The name Piet de Visser is an unfamiliar one to many football fans.
But his influence on the game in the last 30 years is undeniable.
He managed several clubs, mostly Dutch, during the 1970s/80s, but is admired more for his skills in another field.
The Dutchman is widely regarded as the greatest scout of all time.
“I see all the things a player does well, and what they do wrong.”
De Visser’s notepad reads like alien scripture.
The 84-year-old scout has developed his own ‘code’ during his career, meaning his jottings appear incomprehensible to you and I.
But one thing’s for sure, the code works.
De Visser ranks players on skill, vision, physique, mentality and character.
He has honed and refined this criteria ever since he discovered his first ever player — Ronaldo.
De Visser spotted O Fenomeno during a trip to Brazil and was influential in the Brazilian legend’s eventual transfer to PSV.
“I saw Ronaldo in St Brieux, in a small tournament,” he told The History of Football.
“And by the movements of him – I got a new life. I wanted to be a scout to find players like Ronaldo.
“He 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.”
PSV also recruited the likes of Alex, Jefferson Farfan and Ruud van Nistelrooy based on De Visser’s recommendation.
More recently, De Visser is responsible for bringing the world’s attention to David Luiz and Neymar.
The PSG forward was scouted by De Visser when he was just 15-years-old and was immediately tipped for superstardom.
De Visser is also partly responsible for Chelsea’s most successful period.
He began working for Roman Abramovich soon after the Russian billionaire bought the Blues and has advised him on a number of signings, including Arjen Robben, Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne.
“One of my best scoutings ever, Kevin De Bruyne,” he said.
“From the first touch of the ball, I was in love with him.
“His passing, his vision, left foot or right foot it doesn’t matter.
“He is almost a 10. And I never give a 10.”
Though Jose Mourinho did not share the same undying appreciation for De Bruyne, the Portuguese coach has great respect for De Visser.
“I can’t scout the way he does,” Mourinho said.
“His desire to know everything about players in the four corners of the world is invaluable.”
“The good players discover themselves,” De Visser says, “but I try to bring them to the right club.”
A dedicated student of the game, the Dutch scout’s ability to spot potential is unmatched in his field.
And at 84-years-old, he’s not yet ready to retire.
“I love football and I will tell the world I love football.”
As long as there are superstars left to cherry-pick, De Visser will be sat in the stands with his notepad.
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