The story of 'master scout' Piet de Visser who found his passion through travel

“I can’t scout the way he does," said Jose Mourinho.

That's some compliment coming from a manager who has managed at the top level for well over a decade and won Primeira Liga, La Liga, Serie A, Premier League and Champions League titles and been the first manager to spend an accumulative figure of £1bn on transfers.

Meet ‘master scout’ Piet de Visser, now 83, who discovered the likes of Neymar, Kevin De Bruyne, Ronaldo and David Luiz.


Forced to retire from playing earlier with a heart problem, de Visser became a successful manager before turning his hand to scouting in where he has made a real name for himself.

De Vissier developed a tactical code to analyse players from all over the world, scoring players' ability in five stages: their skill, their vision, their physique, their mentality and their character.

De Vissier maintains that the good players 'discover themselves' and that he scouts them, but acknowledges that his job is not as easy as some may think.

De Visser said: “All my life was football. The good players discover themselves. But I scout them.

“Scouting is a very difficult job. It was in me when I was a young boy.

But the player makes his career, not the scout.”

“I see the game. You have to concentrate on every action of the players.

“I see the mentality. That’s why I not only go to games, I go to training as well.

“I want to smell the grass. I see all the things that a player does well and does wrong.

“I love football and I will tell the world I love football.”


De Visser was instrumental in signing Brazilian defender Alex, forward Jefferson Farfán and goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes at PSV in what was his firs professional scouting role.

However, it was his love of travel which helped him discover a real passion for his work and a certain Ronaldo, the Brazilian version.

After retiring as a manager in 1992 De Visser headed to Saskatchewan in Canada to watch a youth tournament and there he laid eyes on a 15-year-old Brazilian - Ronaldo.

De Visser was so impressed with the striker, who eventually played for Brazil and became one of the world's greatest, that his passion for nurturing young talent became evident.


“Then I saw Ronaldo in St Brieux, in a small tournament. And by the movements of him – I got a new life. I said ‘hey’ I wanted to be a scout to find players like Ronaldo.

“He (Ronaldo) was phenomenal. He had the ball in the move and dribble in the move and he passed the player in full speed and full skill.”

Dutch talent-spotter De Visser also lays claims to sending former Man Utd striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to PSV.

Holland international Van Nistelrooy went on to score 35 goals in 70 caps for the Oranje and scored 249 goals in a 19-year career, but it was as a 17-year-old playing for Den Bosch that he caught De Visser's eye.

PSV, who had Ronaldo in attack, were not keen at first but when the Brazil star left for Barcelona, Van Nistelrooy was then able to step into the fold and he went on to score 62 goals in 67 games.

De Visser said: “I scouted him and I brought him to PSV. But at first, they did not want him.

He (Nistelrooy) did not know, but I thought he could be a very great player.

“We eventually took him to PSV and they sold him for a big amount of money to Manchester United.

"He played fantastically with David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roy Keane.

“He was always scoring goals, he was one of the greatest strikers.”

De Visser, who is a personal adviser to Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, also scouted Man City midfield schemer Kevin de Bruyne and rates him as almost a 10/10.

“The best players I ever scouted – Ronaldo, Neymar, great player, David Luiz and Kevin De Bruyne,” added De Visser.

“One of my best scoutings ever, Kevin De Bruyne, came from the youth to the first team. And from the first touch of the ball, I was in love with him.


“He only wants to win. His passing, his vision, left foot or right foot it doesn’t matter.

“He is almost a 10. And I never give a 10.”

Current Manchester United manager, Mourinho, has also acknowledged De Visser’s successful method of scouting.

Mourinho said: “I can’t scout the way he does.

“His desire to know everything about players in the four corners of the world is invaluable.”

Piet's story will feature in The History of Football global TV event, airing on History (excluding USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), from May 28th-10th June 2018.