Piet de Visser: The Master Scout Who Discovered Ronaldo, Neymar And De Bruyne
Piet de Visser won't exactly be a familiar face for most football fans but boy has he unearthed some gems in his time working in the game.
Now 84, the Dutchman has been around for absolute yonkies, managing a whole host of clubs in his native country and winning many titles.
But it was in scouting where he endured the most success, with Jose Mourinho, undoubtedly one of the greatest managers in football history, paying him the ultimate compliment.
"I can't scout the way he does," Mourinho said of de Visser and his ability to find stars.
"His desire to know everything about players in the four corners of the world is invaluable."
De Visser, recipient of the Rinus Michels award in 2005, has mainly worked with PSV and Chelsea and is responsible for scouting some of the most gifted and successful footballers in history.
His track record includes the below players, while Neymar and Ronaldinho have also been discovered by him.
Piet de Visser turns 84 today!
PSV & Chelsea legendary superscout who discovered players like Romário, Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Heurelho Gomes, David Luiz, Jefferson Farfán, Oscar, Alex, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois & Balazs Dzsudzsák. pic.twitter.com/I0Yl4DvyEc
- FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) September 23, 2018
To many, De Visser is the greatest scout in the business and he has his own special code that is the key to how he assesses players.
If you looked at his notepad after he'd been scribbling stuff down at games, it would probably just look like a load if gibberish. But it's so much more than that - and de Visser also judges them on their mentality and character by getting to know their family.
"I smell the talents - I see all the things the players do well and do wrong," he revealed in an interview as part of The History of Football.
"With the players I wanted, I put codes, special codes. Nobody can understand it.
"I see the mentality, that's why I not only go to games, I go to training then I go to the family - if it's a good family then I get the character of the boy."
The scouting expert actually got into the craft when heart problems caused him to call it a day in management. He stumbled across a certain Ronaldo Nazario and the rest is history.
"I was managing Willem II, I got a problem with my heart; my father had it," he explained. So I quit in this club and I went travelling, then I saw Ronaldo.
"I saw Ronaldo in St Brieux, in a small tournament,".
"And by the movements of him - I got a new life. I said 'hey' I wanted to be a scout to find players like Ronaldo.
"He [Ronaldo] was phenomenal. He had the ball in the move and dribble in the move and he passed the player in full speed and full skill."
De Visser also uncovered another Brazilian baller years on, watching Neymar, now the world's most expensive player, as a 15-year old.
He said the goals he was scoring were "unbelievable" but when it comes to his best scoutings, Manchester City and Belgium midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne is right at the top of the list.
"One of my best scoutings ever, Kevin De Bruyne, came from the youth to the first team. And from the first touch of the ball, I was in love with him.
"He only wants to win. His passing, his vision, left foot or right foot it doesn't matter. He is almost a 10. And I never give a 10."
De Visser has had all sorts of health problems but his undying love football, and finding the next big talents, means he simply can't give it up. Even though he's getting on, you'll still find him at games all over the world - jotting down notes as he watches intently.
"My doctor told me, 'you are 83, please don't travel anymore'. No, you don't know Piet de Visser. I love football."