HAVING positively flourished during what has been a difficult season for Motherwell and put the bitter disappointment of a lucrative move to China falling through in January firmly behind him, Kevin van Veen now stands on the brink of a little bit of history.

If the Dutchman scores against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Saturday he will become the first Fir Park player to net in eight consecutive matches since the great Dixie Deans did so way back in the 1960s.

It was no huge surprise when the free-scoring striker was, along with Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate and Callum McGregor of Celtic, named on the shortlist for the PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year award yesterday.

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Nobody, not even the Parkhead trio, would begrudge the 31-year-old if he picks up the coveted prize from his fellow professionals on Sunday. Even Furuhashi, the leading marksman in the country, revealed through his interpreter yesterday that he had voted for his rival.

But Van Veen confessed, in an admission that highlighted the all too human frailties of our eminent, frequently abused and occasionally vilified footballers, that he had broken down in the wake of Motherwell’s home win over Kilmarnock last weekend due to an off-field issue.

“It’s amazing to get all the support from the club,” he said when he was asked about the giant “King Kev” banner which fans unfurled at the match. “I am a very sensitive footballer and it means a lot to me. That’s why I didn’t give up and scored in the 91st minute. I knew the goal would come and it did.

“I had some private stuff to deal with before the game and I took it into work as everybody does sometimes. I am sensitive and emotional. It was a family thing, but I still think I managed to play the game the way I did and after I scored that goal, everything just came out. 

“There was everything, the emotional support from the club, the banner, and I broke a little bit. I’m a human being, so I’m not breaking away from that. It’s who I am, so it was just a private matter.”

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Not much, though, has unsettled a player who has been nothing short of a revelation in this country since moving here on a free transfer after a spell with English minnows Scunthorpe two years ago.

Van Veen has remained firmly focused on his job despite the departure of two managers, a top flight survival battle and a potential transfer to an unnamed outfit in China not coming off this season and has netted on no fewer than 25 occasions to date.

His only concern now is increasing his haul of goals in Motherwell’s four remaining fixtures – starting in Perth this Saturday. But the man who is under contract until 2024 is well aware that they could be his final games for the club if a big offer comes in for him during the summer.

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“I love playing for the club,” he said. “I appreciate the club and love everybody at the club.

“On the other hand, you don’t know what can happen in the summer. Financially, if a club like Motherwell gets an offer they can’t refuse, then I cannot say I am going to stay. Everything has to be a green light.

“A few months ago we agreed something in China. But the payments were not right for Motherwell at that moment, so I didn’t force my way out. I kept a cool head and we decided it wasn’t the right thing to do. I could have gone the other way, but I didn’t.

“It was hard. China, financially, is a different world. Motherwell treated me so well in conversations with the chairman and gaffer at that time. We spoke every day and agreed everybody had to be in agreement.

“That moment came and we all agreed, but there was something to do with the payment plan due to the Chinese salary cap. We sat round the table, shook each others’ hands and agreed it was not the right thing.

“We all moved on. I just wanted to do well, even more after that because they treated me with respect and I treated them with respect.”

Van Veen was true to his word. He has redoubled his efforts in the second half of the season and has plundered nine goals in his last seven outings.  He can now write his name in Motherwell’s record books and move alongside Deans.

“I think at Scunthorpe in League One I had six, seven or eight on the bounce,” he said. “But this is a great run. Every time I step onto the pitch I just want to score and show what I can do.

“When I am old it would be amazing to look back at the history books if I can achieve that. Then people won’t forget my name. If it’s going to be the winning goal as well, it’s even better because three points is still important. But if I can break records, it shows what I have been doing.”