My uncle is a World Cup finalist and ex-EFL manager, now I leave him in TEARS as I make my own way in the Premier League


JAN PAUL VAN HECKE is dreaming of following in the footsteps of his World Cup finalist uncle.

The Brighton defender’s own flesh and blood Jan Poortvliet played in the 1978 final when Holland lost 3-1 to hosts Argentina in extra-time.

GettyJan Paul van Hecke is dreaming of making the Holland squad for the Euros[/caption]

His uncle Jan Poortvliet (left) played for Holland in the 1978 World Cup finalRex

Poortvliet later managed Southampton between 2008 and 2009Rex

Poortvliet, Southampton boss between 2008-09, was left in tears when he saw Van Hecke feature in the Brighton side that beat Ajax 2-0 in November’s Europa League clash in Amsterdam.

Van Hecke, 23, said: “My uncle is enjoying my journey, he played at the highest level. He said he is proud and he watches me every game.

“When I played against Ajax, winning away made him emotional, he was in tears.”

Holland boss Ronald Koeman was in the Ajax crowd watching uncapped Van Hecke ahead of this summer’s Euros.

Van Hecke has been on a meteoric rise from being loaned to Blackburn in 2020 to his key role in Brighton sealing Europa League football last term.

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Now he is licking his lips at the prospect of a spot at the Euros in Germany to make his uncle proud.

Competition for places at the Euros will be fierce though, with Van Hecke looking to prove he can hold his own with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Micky van de Ven and Sven Botman.

Van Hecke, capped eight times at Under-21 level, added: “My uncle tells me featuring at a major tournament is one of the best things.


“I hope I can prove to Koeman that I should be there.

“My uncle told me all the stories from the World Cup, he said they were robbed against Argentina!”

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