Steven Bergwijn has revealed that he promised to score on his Tottenham debut for childhood friend and fellow Ajax academy product Appie Nouri.
Nouri suffered a cardiac arrest during a friendly game in 2017. He survived, but suffered permanent brain damage as a result.
Bergwijn, who played with Nouri for six years in Ajax’s academy before leaving for PSV, says he had a conversation with Mohammed Nouri, Appie’s younger brother, prior to his Premier League debut against Manchester City in which he scored the game’s opening goal.
“I spoke with his brother and he told me: ‘You’re going to score for Appie,’” Bergwijn said to The Guardian. “And I said: ‘OK, watch me, I’m going to score.’ I did it.
“When I heard Appie had brain damage, I just can’t describe my feelings. At that time I didn’t sleep so much.
"In the first weeks I was scared to play, scared to go on the pitch because Appie was a young boy and out of nowhere [he collapsed].
“It was difficult. It’s still difficult. I speak to his brother every day but it’s still difficult.”
Bergwijn, meanwhile, has revealed how his move to Tottenham happened very quickly, and that he was expecting to leave PSV in the summer, rather than in January.
“My father called me and said: ‘Pack your stuff, you’re going to London.’
“It was fast. I didn’t expect to make the transfer in January. I thought in the summer. But if Tottenham wants you, you can’t say no.”
He also revealed his ambitions to be successful in England and welcomes comparisons to Manchester United legend and fellow Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy, who coached him at PSV.
“That’s why I’m here. You want to be the biggest, the greatest. I hope I can be that big in England.”
Another ambition of Bergwijn’s is for his trademark celebration to be included in the video game FIFA at some point.
“[The celebration is] one I have done all through my career. One of my friends told me to do it, so I did. I hope they will have it on FIFA one day.”