Representative image of a football
Representative image of a football. Pixabay: jarmoluk

A former Premier League midfielder was captured punching a rival fan on Sunday. Steven Berghuis, a former Watford midfielder, currently plays for Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie. The incident took place after Ajax lost 3-1 to FC Twente, which is one of Berghuis' former teams.

A video went viral on social media, in which Berghuis was seen hitting someone who appears to be a Twente supporter in front of the Ajax team bus.

A Fan racially abuses Berghuis' teammate

After Ajax lost 3-1 on Sunday, Berghuis was waiting by the team bus outside the De Grolsch Veste, the home ground of FC Twente, where he came across a group of Twente fans. The former Watford midfielder was then angered by someone in the crowd, and he was seen leaning over the barriers before hurling the punch.

An official then interfered and controlled the situation before it escalated further, but Berghuis continued to exchange heated words with the individual. Berghuis lashed out because the fan reportedly made "racist" comments to his Ajax teammate Brian Brobbey, reported Dutch media outlet Algemeen Dagblad.

However, the 31-year-old footballer later apologised over the incident after the clip went viral on social media, saying: "I regret my actions, I should not have done this."

"After every away game, we get a lot of threats thrown at us at the bus while we take time out to sign autographs for fans. I'm used to it by now, but people think they can just shout anything. My reaction doesn't solve anything, I get that. It's not good, I have an exemplary role as a player of Ajax," Berghuis added in the statement.

Ajax's miserable season

With 69 points from 34 league games, Ajax finished third in the Eredivisie table, their worst finish in the league in 14 years. As a result, Ajax missed out on UEFA Champions League as well. A third-place finish in Eredivisie means Ajax still have a chance at European football next season, but they'll have to play the Europa League qualifiers.

In the middle of the 2022-23 season, Ajax sacked manager Alfred Schreuder - who succeeded Manchester United's Erik ten Hag - in February. Ajax replaced Schreuder with ex-Everton centre-back John Heitinga on an interim basis. Heitinga was handed the role until the end of the season.

While Ajax had a miserable run in the 2022-23 campaign, Berghuis was one of their standout performers throughout the season. The Dutch midfielder netted 11 goals and 11 assists in 42 appearances for Ajax in all competitions.

Berghuis's career highlights

Berghuis came through the youth system at FC Twente, following spells with the youth clubs of local amateur club WSV Apeldoorn, then Eerste Divisie side Go Ahead Eagles.

The Dutch footballer made his senior debut at FC Twente, where he managed to play in just 16 competitive games before moving on. In 2015, Watford signed Berghuis under Quique Sanchez Flores as part of a huge summer of spending. However, he was offloaded after just one season, 11 games and no goals.

That run with Watford remains Berghuis' only Premier League association so far. The attacking midfielder then returned to Eredivisie in 2016-17 by taking up a loan offer from Feyenoord before becoming a permanent signing the subsequent campaign. He won the league title in his maiden season at Feyenoord, where he contributed seven goals in 30 matches.

The Dutch international joined Ajax from Feyenoord ahead of the 2021-22 season. This move caused quite a controversy in the country because of the intense rivalry between the two clubs.

Repeating the feat, Berghuis clinched the league title at Ajax in his debut season with the club. The midfielder did play a key role in his side's Eredivisie victory, scoring eight goals and assisting another 11 in 33 matches.