Mike te Wierik is raring to go as he prepares to finally get his Derby County career up and running.
The 28-year-old defender joined Derby on a three-year contract last month following the expiry of his contract at FC Groningen in Holland.
Te Wierik penned a pre-contract agreement with the Rams back in February to arrive as a free agent at the beginning of July.
He was due to conclude the 2019/20 season with FC Groningen, but the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent abandonment of the Eredivisie campaign brought a premature end to his time at the Hitachi Capital Mobility Stadion.
Te Wierik linked up with the Rams’ squad in July, although he was not eligible to play matches, and was able to get a head-start in terms of getting to know his team-mates and Derby’s set-up.
Speaking to RamsTV last month, te Wierik said: “It feels really good to be here.
“I have been around for five or six weeks and it has been nice to train and get used to the guys and how we want to play.
“It has been good for me, although it has been strange that I have not been able to play games.”
Te Wierik began his career with Heracles Almelo and he made over 160 appearances over the course of seven seasons.
He moved to FC Groningen in the summer of 2017 and appeared for the club just shy of 100 times before his contract came to an end.
The defender, who made more than 200 appearances in the Eredivisie, also has international honours for his country at Under-20 and Under-21 level.
He said: “I am a centre-back that can play at right-back, which was mainly in the early part of my career and for the Holland Under-21s.
“My preferred position is centre-back; I like to build up from the back. I am a defender, that is my job, and I like to make tackles and things like that.”
Te Weirik says playing in England provided him with an opportunity he could not pass by.
After a successful spell at FC Groningen, he was keen to test himself in a new country.
When his fellow countryman and Derby boss Phillip Cocu came calling, he didn’t have to think twice.
“My former club, Groningen, tried to extend my contract for three more years but I thought about what I wanted,” he said.
“For me, it is a dream to play in England. When people talk about football, everyone talks about England.
“I could have left Groningen in the winter break, but they didn’t let me go so we tried to get things arranged for the future as quick as possible. We had everything sorted to come to Derby at the start of February for next season.
“I am really happy. I think now is a good moment to come to play in England.”
Cocu is highly regarded in Holland after racking up over 100 caps for his country and enjoying a decorated playing career.
As a manager, he guided PSV Eindhoven to three Eredivisie titles during a trophy-laden spell between 2013 and 2018.
Te Wierik says Cocu was a big reason behind his decision to move to Derby.
“The manager was, of course, a big reason,” he said. “I can speak fairly well in English but I can also speak to him in Dutch, which is easier for me!
“I had a good conversation with him about joining and how he wants Derby to play, which looks really good.
“In Holland, all the teams want to play football and play out from the back – even at the bottom of the table - so it is something I understand.”
He added: “It was important that the manager wanted me. The whole feeling of the club was really good and that was the most important thing.”
Te Wierik, and the rest of Derby’s squad, will report back for pre-season training ahead of the 2020/21 season later this month and the defender will be in line to make his competitive debut in a Rams shirt at the beginning of the campaign in mid-September.