Andries Noppert, a Dutch goalkeeper, considered giving up football two years ago because his career was stagnant. He is currently getting ready to play Argentina and Lionel Messi in a World Cup quarterfinal.

As recently as 2020, Noppert had only made a few professional appearances and was a backup in the Dutch second division. He thought about quitting to join the police.

He made the decision to stick with it, and after joining Go Ahead Eagles, his career took off. Later, Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands coach, became interested in him after he moved to Heerenveen.

The 28-year-old, who only made his international debut in the Dutch team’s tournament opener against Senegal, is now the Dutch’s top choice at the World Cup in Qatar.

He will face Argentina in the quarterfinal on Friday, and he is unfazed by the thought of taking on Messi from the spot.

Noppert said on Wednesday, “It depends on the moment — he can also miss, and we’ve seen it in games in this tournament.

“He is a human, just like the rest of us. He is undoubtedly talented, but I can definitely catch penalties.”

Noppert has participated in every game the Netherlands has played thus far in Qatar, giving up just two goals as they advanced to the quarterfinals.

At 6 feet 8 inches (203 cm), he is the tallest player in the competition and is praised for his shot-stopping skills and command of his penalty area.

Despite having come so far in such a short time, his inclusion in the team still makes him smile in awe.

He said, “I think you dream about going to the World Cup when you are a little guy.”

As you can tell from my career, I put the dream on hold because I believe it is no longer feasible. However, I continue to fight and push myself, and I believe that there is only one coach who can bring me here—and that coach is ours.

Longtime Dutch starter Jasper Cillessen was unexpectedly left out of Van Gaal’s World Cup roster.

Instead, he chose Noppert, Justin Bijlow of Feyenoord, and Remko Pasveer of Ajax—a trio with just eight combined caps prior to the start of the tournament.

When Van Gaal inserted the uncapped Noppert into the starting lineup, he was still anticipated to travel as a backup. Since then, he has not looked back.

Every game is the same for me because I always try to catch the ball in the nets, said Noppert.

“I believe I have the best defense in front of me, so I won’t be concerned about the match we play. We want to take home the trophy.”

Van Gaal receives high praise from Noppert, who claims that he “gives the players on the bench a good feeling.”

He has spent the majority of his career playing as a backup at clubs like NAC Breda, Foggia, and Dordrecht, so he is familiar with what it’s like to be removed from the action.

He is now in the spotlight as the Netherlands attempts to win the World Cup for the first time, and he is handling the situation well.

It’s not pressure for me, he declared. “I only have one goal in mind, and that is to win the World Cup. The fact that we haven’t done so yet doesn’t put any pressure on me. The most crucial factor is that I don’t experience increased pressure. In my opinion, no. I’m not feeling it.”