Having joined us from Dutch giants Ajax, central defender Jan would have seen first-hand their famous Academy set-up which has, for many years, produced some outstanding young talent.
Indeed, he moved to Amsterdam as a teenager and spent a couple of years in the Ajax youth teams before making his debut in the Dutch league in December, 2006.
During his two seasons at the Lane, the Belgian international has seen a number of our own Academy products emerge from the youth set-up to feature for our first team and he is delighted to see youngsters such as Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend plying their trade in the Premier League.
Harry Winks was the latest youngster to make his first team bow off the bench against Partizan Belgrade last week.
“I’m happy to see the young guys coming through because they are like the soul of the club,” Jan explained. “It’s very important for every club to have young talent progressing into the first team because, as much as anything, the supporters can identify with them.
“As well as Harry, Ryan and Andros, I’ve seen the likes of Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll come through, while quite often the young lads come and train with us and there is some great talent there.
“The important thing for them all though, is to make sure they take the opportunity should it ever come. Sometimes you need to be patient with young players, it doesn’t always happen straight away and they can take time to develop and thrive, but when they do make it, it’s great and I’m really happy to see it happening here.”