Category Archives: INTERVIEW

Interview: Romeo Castelen of Western Sydney Wanderers

Another Dutchman down under Rogier Waalder catches up with Western Sydney Wanderers winger Romeo Castelen in an exclusive interview for Total Dutch Football.


RW: Firstly, it would be interesting to hear how you ended up at Western Sydney – how did the move come about?

RC: It was quite easy, I was playing in Holland and WSW coach Tony Popovic saw some games and contacted my agent and then he called me. We spoke for almost half an hour and he explained his idea about the club and his plans with me, and I was triggered by his professionalism and how he approaches the game and how he wanted to play. Actually, he really convinced me to come over.

RW: You played in the Eredivisie last season with RKC but ended up being relegated – was there an option to stay in Waalwijk and play in the Eerste Divsie?

RC: No there was no option to stay at the club at all. My old coach Erwin Koeman was there and he called me to join the side and it was only for one season and after that I will move on. It’s pity we got relegated, but when I was with them I did my best and I gave everything to the club.


RW: Had you been to Australia before this move and how are you enjoying life in Australia?

RC: I had never been to Australia before but it was always a plan for my family to come here on holidays. However, it never got to that point, now we’re actually living here now. It’s great, it’s warm here and my wife also enjoys it. For us, living here is great. It’s a great country for the children, the people are really friendly, so living here is really great.


RW: What attracted to you about playing for Western Sydney in the A-League?

RC: Attracted about the story of the club and the coach. I checked it online to see how many fans they attract in such a small period. This is something I always like to go play for clubs where there is a great fanbase. My first professional club Den Haag also had a great base, then I went to Feyenoord, then to Hamburg in Germany – they all had big fans. The story really attracted me and what the coach told me.

Romeo Castelen machte in der letzten Bundesliga-Saison kein Spiel für den HSV

RW: You’ve played for ADO, Feyenoord and Hamburg in the past, how does the atmosphere inside the Pirtek Stadium compare to your former clubs?

RC: I’ve played for clubs which have 50-60,000 people in Germany and my first professional club only had 11,000 but the atmosphere was crazy. So I like that the people and the fans here are very passionate, it’s a good feeling that in good and bad times, it’s a good advert for an A-League club how the fans always come in big numbers at home and away games.


RW: What are your ambitions for this coming season?

RC: Biggest goal is to qualify for the next round of the Asian Champions League, this is our biggest goal as the season ended very disappointing for us. But that waas due to the schedule and other reasons, new team and new players that need time to gel. It’s very disappointing but we still have the ACL which we are putting everything on.


RW: You’ve played your games in the heat of the Aussie summer, are you more of a summer or winter person?

RC: Well in Europe we always play in the Winter, it is a different experience to play in the heat and normally like in the beginning of the season and the end of the season there’s a small period where it’s warm. But here, the majority of the season is very hot and humid – it’s a different game. The pace of the game is different, it was a good experience but now I’m used to it.


RW: What’s been he biggest difference between Western Sydney and your previous clubs?

RC: Biggest difference they were already had a big history and the Wanderers have only been around for three years. The clubs like Hamburg, is the oldest existing club in the Bundesliga. I mean you cannot compare the fanbase, there’s a massive fanbase at the clubs in other countries. I think Western Sydney are on a good way to match that in a few years, hopefully.


RW: If there was one former teammate of yours from a previous club that you could play with at Western Sydney who would it be and why?

RC: Nigel de Jong who currently plays at AC Milan, I would love it because he’s a good friend of mine.


RW: Finally, what do you think the KNVB should do with Guus Hiddink?

RC: He’s a well respected coach and I mean getting the job in the first place, let the coach finish the job and hopefully we qualify for the Euro. I always feel like we have to give the coach the responsibility to finish the job.


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INTERVIEW – PEC Zwolle defender Trent Sainsbury


It has been a great season so far for PEC Zwolle’s Trent Sainsbury. With Zwolle flying high in the Eredivisie and lifting the Asian Cup with his country Australia,’s Martijn Hilhorst conducted an exclusive interview with the big defender this week.

