His first-team opportunities may have been limited at Manchester United, but Marnick Vermijl is convinced training with some of the best players in the world has helped improve him as a player.
After arriving from Belgian club Standard Liege in 2010, Vermijl played just two times for United. His final outing came in their 4-0 humbling at MK Dons in the Capital One Cup last August.
Although he made just a handful of appearances for United’s senior side, Vermijl insists he enjoyed rubbing shoulders with England internationals such as Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney. The talented right-back also worked alongside and picked up tips from Premier League legend Ryan Giggs.
Vermijl, who opted to join Sheffield Wednesday on transfer deadline day for an undisclosed fee, penning a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship outfit, admits he was a big admirer of Neville’s qualities.
“I always liked Gary when he was playing,” he told The Star. “I trained with him for two years. It was good.
“Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs also helped me. At the end, I saw Wayne Rooney in training and how he was training and how he would prepare for a game. The training was maybe more important for him than the games. That opened my eyes when I saw that.
“It was really good for me to train with the best players in the world. You can a lot from these people.
“It is not just the gifts that they have got. You see how hard they work and that they want to make themselves better. It was an eye opener to see how hard they work every single day.”
Is there any part of Vermijl that regrets leaving one of the biggest clubs in Europe?
“You can see it as a disappointment but I don’t view it like that,” he said. “I trained with the best players in the world.
“I have benefited from that. I have seen how they live and how they work before a game so that has really helped me.”
Having failed to force his way into United’s senior set-up, the 23-year-old spent the 2013/14 season on loan at Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, making 28 league starts, hitting three goals in the process.
“At Manchester United, you always have the ball and play to win,” he said. “You win most of the games.
“I think in the four years I was United we won the reserve league three times and three cups. We mostly won everything so it was good to go to Holland and see a totally different football world.
“We (NEC Nijmegen) were battling to stay in the league and always under pressure to get results so I think it benefited me.”
Speaking to the press corps yesterday, Vermijl confirmed there were a couple of Belgian teams who expressed an interest in his services before the transfer window shut. It is understood he was close to moving to Lokeren but the deal collapsed at the eleventh hour.
“There were a few teams in the running but Sheffield Wednesday is the complete package,” he said. “It didn’t work out at United but this is a good step in my career.
“I am at an age where I need to start playing week in week out and that is the most important thing for me.
“Wednesday is a massive club. It is a really good move for me and a big step up again.
“I just want to help get the club back into the Premier League. I think that is the aim but that is the same for most of the teams at this level.”
Vermijl hopes playing regularly for Wednesday will lead to international recognition in the future. He was named on the standby list for Belgium’s World Cup squad last summer.
“It wasn’t my main aim to go to the World Cup but, of course, it is great when you have been linked to ait especially with the Golden Generation we (Belgium) have got at the moment,” said Vermijl, who has represented Belgium at every level from Under 17s to Under 21s,
“I moved to Holland on loan just so that they (the selectors) would see me a bit more. I didn’t get into the squad but I moved on and just played and trained hard. Hopefully I can get into the squad now.”
Vermijl, who can operate anywhere across the backline, is adamant his top priority is to resurrect Wednesday’s faltering play-off tilt.
He admitted: “We need to go on a good run. It is a difficult league. You never know what can happen. You can gain points very quickly.”
Vermijl made his Wednesday debut in the 1-1 draw with Cardiff City at Hillsborough last weekend.
“The pitch was not the best but you saw the group and they stuck together to try and get the result,” he said. “We didn’t get the win but a draw is never bad. We could have won the game with the chances we had but I think we were unlucky.”