On May 25, 2001, NAC talent Ferry van Vliet becomes involved in a one-sided accident. The just 21-year-old footballer died together with his girlfriend from the consequences of that accident. A black page in NAC history has been written.
The next game of the people of Breda will visit De Graafschap on May 31. It is the last day of the Premier League and the interests are particularly high for De Graafschap. The Super Farmers must get at least a point to avoid relegation. However, those sporting interests disappear like snow when they see the NAC players on the field.
“There was a team that was deep in the soul, that chopped in,” says Stefan Postma, then goalkeeper of De Graafschap back in the Brabants Dagblad. “We lived in a daze to that game. Our assignment was clear: get a point. But when we saw those NAC players with tears in their eyes, the feeling that we had to perform was gone in one fell swoop. “
For NAC, the game was completely unimportant. The most important thing was to honor their teammate in a beautiful way. They did this in a way that did not leave anyone cold, Postma remembers. “NAC kicked off with ten players. We shot the ball directly over the side line. Earnest Stewart came in as eleventh man within the lines, as it were as a replacement for Van Vliet. That moment touched me deeply and has always stayed with me.”
The game eventually ends in 1-1 and De Graafschap therefore remains in the premier league. However, it never becomes a party at De Vijverberg that day. Players fall into each other’s crying arms after the last whistle and then the supporters of De Graafschap decide to do something wonderful. They enter the field and walk en masse to the branch. For the trade with hundreds of crying NAC fans they sing You’ll never walk alone. A friendship is born forever.
Within the NAC selection, Orlando Engelaar was very close to Van Vliet. He took the deceased football player to every game after the accident with a special keepsake .. “I have talked about Ferry so many times with Orlando. Even when we met again at FC Twente. Orlando at one point showed me that he Ferry’s shoes had been in the bottom of his football bag. He had taken them all along. I immediately recognized them: Adidas Copa Mundial, “said former teammate Alfred Schreuder.
The memory of Van Vliet, who died much too early, will last forever. The matches between De Graafschap and NAC are forever ‘his’ matches. Before and after, the fans toast side by side on the much too short life of a great talent. He remains in their hearts forever.