What’s the biggest difference on the pitch between the A-League and the Eredivisie?

In the Dutch league every player is very good technically so the ball does all the work. In Australia not all players are as technically good so they have to work harder.

Gosford and Zwolle are very similar in size – what other similarities do you see between the two and also major differences?

The biggest thing that comes to mind is the slow paced lifestyle. I don’t like crowds so both places suit me. In Gosford I lived next to the beach and would always walk down in shorts, flip flops and a singlet for a coffee; while in Zwolle if I go for coffee I have to put on my entire wardrobe so I don’t freeze. But I think I’m used to the weather now and can enjoy my walks around the city.

Did you experience any transition troubles when moving from Australia to the Netherlands?

I had a troubled first few days with jetlag and then also my broken kneecap on the sprinkler so I can honestly my first few months were extremely bad for me. But once I got it in my head that I can only go up from here I was trying to see all the positives in the day.

What is your greatest (personal) success in your career?

My best moment would be getting my first game for the Australian national team. But the greatest moments are for me winning trophies with my teammates.

On the sixth of February, you broke your knee at your debut for PEC Zwolle in the away match versus FC Utrecht due to a ‘nozzle’. Did the thought of legal action ever came across your mind?

I was certain I would go to court over the matter but it never eventuated. It makes me angry and upset still to this day that nothing happened and nobody got punished. I still haven’t received a letter of apology which annoys me most of all. I went through an extremely rough time and missed a lot of great opportunities because of a dangerous pitch.

You are just 23-year old, but already became champions in Australia and won the national cup and super cup in the Netherlands. What realistic goal do you have for yourself in the near future?

I would like to be playing European football next year. Another piece of silverware would be nice also.

You like playing in a possession-based team like PEC Zwolle or would you prefer to play in a team were you aren’t responsible for the build-up play?

I love touching the ball and having responsibility in the build-up, but I’m a defender first and ballplayer second so whatever the coach asks of me I’ll do that job.

Two Chinese clubs offered PEC Zwolle $1.7m for you and yourself a year’s salary of $1.2m. Did PEC Zwolle accepted the bids of those two Chinese clubs?

I’m not sure if Zwolle accepted any bids, it doesn’t concern me because we are doing something special at Zwolle and I’m glad I’m apart of this.

You immediately rejected the offer. What’s the (main) reason about this? Financially it would be a huge step forward.

I want to reach the highest level of football possible for me and not have any regrets later on in life. I go with my gut feelings and my gut tells me the Eredivisie is the best place for my progression for now.

How did it feel to score your first goal for Australia. 

This was a nice moment for me and I was extremely proud and couldn’t stop smiling after the game. I’ve scored one and now want more.

Which PEC player (apart from yourself) has the best potential?

PEC is full of great young players with big futures, but if I had to pick out a couple it would be Ryan Thomas and Mustafa Saymak. They a definitely going onto bigger and better things in my mind.

What is your ultimate goal for your football career? A certain competition or club? Or maybe international success with Australia?

I’ve always dreamt of playing in one of the big leagues like any young boy. Germany, England, Spain and Italy are all a nice destinations but I’m keeping my feet on the ground and working hard with Zwolle. And my ultimate dream it to be playing in a top team, winning trophies and playing Champions League football. Also I’d like to have success with Australia and represent them at a world cup. Dream big.

We at are truly grateful that Trent took time for this interview. Good luck for the future with PEC Zwolle.


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INTERVIEW – PAOK’s Hedwiges Maduro


Hedwiges Maduro has starred for Ajax, Valencia and Sevilla before recently settling in at Greek side PAOK.’s Martijn Hilhorst conducted an exclusive interview with Maduro this week to see what the future could hold for the midfielder.

In an interview from a year and a half ago you said you would’ve played more matches for the Netherlands if you didn’t left Ajax. Is this feeling still there and are you regretting some of the decisions you have made?

I never regret any of my decisions. You are aware of the choices you made. Sometimes this comes out great and in other occasions a bit disappointing. I do think that you are more in the picture when playing in the Netherlands which is logical because everyone could watch you regularly. When you aren’t playing at a big international club you are quickly out of the picture.

