Bernio Verkhagen

As a player, he is nobody.” The Dutch football player has become the biggest swindler in the sport. How he signed contracts, not knowing how to play: Football: Sport.

The story of the Dutchman Bernio Verhagen is a ready-made script for an action-packed film. The football player, as he called himself, signed contracts with professional clubs, although he did not know how to play. How a simple Dutch guy managed to become, perhaps, the main swindler of modern sports – in the material of

'As a player he is nobody' The Dutch footballer has become the sport's biggest swindler. How did he sign contracts without knowing how to play?

Bernio Verkhagen

The story of the Dutchman Bernio Verhagen is a ready-made script for an action-packed film. The football player, as he called himself, changed professional clubs one after another, although he did not know how to play at all. When the coaches and managers realized that they had become victims of a fraudster, the Dutchman immediately disappeared. Moreover, with him, all references to Verhagen disappeared from the documentation of the clubs. As a result, the Dutchman still ended up in prison, but purely by accident: he was not handed over by football managers, but by prostitutes. How a simple guy managed to become, perhaps, the main swindler of modern sports – figured it out.

The string of oddities surrounding Verhagen's last name was first pieced together by Sam van Raalte, editor-in-chief of Dutch Vice Sport, in 2019. In the summer of 2020, The Athletic published the full story. The article is titled Ghost: Four Clubs, Three Continents in Nine Months. Zero matches played.

I just wanted to know what happened to him

It all started in June 2019 when van Raalte was browsing Transfermarkt. His attention was attracted by the transitions of little-known Dutch footballers to clubs around the world – the journalist was looking for heroes for an interview. Most of these players were unremarkable, but one of them stood out. It was 25-year-old winger Bernio Verhagen, who was signed by the tiny Dynamo-Avto club in February. By the beginning of the summer, however, the contract had already been terminated.

Bernio Verkhagen

Photo: Cape Town City F.C.

The first interesting fact is that Dynamo-Avto is based in Transnistria, an unrecognized state that UN member states consider part of Moldova. The second is that, according to the site, Verhagen has not held a single official match before. “Apparently, he was an amateur player who, for some reason, went to this obscure part of the world. I just wanted to know what happened to him,” admitted van Raalte.

Soon the journalist found out that Bernio was born in Suriname, but spent most of his life in the Dutch city of Tilburg, which is located near the border with Belgium. His only experience in football by the age of 25 was a few months in the youth academy of Willem II (this club is based in Tilburg and plays in Eridivisi, the top division of the national championship) and two years in amateur teams.“As a player, he was just a nobody, but that made the idea of ​​his Moldavian adventure all the more enticing,” van Raalte wrote.

He was a calm guy in a Balenciaga sweater

The journalist found Verhagen's contacts and invited him to his podcast. Left unemployed, Bernio returned to his homeland, so he agreed and actually came to the meeting on the scheduled day. “He was a calm guy in a Balenciaga sweater and gold earrings. We sat and talked for about 45 minutes. He shared that he was shocked by the bad asphalt on the highway near the Moldovan airport. He also said that his teammates had never seen a black guy in the shower and were very impressed with the size of his penis. And Bernio inserted funny anecdotes, ”the editor recalled.

Verhagen noted in a conversation that training at the club did not work out for him from the very beginning. It was, according to him, too cold, and then there was a problem with the agent. The football player refused to reveal the essence of it. “I thought, this guy is probably just not good enough, and they kicked him out,” explained van Raalte. He added that the story of Bernio seemed quite innocent to him.

Bernio Verkhagen signs a contract with Dynamo-Auto

Bernio Verhagen signs a contract with Dynamo-Auto

Photo: Dynamo-Auto Football Club

The podcast was released on July 5, van Raalte was pleased. However, he soon received two emails. The first was from a man who knew Verhagen and who, according to him, played with him at an amateur level for some time. He was surprised that Bernio managed to move abroad even to a weak team. The Dutchman allegedly really was not talented. The second sender was more serious (van Raalte did not specify the name or position). He asked not to trust Verhagen.

The journalist called the footballer to ask his opinion about the letters received. Bernio, without listening to the end, hung up. And then it got really interesting.

