A mercurial striker who has plied his trade in the lower leagues of his homeland and in England, the Eindhoven native was at Scunthorpe United before deciding to have a crack at Scottish football.
It was at Glandford Park where the locals nicknamed him the “Budget Bergkamp”, due to his languid style reminding them of the great former Arsenal, Ajax and Netherlands forward Dennis Bergkamp. Under then-manager Graham Alexander who is now his boss at Motherwell, Van Veen played some of the best football of his career. His relationship with Alexander is so strong that he turned down offers from more “tropical” destinations to move north, and he is already repaying his boss for that faith, scoring in Motherwell’s first league match, a 3-2 defeat against Hibs, and making a nuisance of himself with his hold-up play and intelligent movement.
"I had a lot of opportunities this summer, a lot in England and in a few tropical places as well,” said Van Veen on his move to Motherwell. “There were clubs in Azerbaijan and Thailand. They didn't really interest me at all – I still want to play in front of big crowds. Sunday's game was on television and that's something I want to do. I'm still ambitious and I want people to watch me. If I go somewhere far away nobody is going to be seeing me. So when the gaffer rang me, because of the connection we had from before, and because Motherwell is a very good club in the Scottish Premiership, I was very interested to come over.
"I know the gaffer from my time at Scunthorpe. He's very demanding, very clear about what he wants. He knows what to expect from me. He just wants hard work – for the team to get back in their shape and press from there. All the lads understand what he wants and I think the fans could see on Sunday, even though we lost, that's the style we're going to play this season.
Alexander labelled Van Veen’s performance “unplayable”. Did it feel that way for him? “Sometimes, yes. I felt as though I had the Hibs centre-backs in my pocket a bit, just playing around with them. I hope I can do that a lot more, that I can cause defenders a lot more trouble. They don't really know who I am. I was quite happy with the performance but I'd rather have had the win.”
And what of the nickname? Van Veen admits Bergkamp was an idol of his. “It's a good name to have but you need to keep your feet on the ground,” he added. “You can't be one of those who is the Budget Bergkamp one week then the next you don't show up. For me now, I have to maintain the level of performance, work hard, stay fit.
"When I was younger I used to watch Henry and Bergkamp all the time at Arsenal. Bergkamp is one of those players I always looked up to, like Van Nistelrooy also. I’m nowhere near the quality they had but if I have one percent of their quality I'm sure I will be fine.”