrete Ron' for no reason.

Remember, this is a man who had absolutely no hesitation in agreeing to take the nerve-filled spot-kick after two colleagues gave a resounding no to the same question.

That's the measure of the man.

"I'd never walk away from my responsibility. I wasn't nervous, I was focused, but it had to go in and it didn't," said Vlaar.

He will take some time off now to gather his thoughts before returning to Bodymoor Heath for the upcoming season.

And when there, he will not expect sympathy but rather step into his role of skipper with ease - and continue to inspire others through his words and deeds.

Vlaar

Gary Gardner has had a torrid time with injuries these past few seasons - and he counts Vlaar as one of the biggest sources of support on his road to recovery.

"Ron is just an inspiration. He's the most dedicated footballer I've ever met," said Gardner.

"He has done brilliantly in the World Cup. But in all honesty I expected that because of his attitude. He's the first one in at the training ground and he's the last one to leave. He's a brilliant captain.

"On the pitch, he's always solid as a rock.

"I have had my injuries and so has he. He has always put an arm around me at the training ground. He's always been asking how I was getting on, how I was feeling mentally, asking if there was anything he could do. That's the measure of the man."

Callum Robinson will be looking to make a big impact this term after penning a new two-year deal and he says Vlaar is the sort of professional he aspires to be.

"It's been great watching Ron play so well in the World Cup. It's so strange to think I train with him - and then I'm seeing him play in the biggest ever tournament," said Robinson.

"He's undoubtedly the most professional player I have ever worked with. He's so focused."

With all this in mind, it will definitely be drive rather than despair that Vlaar brings back from Brazil.

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