In the summer of 2012 it became public that you (at that time) had a heart condition. A problem which was dealt with immediately. Still, people do see you as a ‘unfit player’. How much did this affect your career? Were there any clubs who didn’t want you after this?

It was indeed a shock at the time, but eventually there wasn’t something majorly wrong with me. I am happy with the fact that I  have some papers which were signed by several doctors where it said I was and am completely healthy. I guess it doesn’t have any influence on clubs, because they now have enough knowledge to double-check everything.

In your career you have played for Ajax, Valencia, Sevilla and now PAOK. Which competition suited you most?

Spain. You could compare the way of playing with the Eredivisie, only on a higher level.

PAOK achieved three points in the first two matches in the Europa League with Guingamp, Dinamo Minsk and Fiorentina as competition. What are the chances of PAOK qualifying for the next round?

I think the chance of us qualifying is enormous and when being honest I think we owe it to ourselves.

All the matches in the Greece competition where postponed due the death of a fan. Would you describe the atmosphere passionate, hateful or even aggressive?

Greek football is mostly passion and pugnacity. But the aggressiveness is from the fans. There is a difference between aggressiveness on and off the pitch. Being this violent with the consequence of a decedent fan is disgraceful.

You still have one and a half year contract with PAOK. Is this your last club outside of the Netherlands or not?

That’s hard to say. You never know what the future brings.

Do you see yourself return to Ajax?

You never know for sure, so I don’t know. Anyway I love Ajax and no one can change that feeling!

We at are truly grateful that Hedwiges Maduro took time for this interview. Good luck with PAOK and we are hoping to see you soon in the Eredivisie.


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INTERVIEW – NEC Nijmegen’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh


Alireza Jahanbakhsh – an exotic name which suits this technical gifted player. The Iranian playmaker is currently at his second season with N.E.C Nijmegen. One year in the Eredivisie and this season in the Jupiler League.’s Martijn Hilhorst conducted an exclusive interview with the one and only ‘Prince of Persia’.

– What are the biggest differences between football in Iran and football in Holland?

‘In Iran players are more individually technical gifted while they don’t train on playing together. In the Netherlands I’ve learned to mix up technique and tactic’.

– In the beginning you had some adjustment issues in the Eredivisie, but eventually you were second in the ‘Talent of the Season’. What is your opinion about your first season in the Eredivisie?

‘It was a rough season, especially for the club. We lost many matches and we didn’t play well. Personally, I had some trouble adjusting in Holland. So, I was very happy that our fans had my back for the entire season. Despite the setbacks, I have developed myself significantly’.

– You said that you have developed greatly, but which qualities of yours (mentally or technically) approved significantly because of your transfer to an European competition?

‘Mentally I have become more disciplined. I came to N.E.C. to develop myself and completely focus on football and so far it’s a success.

– What is your greatest (personal) success with N.E.C?

‘It’s a bit odd to say, because we now know the previous seasons unfortunately ended with the relegation, but my two goals in the away game versus Ajax were amazing. The relieve in our team was huge and  the fans where absolutely brilliant. Truly unbelievable.

– How difficult was the transition from playing on a World Cup to playing in the Jupiler League?

‘You really cannot compare it. With the WC you compete against the best players in the world. Iran did a good job if you look at our capacities. I couldn’t be more proud. Now, I am back with N.E.C and we are trying to become the champions in the Jupiler League this season, which is also an enormous challenge’.

– Wasn’t it hard for you to see teammates finding new clubs after the relegation?

‘No,  it really wasn’t. I have to admit that it was a restless period, but I’m glad to still play at N.E.C. Of course, I have personal ambitions, but the conditions at N.E.C are tremendous and I am really looking forward to this season. Our team is really solid this season. We do have a great mix of personalities. And we all have the same goal this season: promotion.’

– You already scored four goals. With which amount of goals would you be satisfied?

‘I really cannot put a number on it. Of course, I would be thrilled with a lot of goals, but an assist is also a fantastic thing to do. I just want to be important for our team. I don’t mind if my addition to this are goals, assists or setting up some great attacks’.

