Calem Nieuwenhof has become Hearts’ second signing of the summer transfer window after joining from A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers, subject to UK visa and work permit approval and international clearance.
Let’s take a look at Calem’s career to date as we prepare to welcome him into the ranks of the Jam Tarts…
22-year-old Calem was born in North Curl Curl, a suburb in northern Sydney.
He spent his formative years at Manly United before entering the youth system at Sydney FC, where he would turn out in the A-League Youth and the National Premier League NSW.
Season 2019/20 saw Calem included in Sydney’s first team matchday squads and he would make his top team debut in the grandest of surroundings; the Asian Champions League, playing 90 minutes in a narrow 2-1 defeat to Chinese side Shanghai SIPG.He would go on to make a total of four first team appearances that season – all in the Champions League – and signed his first professional contract with the Sky Blues in December 2020.
Though Calem would feature in nine first team games for Sydney in 2020/21, injury prematurely ended his campaign.He saw out the final year of his contract before crossing the city divide to join fellow A-League outfit Western Sydney Wanderers.And it was here, at the Commbank Stadium, where Calem truly excelled. An ever-present in the team, his four goals in 27 appearances helped the Wanderers to a fourth-place league finish and with it, qualification to the A-League Finals series for the first time in six years.
Going back a few steps, Calem christened his A-League debut for Sydeny FC in January 2021 with a goal against Wellington Phoenix. So good was his 25-yard strike that it was awarded his club’s A-League Goal of the Season.Fast forward to present day and it didn’t take long for Calem to make an impact at WSW. By November 2022, he led the league in tackles made and was third for ball recoveries, which led to him earning the October/November nomination for Young Footballer of the Year.His performances over the entire campaign didn’t go unnoticed and he was voted by his fellow professionals onto the PFA A-League Team of the Year.The praise didn’t stop there, as his then-teammate Morgan Schneiderlin – formerly of Southampton, Manchester United, Everton and France – spoke highly of him in March of this year. "He's a very good player, you can see he's a young kid who's listening and doing everything right," Schneiderlin said. "He doesn't lose the ball and he knows how to use his body. I'm trying to help him to improve but he has a really good future ahead of him."
Calem received his first Australia U23 call up in March 2023 for a training camp ahead of qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympics. He made his debut for Olyroos that month against Switzerland.He was included in the U23 squad for the 2023 Maurice Revello Tournament in France, where he helped the Aussies out of the group to the semi finals, defeating France along the way, but were edged out by Panama, who went on to win the tournament.
It’s a small world and you’re never that far away from someone of a maroon persuasion. Coming through the ranks and into the Sydney FC first team, Calem counted Scottish Cup winner Ryan McGowan as a teammate.
And at WSW, he played alongside Oliver Bozanic, who graced the Hearts first team between 2018 and 2020.
Image courtesy of Western Sydney Wanderers FC