We have to give him a chance to reach his potential

On July 26, Cape Town City, playing in the first division of the South African Championship, announced the signing of striker Bernio Verhagen. In the photo, now no longer available on the club's website, owner John Komitis was seen shaking hands with a smiling Dutchman. The football player spent less than a month in the team and did not play a match.

Already on August 22, the Dutchman became a player of Audax Italiano, a team from the first division of the Chilean championship. Club president Lorenzo Antillo promised that Verhagen would stay at Audax until December. “He became part of the team thanks to the international connections that we have,” the functionary told the press. As a result, after 61 days, the contract was terminated, and any mention of Bernio disappeared from the Chilean website.

After that, van Raalte contacted Bernio and asked him for the number of the agent behind all these transactions. The athlete again made it clear that he no longer wants to hear and see the journalist: “I want you to stop bothering me with your nonsense.”

On November 5, Verkhagen signed the Danish Virg FF (VFF). The Dutchman took number 28, which was announced at a special press conference. Club Director Jesper Fredberg said: “He has outstanding skills, which, in our opinion, are amazing. He was recommended by people close to the club, so we believe that it made sense to offer him a contract. We must give him a chance to reveal the potential that is undoubtedly in him. ” Verkhagen left the club after 19 days without explanation.

So, in nine months, the mysterious Dutchman changed four clubs in four different countries. Before he spoke to amateurs. How did it happen that all these teams were ready to sign a player without any reputation, experience? And how did the Verkhagen manage to find work so quickly after the next dismissal?

Large scam

Van Raalte again set to work. Gradually, the situation began to clear up.

Virug FF was the first club to agree to give a comment. It turned out that they submitted a statement to the police and accused him of fraud. The club claimed that they became victims of a large scam, a serious crime associated with fraud with documents and theft of personal data. Representatives of the other three former Dutchman teams were less frank, but did not hide that they were also deceived.

Then the journalist contacted an amateur club, where Verkhagen was listed before a trip to Moldova. There he was told that the player’s only ability was speed – he did not possess other talents. And the football player Andreas Beis, who played for one of the rival teams, noticed that Bernio did not know how to play at all. “I was shocked by how bad it is,” said the athlete. Based on this, Van Raalte recorded the second output issue. Verkhagen went to him with a demand to remove “defamatory information” and threatened the court. The journalist did not respond.

Bernio Verkhagen in Cape Town City

Bernio Verkhagen in Cape Town City

Photo: Cape Town City F.C.

In parallel, the Danish newspaper BT made success in the investigation. Journalists found that Verkhagen transitions were initiated by Mo Sina, director of Stellar Group, a famous sports agency (accompanied the transfer of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur to Madrid Real Madrid). So it was with Dynamo-Auto when he contacted the club directly. And in the case of a transfer to Cape Town City, Sina previously talked with a certain agent from South Africa through WhatsApp. He explained that there is a player who at the end of the year awaits a good contract in China, and now he needs to stay somewhere for several months. It looked like a chance to build relationships with a big attacker, future talent.

We initially knew little about him. We saw several frames, and we really liked them. Verkhagen came to us to train, and soon we signed it

It turned out, however, that the messenger with the agent did not communicate, but the impostor. The real director of Stellar Group saw his name in the press and refuted participation in the transfer.At that moment, Verkhagen already arrived at Cape Town and worked in the gym. When the football player was asked if he knew about fraud, he, of course, shrugged and stated that he himself was sure that he was working with a real Sina. The agent, who eventually arranged him in the team, later said that the football player himself probably wrote to him in WhatsApp.

This was a strong blow to our pride

With the Audax, it was about the same: supposedly Mo Sina sent a letter to Chilean agent Gaston Gonzalez Pesol, in which he spoke about a fantastic player. Since Cape Town was silent (probably because they did not want to publicly sign in their own naivety), they did not suspect the Chilean team about the scam. “Since we did not use our quota of foreign players, we signed it,” the club president explained.

“Victory at all costs demanded from him,” the Soviet athlete deceived the whole world to win.How did he become the main fraudster in the history of sports?