– What is your ultimate goal for your football career? A certain competition or club? Or maybe international success with Iran?

On short term that would be qualifying for the Asian Cup with Iran and the Olympics in March 2015. My ultimate goal? To inspire young Iranian kids growing up without a typical western football world with nice fields and accommodations. This isn’t required to achieve success. You can become successful without those things if you truly believe in yourself and work hard.

We at are truly grateful that N.E.C Nijmegen gave us permission for this interview. See you next season in the Eredivisie!


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INTERVIEW: Former Dunfermline & FC Twente striker Jack de Gier

Last week, Scottish football writer Paul Dykes caught up with former Cambuur, Go Ahead Eagles, Dunfermline, FC Twente and NEC Nijmegen striker Jack de Gier to talk about his past football career on the pitch, on the touchline and how the Oranje will fare for the remainder of the World Cup.

It is now twenty-six years since the Netherlands blazed a trail around Europe as a new generation of Dutch masters emerged to win their country its first major football title.  Ruud Gullit’s ‘bullet’ header and Marco van Basten’s ferocious volley are burnt into the memory of every one of the 72,308 supporters who were in the Olympiastadion in Munich on that glorious day in June 1988.

One such fan was nineteen-year-old Den Bosch hopeful, Jack de Gier, who looked on from the terracing as Rinus Michels’ men overcame the Soviet Union 2-0 to win Euro ’88 and the former  striker recalls that iconic victory vividly: “The first competition I remember was the 1974 World Cup finals and Johan Cruijff was my hero from that time.  I was in Germany for the 1988 final, it was just before I started my career at Den Bosch.  Van Basten and Gullit were the masters; I will never forget the goals they scored.  We were celebrating for days!  The Dutch were in a flow that year, as PSV won the European Cup against Benfica.  I was brought up near Eindhoven so  PSV were my favorite team.”

As well as being a keen football fan in the late eighties, de Gier started to shine on the field and he soon inherited the number nine Den Bosch jersey from the departed Hans Gillhaus.  After three prolific years, Jack was on the move himself and the next homegrown goalscorer to fill his boots was none other than Ruud van Nistelrooy.

De Gier was transferred to SC Cambuur and it was whilst he was in Leeuwarden that he first worked with a Scottish coach who would leave an indelible impression on the Dutch marksman, as Jack explained, “I felt really good the moment Jimmy Calderwood became my manager.  He was involved throughout my whole career.  His enthusiasm and bluffing was what I liked.  His tactics were very offensive, which suited me.  He got the best out of me.”

After a brief spell at Go Ahead Eagles, Jack rekindled his association with Calderwood at Willem II, where they were reunited with ex-Cambuur colleague, Jaap Stam, before de Gier accepted an ill-fated transfer to Belgium with Lierse: “The team played very defensively and that was not my style so I left the club quickly.  There was contact with Saint-Étienne in France, PSV Eindhoven in Holland and Everton in England and I almost signed for PSV.  I was still in touch with Jimmy Calderwood and one week before the start of the league campaign, his striker did his cruciate.  Jimmy knew that I was unhappy in Belgium so he phoned and asked me to join him again at NEC Nijmegen.”

NEC and de Gier were a match made in heaven and he was quickly christened “Jackie Goal” by the Nijmegen supporters but Jack’s delight was short-lived as his mentor, Jimmy Calderwood, accepted an offer to join Dunfermline Athletic back in his native Scotland in 1999: “I was very disappointed.  I knew that Dunfermline had to get up to the Premier League and Kris Mampaey was a friend of mine so I started to look at their results.  I was desperate to play in England or Scotland because it was the way I liked to play.  Jimmy and I phoned each other just to talk and then he asked me to think about coming to Dunfermline.  He said the team and club would fit me.  I agreed and decided to come over and take a look.  When I came over in April (2001), I wanted to sign straight away.  I liked the town, the stadium and Dalgety Bay, where I looked for an apartment.”

