Rising Brighton star sends message to Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United ahead of season opener

The 22-year-old has yet to make his senior Seagulls bow but enjoyed a tremendous spell on loan at Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers last season.

The young gun, who joined Albion on a three-year deal from Dutch outfit NAC Breda in September 2020, was an ever-present for Blackburn after serving a three-match suspension in November.

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The centre half made 32 Rovers appearances, bagged a goal and an assist, and was named 2021-22 Blackburn Player of the Season ahead of 22-goal striker Ben Brereton Díaz.

Brighton & Hove Albion defender Jan Paul van Hecke in action while on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season. Picture by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Now van Hecke, who earned his first Netherlands under-21 cap last month, is champing at the bit to test his defensive prowess against one of football’s all-time legends, Cristiano Ronaldo, on the opening day of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign.

“And I’m used to English football now. That makes a big difference. I’m curious how I stand, but they said they would like to see me.

“You can always dream. [A] debut against Cristano Ronaldo at Old Trafford? We’ll see. Playing in the Premier League was the ultimate goal as a little boy.”

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