The 52-year-old was assistant to the Jordan national football team until recently.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters announced the appointment of Stephan van der Heyden as their assistant coach on Sunday. van der Heyden replaces Patrick Van Kets, who left the club in October due to personal reasons.

A former midfielder, Stephan van der Heyden plied his trade as a player at numerous clubs including Waasland-Beveren, Club Brugge, Beerschot AC and Royal Cappellen FC in Belgium, Roda JC in Netherlands, South Melbourne FC in Australia and LOSC Lille in France. He has also made a handful of appearances for the Belgian national teams in the junior and senior levels.

Following his retirement in 2003, he returned to the sport as a coach. The Belgian began his coaching career at Sporting Lokeren before returning to former club Club Brugge. At Brugge, he began as part of their scouting team. In June 2013, he became the club’s assistant coach and continued with them for four years.

In 2017, the 52-year-old shifted base to Macedonian club FK Vardar Skopje to take on the role of assistant coach once again. The following year, he started working with Jordan national team head coach Vital Borkelmans as his deputy. Incidentally, Jordan faced India in an international friendly on November 11, 2018. The Blue Tigers lost 2-1, and India’s only goal was scored by Nishu Kumar who will now work with the Belgian tactician at Kerala Blasters.

Khel Now understands that Patrick Van Kets, the former assistant coach left the club due to an illness. Initially it was expected that he will return to the Yellow Army. But now, his replacement has been signed and it looks like Van Kets will not be returning.

“Stephan van der Heyden, the new assistant coach has not arrived in India yet. The club are actively working on completing his visa and travel processes. They are keen to have him with the rest of their ISL squad in Goa as soon as possible,” a top official informed Khel Now.

Kerala Blasters’ pre-season preparations

With just five days left until ISL 2021-22 begins, Kerala Blasters are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the campaign. The club have played pre-season friendlies with the likes of Jamshedpur FC, Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC, and are among the teams which started their pre-season camp the earliest.

Led by head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and his deputies Stephan van der Heyden, Ishfaq Ahmed, Werner Martens and Slaven Progovecki — the Kochi-based club are eager to bury the demons of a disappointing 10th-spot finish from the last season.

Alvaro Vazquez, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Chencho Gyeltshen, Adrian Luna, Marko Leskovic and Enes Sipovic complete the Yellow Army’s foreign contingent. Other notable names in the squad include Sahal Abdul Samad, Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Harmanjot Khabra, Ayush Adhikari and Sandeep Singh.

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