Henk Grim is one of the most respected players in the history of Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie, more commonly known as NEC.
Hailing from the Groesbeek municipality of Nijmegen, Grim was an integral player at his hometown club during the 1980s thanks to his eye for a goal and partnership with fellow local Frans Janssen.
Between 1982 and 1987 the pair led the NEC frontline with aplomb, before Grim’s 29-goal haul in the 1986/87 season – the top in the Eerste Divisie – earned him a move to FC Den Bosch.
Spells at AZ Alkmaar and back at Nijmegen followed, before injury called time on his career aged just 30 in 1992.
Nearly two decades on, Grim now works full-time in the insurance and mortgage industry although he still has a major impact at the goings on at NEC.
Grim, in fact, is the driving force behind the most expensive signing in the club’s history – one that is now reaping huge rewards.
“The first impression was excellent,” said Grim, who also works for NEC as a scout. “He held the ball reasonably well, was strong in the air, physically strong and had an eye for a goal.
“I saw him a few more times found and continued to find him a good striker and find him still a good striker.
“Of course, many scouts and the coaching staff saw him. There was more interest, but ultimately he chose to go to NEC and from there to make the step up.”
The man in question is Björn Vleminckx.
The 25-year-old became NEC’s most expensive acquisition when he joined for 1.8million euros in June 2009, signing from Belgium outfit KV Mechelen.
After spells with Beveren and Oostende at the start of his career, Vleminckx really came to the fore at the Malinois with whom he netted an impressive 37 goals in 70 matches.
The Flemish striker netted 12 times in his final Belgian Jupiler League season with Mechelen, which led to interest from the likes of Karlsruhe, Vitesse Arnhem and Standard Liege.
Vleminckx, though, plumped for a move to NEC and his decision has paid dividend in spectacular fashion – this season, at least.
By his own admission the striker struggled in his first season at the McDOS Goffertstadion and managed to score just eight goals in 32 appearances.
Grim said Vleminckx had “some trouble” switching to the Dutch way of playing, which inevitably led to harsh comments due to his lofty price tag.
“Press, fans and others had expected more,” admitted Vleminckx. “Sometimes the criticism did hurt me, nobody likes to be by their own supporters booed. Sometimes I was left cursing the newspapers.”
This season, however, the striker has answered his critics in the best possible fashion.
Vleminckx has been the outstanding star of the Eredivisie, plundering 13 goals – including three hat-tricks – in 18 appearances to lead the Dutch top-flight’s scoring chart.
Despite vying with the likes of Luis Suarez, Mounir el Hamdaoui and Jonathan Reis, the Belgian has undoubtedly been the best striker this season and has almost single-handedly kept NEC out of a relegation battle, with the side lying 11th in the 18-team Eredivisie.
His stocky build coupled with ability in front of goal and combative nature has also led to comparisons with former Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt
“In terms of fighting spirit they seem quite similar,” said Grim. “And not just in terms of playing style, but also their appearance.
“I think Kuyt is playing at a slightly higher level to be comparison. On the other hand, Kuyt also started in the Eredivisie at a similar-sized club in FC Utrecht.”
Kuyt has since gone onto success with Feyenoord, Liverpool and the Dutch national side, something that Vleminckx will be looking to replicate.
Vleminckx has already secured international recognition – making his Belgium debut last year – and has attracted interest from a hoard of clubs across Europe, most notably Club Brugge in his homeland.
For the time being, though, the striker insists is focused on success with NEC; news that will please the club no end and may help propel them into Europe.