Wouter Dronkers 2500 HH

From goalkeeper to astronaut or neurosurgeon

Career Transition Player story

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Wouter Dronkers 2500 HH
Even as a teenage professional, Dutch goalkeeper Wouter Dronkers decided that he wanted to prepare for his future by studying. The 27-year-old has since graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, taken part in a medical research program at Harvard University, and is now studying medicine at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

“I would like to be a neurosurgeon…or an astronaut!”, he says. And he certainly has every chance of becoming a neurosurgeon after many years of successfully combining his studies with playing for FC Twente and Vitesse.

Training twice a day made it difficult to attend lectures, but he was able to watch them online. And the university was very flexible in allowing him to switch groups for practical classes. He also took his books with him on the team bus. “The older players would say ‘Don’t interrupt the doctor, he’s busy saving future lives,’ he remembers.

“If you want to find out about stuff just Google it and dare to step out of that comfort zone”

— by Wouter Dronkers


His advice for other professional footballers is clear: “Plan ahead at least one year before something big happens in your life: before your contract ends, for example. Clubs only think about this season, maybe next season, but not the next 10 years of your career.”

However, he understands that his kind of study is not for everyone. “You don’t have to go to university. You could do a short course, learn Spanish or whatever, but do something. And If you want to find out about stuff just Google it and dare to step out of that comfort zone.”

Wouter Dronkers 1100


When his contract at Vitesse was coming to an end, he received a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at Harvard in the USA.. For the first time in his life he truly chose study over football, but he still managed to play for Boston City FC.

“At Harvard, I did some projects on craniofacial surgery in children. I am now continuing my medical degree and internships in the Netherlands until 2021. Besides that, I’m studying for an extra degree in biomedical ethics and psychology.”

And he continues to dream of flying around the universe instead of the penalty box. “The chances of being an astronaut are small but it's a goal. Even becoming a neurosurgeon is not guaranteed so I have to earn my stripes and go for it.” 


Top photo: Wouter Dronkers at FC Twente in 2013, left goalkeeper wearing purple (Photo Hollandse Hoogte)