An amateur football club from Dundee has welcomed a new international fan after a team ball was found floating 400 miles away off an island in the Netherlands.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Esther Verhees found a ball marked with Dundee Athletic's name on the beach on the island of Vlieland, on Saturday.

She then posted pictures of the find on Dundee Athletic's Facebook page - sparking a new friendship with the team and its players.

Writing to the team, she said: "Do you miss a football? We found one at the beach of Vlieland, the Netherlands, it travelled a long way!"

Vlieland in the Netherlands, where the ball washed ashore
Vlieland in the Netherlands, where the ball washed ashore

She added of the ball: "It’s still in very good shape. We are now a big fan of Dundee Athletic."

Speaking to the Record, Esther said she had been pleased to find the ball, as she and partner Paul van Aken had been due to visit their daughter in Edinburgh this weekend.

Changes to Covid travel restrictions in the wake of the Omicron variant forced the couple to book a break to Vleiland instead.

"We were walking from the east to the west of Vleiland and we could see the ball lying on the beach.

"We walked over and saw that it said 'Dundee Athletic'. I didn't recognise it so we got friends to look it up and that is how we found the Facebook."

She added: "We couldn't come to Scotland - but Scotland came to us."

Esther's partner Paul van Aken with the washed-up Dundee ball
Esther's partner Paul van Aken with the washed-up Dundee ball

Dundee Athletic's ball is now in the care of Esther's son Floris, who plays for weekend league team JOS Watergraafsmeer in Amsterdam.

She added: "The ball is becoming famous.

"When we do visit Scotland we might bring the ball back over and sign it with greetings from Vleiland.

"I've had messages from a Scottish man who lives in the Netherlands and he was telling me about Dundee and how in the storm in 1953 parts of Scottish houses ended up on the Dutch coast as well.

Club manager Matt Smith is in disbelief that the ball has not only travelled far, but that the news has spread equally far and wide.

Matt told the Record: "We had been playing a match and our defender, instead of playing the ball back in, hefted it and it ended up in the sea.

"It happens a lot and most of the time the balls wash up at Broughty Ferry beach two or three miles down the road, and they get nicked by kids.

"I've played football in Dundee all my life and I've kicked a few balls into the water whether I'm clearing it or taking a wayward shot.

"But I've never seen a ball end up in another country."

Esther shared a picture of her disbelieving companion holding the ball
Esther shared a picture of her disbelieving companion holding the ball

The ball had been in play for around 10 minutes in a match at Dundee's Riverside Park two weeks ago when it was errantly punted into the River Tay a few yards away and vanished.

The news has even been picked up by local media in the Netherlands, with one Dutch football journalist hailing the find as "brilliant".

Matt added: "I didn't think it would be shared as widely as it has.

"We put it into our WhatsApp group and had a laugh about it but it has blown up since then."

Since Esther contacted the club Matt has been in touch to arrange to send her one of the team's tops as a memento of the interaction.

He's hoping the viral story will help the club's profile and attract more sponsors since he took the helm earlier this year.

"We're always looking for sponsors and as a new club we're trying to get more," he added.

"As with all amateur clubs money is key and if this helps us find investment we'll be glad."

Esther's post went viral when it was shared by the Dundee Saturday Morning Football League on social media.

A tweet by the league on Esther's find has acquired around 7,500 likes and over 600 retweets as of 2.30pm on Sunday.

It has since been reposted by a number of football pages with large followings.

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