“Everyone thought that he was simply not lucky,” this football player was considered a rising star, although he did not know how to play. How did he deceive everyone?

In Virborg, in turn, they admitted that the temptation to collaborate with such an authoritative agency as Stellar Group was too large. The football player was signed for the strengthening of relations. When Bernio made a disgusting impression in training, they got rid of him and accused of deception. “We were not financially injured, since neither wages nor agent fees were paid,” the statement said. “But this was a strong blow to our pride.”

It is interesting that those facts on which Van Raalte and BT managed to shed, in communication with other journalists, the clubs denied. When the material began to be prepared in Reuters, Dynamo-Auto and Cape Town stated that they did not know any Verkhagen, and in Audax they simply refused comment. These teams, according to journalists, managed to pay the fake player a fee, although small. Only the behavior of the representatives of Virgga remained transparent, despite the incredible embarrassment. In the Reuters commentary, they confirmed the discoveries of Van Raalte and Danish reporters and explained: “We take responsibility in this matter and hope that other clubs will never fall into a similar situation.”

Whoever was an agent of Verkhagen – the Dutchman himself or a certain accomplice – he behaved extremely casually. The messages that he sent to clubs were written with spelling errors. And the documents that were supposed to be sent from China came from the email address ending “.ch” is the Switzerland domain. The teams did not pay attention to this

Then the police did not detain the Dutchman – evidence of guilt, according to investigators, was not enough. The reason appeared six months later, however, already in connection with another crime.

I would never have thought that people can lie like that

During his stay in Virgog, Verkhagen lived at a hotel with 21-year-old Chilika Naiaret torment. The couple regularly scandalized, and the girl in social networks reported that Bernio abducted her, beats and periodically closes her in the room, taking the keys with her, and also steal her money and jewelry.Once, cameras of video surveillance filmed how he forcibly dragged the girl along the street by the hair, at the same time beating. Tormented a way to contact the police.

In the site, Chilika also stated that Bernio was deceiving her, talking about her successful football career. “Verkhagen is a terrible manipulator. He posed in front of me in the T -shirt Copenhagen, proving that he was playing for this club. I would never have thought that people could lie like that, ”the girl said. She remembered how the Dutchman ordered the form of three different teams, took a photo and was going to place them on his page on Wikipedia. He had many more plans for football fraud, Naiiret claimed.

Bernio Verkhagen detention in Colombia

Bernio Verkhagen detention in Colombia

Photo: Migración Colombia

Bernio was found and arrested before the court. And on this the story could end, but during the transfer from one correctional institution to another Verkhagen fled. On Instagram, he wrote that he was going to Sweden to confuse the police, but after 12 hours he was caught. The court brought ten charges, including violence, threats, recording intercourse without consent, extortion, fraud. On June 24, 2020, Verkhagen was sentenced to 15 months in prison. By the way, at a meeting, when the Dutchman was asked if he works somewhere, he replied: “I am a football player, already negotiating with one Danish club.”

Bernio Verkhagen is always lying, and in this he is good

For several months that Bernio spent under investigation, settled in the last period, so less than a year later the Dutchman was released. And almost immediately he left for Colombia. There, Bernio spent nights in hotel suite, rented yachts and enjoyed going to the most expensive restaurants, without paying for this. The owners of the establishments were honored to serve such a guest: the Verkhagen seemed everywhere as a professional player of large clubs in Europe. Several people even photographed with him and asked for an autograph.

The police were caused by prostitutes (in Colombia, prostitution is legal, regulated and limited by brothels in the designated zones of tolerance – approx. when Verkhagen refused to pay for their services. More precisely, he promised to transfer money later, referring to the complexity of international transfers, but time passed, but there was no payment. He was detained in June 2021. The date of the new court has not yet been scheduled, it is also not known what specific charges will be brought to him.

According to The Athletic, earlier in the header of the Verkhagen profile on Instagram (at the time of preparation of the article for, the account was deleted) it was written: “Professional football player”. And on the page on Facebook, the post with a quote was assigned: “If the plan does not work, change the plan. But not the goal. Here it is, the essence of the main swindler of modern sports!