At 24-year-old Gerard Wiekens had lived 21 years in his native village Oude Pekela and spent 3 years in Groningen. When after a half year he found out that he could not handle his study and soccer at the same time he stayed for 2 more years in the 'City'. After that he returned to his old place. Having played nine seasons he spent at " De Langeleegte" , from which he played seven seasons in the first squad, Wiekens wanted to move. Heerenveen was interested to get him, but Wiekens chose for the adventure and the money of Manchester City. City paid more than one million guilders for him.
According to Wiekens the transfer came two years to late. He has learnt enough at Veendam and came to a hold in his development. But there was no way to get out sooner. Even some appearances for the Dutch youth team could not get him out. "When you play in the highest division, the clubs know you. But I always played in the fist division. Normally after you played for the Dutch youth team you'll gain a place in the highest division. But this never happened. I don't know what was going on, but the interest was not concrete. Only FC Groningen showed some interest each year. That begun when I was playing in the youth. Every year it was like: Groningen has got interest, but I suppose that the tranfer amount was to high for Groningen. And the longer they waited, the more I had to cost.'
The statistics show that Gerard Wiekens isn't just some defender from the first division In the season 1995/96 he finished at the top of the VI-competition. Like Wiekens predicted the number one position in the VVCS gala was not for him. "Michel van Oostrum (Striker from Emmen) is the best known. You are chosen by players from both the highest and the fist division. The majority of the players in the fist division know who I am, but this is not the same with the players in the highest division. I was very happy that I was nominated, still it didn't suprise me. I'm one of the best at Veendam and last year I was the number one of the VI competition."
When Wiekens went to Manchester to sort out the details of his contract he has put his jeans on instead of wearing a fancy suit. `I am who I am and I stay myself, no matter what happens. I'm a quiet person and a nice one, I think. I can't become realy angry about somebody. I have to let them hear more of me. If I had done that, maybe I wouldn't have stayed for such a long time at Veendam. Like:"here I am, and look how good I am. But that's not me. I never thought about why I didn't get more offers. I enjoyed playing at Veendam and this was very important to me. Still, I wanted to play higher, but I didn't get the chance."
It looked like nobody was waiting for a player who was captain of Veendam when he was 20 years old. Wiekens doesn't look back in anger at the clubs in the highest division. "I won't say that they were sleeping. But when Manchester City did me an offer and became serious, suddenly other clubs that never showed any interest came to me. I find that strange. If they came earlier, I could have played for one of them. Maybe they have now woken up. You shouldn't forget that two years ago I signed a three year contract. So they had to pay much money if they wanted me. That may have been the problem. My contract has stopped me. But I have signed my contract before the Bosman-affair, so I didn't think about that. Moreover Veendam wouldn't cooperate. They asked a lot of money for me. On one hand it's nice to see the clubt rying to keep me, at the other side it'sa pity. It's great when a club is satisfied about you, but you have to think about yourself as well"'
Wiekens has sacrificed a lot for the sake of the club. For the team he changed his position from defensive midfielder to sweeper, because he was building better than Piet Wiersma. "Defensive midfielder I find a much better position. You've got a lot of possession. When you are a sweeper, you get the ball many times from the goalkeeper, play it to the midfielders, and then it is over. I have an unsatisfied feeling about it. You know you can do more, but you're not allowed to do that. Before the winter break I was placed before the defense, but ever since the homematch against RBC I'm a sweeper again. I don't know how it will be the next matches. Maybe for the team it's better that I move back again. The target stays the playoffsfor our team. And if I have to go back in the defense I will do so."
The giant step forward will be made in July, when Wiekens will join the team of manager Frank Clark. It will be the qeustion if he will be there, because Manchester City has already had four managers this season. Clark is the fifth, and he wants to use Wiekens as an defensive midfielder. `He mentioned that, but further we didn't talked about the tactics. Tactically I'm very good. Choosing the right position is very important. Most defenders are defensively good, but building a little less. I can see where the ball has got to go. I have got that, I think, better than other players. I'm more a soccerplayer than a normal defender."
Manager Clark, who was very positive about Wiekens' qualities, views the East-Groninger even as a future international. In the contract this was discussed. "When I will be invited for the Dutch national team, I'll receive a bonus. I know it's difficult to get there, but it's nice if they think about you like that. Clark said that he saw me playing for the Dutch youth team two years ago. But still it's strange that they sign a defender from Veendam, isn't it? How do they come up with that?
Wiekens is very happy about his new club. He doesn't know much about Manchester City yet. From the team he only knows Kinkladze and Rosler. "I know that it's a team that's always played in the Premier League, but they were relegated last year. They are trying to get back as soon as possible, but this season it isn't going very well. I don't know much about the First Division either. We do have BBC in Oude Pekela, but the First division isn't on very much. The Premier League of course is, and I have to say that I have watched it many time the last couple of weeks, because I wanted to know soem more about the english type of playing"'
"My popularity in the Netherlands will not grow, but I think that's not a problem. I expect to succeed over there, and that I might move to another club later. Or with City to the Premier League, that would also be great. I could have signed a contract for ten years at Veendam. Just in your own surrounding, you know what you've got. With some of the boys from Veendam I've played eight, nine years with. We are good friends. I will miss them, but I have to go on. An adventure is also great. You should see something of the world, shouldn't you?"
May 15th 2004: Gerard receives standing ovation and silver salver at last game of season against Everton. Is released on Bosman free transfer after 195 league and cup starts, 18 substitute appearances and 10 goals for the Blues. If ever there was a prize awarded to the professionals' professional, this unfussy, unflashy Dutchman would be in there fighting for a medal every time.