Daphne van Domselaar was among the least experienced players in the Netherlands squad when Euro 2022 kicked off earlier this month. Now, the 22-year-old stands to be remembered as one of the tournament’s breakout players after being thrown in at the deep end.
Van Domselaar could have been forgiven for not expecting to get on the pitch this summer, seeing her inclusion in the squad as primarily a learning experience for the future behind established international veteran and Oranje Leeuwinnen captain Sari van Veenendaal.
But when Van Veenendaal got injured 20 minutes into the first game against Sweden, Van Domselaar got her unexpected chance. It was sink or swim, but she swam, making a handful of good saves that contributed to an important point in a 1-1 draw.
A debutant with FC Twente at 17 and an Eredivisie title winner in 2019, 2021 and 2022, Van Domselaar is used to first-team football. But her international career only began earlier this year and a February friendly against Sweden was her sole senior appearance prior to two weeks ago.
Born on the outskirts of Amsterdam, she has a slight frame but is tall and athletic with a long reach. In the games since her sudden arrival against Sweden, the toughest possible start to the tournament, Van Domselaar has continued to grow in confidence.
Ahead of facing France in Saturday’s quarter-final, she agreed it will be ‘the most important game’ of her career so far when speaking to the media.
Van Domselaar insists that pressure is part of parcel of being a goalkeeper, but she tries to rise above it: “I don’t feel the pressure. Pressure is a goalkeeper thing…you’re under pressure to stop the ball…I know what I can do and what the team can do.”
Presented with the possibility that she could end up the hero on Saturday night if her team has been successful, Van Domselaar laughed it off, but added, “It’s nice to be important for the team.”
Netherlands coach Mark Parsons has every faith in his goalkeeper’s ability. The message he gave her when she was getting ready to go on against Sweden was to just focus on the next few minutes and not worry about the bigger picture or the game as a whole.
“Just do your thing and make it to half-time,” she recalled he said in that moment.
Overall, Parsons has been delighted with how Van Domselaar has made the successful transition into a starting goalkeeper at the highest level, not that he ever doubted her talent.
“She had some very good moments [against Sweden],” he said.
“Not surprised by the performance or quality, but excited by the impact because we have all seen the quality. We know our players very well,” he added.
“It’s the same with [Victoria] Pelova, [Esmee] Brugts, [Romee] Leuchter, [Kerstin] Casparij and Marisa [Olislagers]. You hope and dream when you make a sub that this is the impact.”