Jorrit Hendrix not only brings title-winning pedigree to Western Sydney Wanderers and the A-Leagues, but experience at the highest level in Europe. He speaks to aleagues.com.au’s Sacha Pisani.
It is not often a player spends 18 years at one of the biggest clubs in the Eredivisie; a team steeped in history, with 24 league titles and a pair of European crowns.
But, that’s exactly what Jorrit Hendrix did.
A product of the famous PSV academy, Hendrix was just seven years old when he first joined the Dutch powerhouse. By the time he played his last game in Eindhoven, he was 25 and had three league titles to his name.
“When you come to PSV at that age, you’re not aware of what the journey will be,” the 28-year-old told aleagues.com.au as he prepared for training ahead of Sunday’s visit of Perth Glory in the Isuzu UTE A-League.
“You just enjoy playing football with your teammates and friends. Then when you turn 12-13, you move to the city and the school there. Everything gets a little bit more serious.
“As soon as you sign your first contract, I was 16-17, then things become really serious. You’re working on making your debut in the first team, being in the squad, in the first team.”
Hendrix was just 18 when his career really clicked into gear. 10 days after making his professional bow for PSV’s second team in the Eerste Divisie, he was handed his senior bow by Dutch legend Phillip Cocu against NEC.
“I always dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. When the moment was there, of course you work for many years, and as soon as the moment is there, in that moment you’re the most happy person in the world,” he recalled.
“And actually, it’s just the start because you made it there but the journey will only begin there. Because you have to stay there. It’s just not getting there but staying there.”
Playing with PSV comes with pressure, naturally. It is one of the biggest clubs in the Netherlands, where only rivals Ajax have won more Eredivisie trophies.
This is also a club that won the 1988 European Cup under former Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink and the 1978 UEFA Cup. It is also where the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben and Memphis Depay emerged, and Ronaldo Nazario took his first steps in European football.
“If you play for PSV, you always play for the title with Ajax and Feyenoord. They expect you to win every game. We play a lot of European games and of course the pressure is there too but not as winning the title,” Hendrix said.
“The fans and everything around PSV expect you to win every game. Of course you have to deal with the pressure.”
From his first 100 matches playing for PSV, the Eindhoven-based team won 78. It placed Hendrix among the top 10 players with the most Eredivisie victories from their first 100 fixtures in the competitions – an illustrious list that includes the legendary Johan Cruyff as well as Edwin Van der Sar.
Hendrix was a key player for PSV across his eight senior seasons, impressing under Phillip Cocu and Mark Van Bommel as they won the Eredivisie in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18.
The one-time Netherlands international also won a pair of Johan Cruyff Shield trophies.
But his favourite Eredivisie trophy?
“In truth it was the last one because we beat Ajax in our home stadium 3-0 and became champions against them in our own stadium,” said, Hendrix, who is three games into his A-Leagues career with the Wanderers.
“That was the most special one. Every title has it’s own story. All three were nice, but if I could pick one it would be the last one.”
Naturally a centre-back who was moved into midfield, Hendrix was a key player for PSV across his eight senior seasons, impressing under Cocu and Mark Van Bommel both domestically and in Europe.
He was part of some special European nights in the UEFA Champions League, including a famous 2-1 win over Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United in the 2015-16 group phase.
Hendrix played the entire match as PSV stunned the Red Devils – the Dutch club qualified ahead of United to set up a last 16 showdown with Atletico Madrid.
“It was the first time in seven or eight years that PSV had played Champions League football again,” said Hendrix, who played with Australians Trent Sainsbury and Aziz Behich at PSV.
“The first home game was against United and we beat them 2-1. Memphis Depay had just played his first Champions League game for United.
“The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible and beating them was even more special. Despite United at that time, it wasn’t the United of old but still it’s United.”
There were also some mouth-watering Champions League showdowns against Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Inter.
There was also a blockbuster clash against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in 2018-19.
“If I look back at it now, it was really special. But at the moment, of course you know it’s a special game, but you just focus on the match and try to get a result,” Hendrix said.
“Despite losing 4-0, I really enjoyed that game and the atmosphere. It was a special moment in my career.”
Now, Hendrix has brought his title-winning pedigree and Champions League experience to the Wanderers and Australia.
After two years in Russia with Spartak Moscow and a brief loan stint back in the Netherlands via Feyenoord, which included a run to the Europa Conference League final against Jose Mourinho’s Roma, he spent the 2022-23 season in German’s second tier with Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he came up against Socceroos pair Jackson Irvine and Connor Metcalfe.
After that, he felt the need for a change.
Playing in Australia had always been of interest. He also revealed his wife had spoken to Siem De Jong’s partner about life Down Under. The latter scored four goals in 17 games during his loan at Sydney FC in 2018-19.
“I was a free agent. I had several options but always in my career, something in Australia or Japan triggered me. Somewhere far away from home,” said Hendrix, who was a regular in the Netherlands’ youth teams before earning his solitary senior cap against Greece in 2016.
“Then the opportunity came that the club wanted me. Of course I had to think well about it because it’s not like it’s a few hours from home. It’s on the other side of the world. But I had good conversations with the director, with Eddie Bosnar and with the coach.
I looked a bit on the internet about the league, about the club and of course a lot of Dutch players played here. I asked them for some information.
“I was positively surprised even about the intensity and the level of the league because I think people in Europe they maybe have an opinion about the league and football in Australia. But it’s far away from home so I don’t think they have an idea of what’s going on here.”