Midfielder set to begin two-year contract at Madejski StadiumWe are delighted to welcome Joey van den Berg as our second summer arrival, as he has penned a two-year deal to join Reading.
Like compatriot Danzell Gravenberch, who agreed a move to Madejski Stadium last month, Dutchman Van den Berg will officially become a Royal at the start of July when the registration window opens.
The 30-year-old, who departs Eredivisie club sc Heerenveen on a free transfer this summer, joins the rest of the Reading squad on the training ground on Wednesday in preparation for our 2016/17 campaign; our first pre-season fixture falls on Saturday 9th July at Boreham Wood.
Reading manager Jaap Stam said: “I’m very happy that we are signing Joey – I believe that he is the type of player we need in the squad. He is a left-footed midfielder but he is also capable of playing in defence as a centre-back or a left-back, as well as anywhere in the midfield.
“The reasons I wanted to bring him to Reading were that he is physically strong enough for the Championship, and he has character in the sense that he has a winner’s mentality. Joey tries to get the most from his teammates and he is technically very strong. He reads the play well, he has a lot of stamina – he has a lot of the right attributes to do well in this league.
“He came back into professional football when I was at PEC Zwolle and immediately he was one of the most important players in the squad. He is a winner, and I think to do well in this league you need players who have that mentality.”
Born in Nijeveen in the north of the Netherlands, Van den Berg’s playing career also began with Heerenveen, just 20 miles away. Graduating from the Friesian side’s youth setup and debuting as a teenager, the combative midfielder made two appearances for the club before opting to move to FC Omniworld in 2005.
In the years that followed Van den Berg then went on to represent Meppeler Sport Club, Go Ahead Eagles and MVV Alcides, before joining PEC Zwolle in time for the 2010/11 campaign. It was here that he first linked up with Jaap Stam – in 2011 our new gaffer took the assistant manager’s post at the club where his professional playing career had begun 19 years earlier.
Van den Berg narrowly missed out on promotion to the Dutch top-flight in his first season at Zwolle. However with Stam on board for the 2011/12 campaign, the midfielder chipped in with seven goals as together they steamrollered their way to the league title – seven points clear of their nearest rivals – and securing a place in the Eredivisie for 2012/13.
His performances in his first season as a regular in the top flight meant that he wasn’t without his suitors – no less than his former club Heerenveen. Van den Berg scored from the spot against his former side in November, and then two months later he would play his final game for Zwolle against them. He helped his side to a 1-1 draw, helping to maintain their position above Heerenveen in the league table – and less than a week later Van den Berg made a mid-season transfer back to his boyhood club.
They sat just four points clear of the relegation spots when he joined, but his contribution in the new year hoisted the Friesians up to 8th in the league table. And over the next three full seasons at Heerenveen, he took his total of appearances with the club to 111 during his second stint – including a 5th-placed league finish in 2013/14. Van den Berg contributed eight goals during that time, amongst which was a late winner at De Kuip against Feyenoord.
And now he rejoins his former coach Jaap Stam as we continue to build for the new season!