Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken made four international appearances for the Netherlands in 2022. - © imago
Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken made four international appearances for the Netherlands in 2022. - © imago

Mark Flekken: Who is Freiburg's Netherlands international goalkeeper?


Mark Flekken has been integral to Freiburg qualifying for Europe for two consecutive seasons - form that has earned him four international caps. looks at the 29-year-old who has been keeping Freiburg at the business end of the Bundesliga table over the past two seasons…

Mark Flekken

Age: 29
Club: Freiburg
Netherlands (1 cap) 

Key stats

Flekken hails from Kerkrade, Netherlands, a town literally on the border to Germany - near both Maastricht and Aachen. After playing his youth football for local team Roda JC, Flekken crossed the border to join Alemannia Aachen. He gained experience in 3. Liga, before furthering his development in an understudy role at Bundesliga 2 outfit Greuther Fürth. Flekken got his big break at Duisburg, though, helping them finish top of 3. Liga and win promotion with his 15 clean sheets in 37 league matches. The following campaign, he recorded nine shut-outs in 31 Bundesliga 2 outings as the Zebras finished seventh.

Watch: The best of Mark Flekken

Freiburg duly swooped, initially signing Flekken as a back-up for Alexander Schwolow. An elbow injury derailed his 2019/20 season, but he was involved in the final three matches of 2020/21, a 2-2 draw against record champions Bayern Munich among them.

Following Schwolow's transfer to Hertha Berlin, Flekken became Freiburg's undisputed No.1. He recorded ten clean sheets in 2021/22 as Freiburg finished the Bundesliga in sixth and qualified for the UEFA Europa League. His 112 saves were bettered only by five other goalies in the league. It was no surprise that he was selected as the goalkeeper in the 2021/22 Bundesliga team of the season in a vote from fellow professionals run by the VDV footballers' union.

Flekken's figures for 2022/23 were even more impressive - with 12 clean sheets and another 112 saves in his first 32 appearances.

A maiden senior international call-up came in October 2021 and Flekken made four appearances for the Netherlands in the course of 2022. He has kept goal for the Oranje against Denmark, Germany, Wales and Poland - and is yet to lose a match for his national team.

Plays a bit like: Edwin van der Sar

It's pretty clear that Flekken paid partcicularly close attention to legendary Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in his youth. The Freiburg No.1 is calmness personified and boasts an excellent reading of the game and razor-sharp reflexes.

Did you know?

Remember that annoying FIFA glitch where goalkeepers would get stuck in the net? In his Duisburg days, Flekken inadvertently re-enacted the in-game fault in a real live match.

Completely unaware his side had just had a goal ruled out, he went to take a sip from the water bottle placed inside his goal. The next minute, with celebratory music still blaring out, Stefan Kutschke received a quick free-kick and scored with Flekken seemingly glued to the spot behind his goal-line.

"In future games, I won't put my bottle in the goal," Flekken joked at full-time, having atoned with a penalty save from Kutschke in a 2-1 win.

Watch: Mark Flekken's uncharacteristic short circuit

What they're saying

"He’s done good things in the Bundesliga, and I want to see him close up to get a better understanding of his qualities." - Louis Van Gaal, then Netherlands coach, after calling up Flekken for 20222 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Latvia and Gibraltar 

"It was clear that Flekki would one day be in net for us. He is a really good goalkeeper; he exudes an excellent presence, is a good guy, and has tons of potential." - Freiburg coach Christian Streich

"It was quite unexpected actually, how it all came about. From the moment the national coach put my name in his mouth, to the moment I am standing here, it has flown by so quickly. I have no words for it, it's so beautiful. It's a dream come true." - Flekken on his first call-up