Calderwood had already instilled a distinct Dutch influence in his squad with Michel Doesburg, Rob Matthaei and Marco Ruitenbeek having recently been acquired but the Pars had misfired during the 2000-2001 season and missed out on a top six finish in the Premier League.  When 32-year-old Jack de Gier arrived for a reported £300,000 fee in the close season, he was in no doubt about the task in hand, as he explained, “We wanted to finish in the top six and I had a goal to score a minimum of twenty.  Pre season was not good for me because I had a fever but when the league started I scored two goals directly (against Motherwell in a 5-2 victory).   I just wanted to be a member of the team and not only with the Dutch players.  Davie Nicholls, Nipper, Potts, Craw, Dan Dair, Little Bassie, Gary Mason, Fergie, Petrie… they were all great guys.  I had a really great time.”

After an emphatic opening day victory against Motherwell at East End Park, it looked as though Jimmy Calderwood had made a shrewd signing in Jack de Gier and Jimmy admitted last year that he had it in him to become a Dunfermline goalscoring legend.  The admiration is mutual, as Jack spoke of his four-time manager in glowing terms, “Jimmy made me feel good.  He was my second dad.  He knew best what I was capable of.”

Dunfermline went on to finish sixth in the Premier League that season as Calderwood continued to build a side capable of competing for major domestic honours but Jack de Gier did not hit his target of twenty goals, as he left Scotland after just fourteen appearances for the Pars.  His final act in a Dunfermline jersey was to grab another brace against Saint Johnstone, signing off at East End Park as he had begun just three months previously.  His five goals gave Pars fans a glimpse of what might have been but homesickness ended the all-too-fleeting Dunfermline career of a cult hero: “I had got used to the Scottish game and then unfortunately I had to move.  At that moment I was fit and I still feel bad that I left when I did.  FC Twente phoned me and paid a lot of money to Dunfermline for a striker of my age.  It was also good money for myself but the main reason I left was my son, Robbie.  I missed him so much.  When the move back home was close, I was sitting in the stand at East End Park.  It was cold but I was sitting in my shorts.  I didn’t want to leave the club but Robbie pulled me over.  I still regret that, not for my son but for my career.  I really missed DAFC.  I’ll never forget the proud supporters.”

Although Dunfermline made a profit on the sale of Jack de Gier, it wasn’t long before financial woes began to creep into the very fabric of East End Park, a situation that culminated in the club entering administration last year.  De Gier was saddened by events that almost buried the club he loves as he explained, “I’m still in touch with Nipper (Scott Thomson) and with Dan (Jason) Dair on Facebook and my contacts kept me informed.  The trouble started after I left and it was a problem for many years.  I was sad for everyone who has DAFC in their heart but all the supporters stuck together and didn’t let the club down.”

After his playing days ended, Jack de Gier moved into coaching with SVZ Wierden, FC Blauw-Wit Amsterdam and NEC Nijmegen and completed his Uefa Pro Licence last year.  He hopes that some day, he may even emulate his old comrade Jimmy Calderwood and travel back to Fife: “I still have DAFC in my heart and will never forget the great time I had.  The fans stay behind the club in good and bad times and together they will come back to the level they all deserve.  And if they ever want a Dutch coach who loves the club, they can just call Jackie Goal!”

Jack de Gier was born in the midst of the Total Football Dutch revolution and enjoyed watching its main protagonist using it to maximum effect in 1988 to win his country their only major honour to date.  Like many Pars fans, Jack is currently enjoying the action from Brazil in this summer’s World Cup Finals and he hopes a second trophy can be added to the international cabinet: “They have Louis van Gaal and that is all they need.  I was surprised by the 5-1 victory against Spain.  I think we can get to the final.  It will be difficult of course but we are the Dutch!  I hope I am celebrating on the canals in Amsterdam on the 14th of July.”


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From Brisbane to Breda – Interview: NAC’s Alistair Quinn


If you could get a direct flight from Brisbane, Australia to Breda, Netherlands it would take you 21 hours to reach your destination, without the direct flight you looking at nearly 48 hours. Of course, you would be travelling over 10,000 miles and for one young man he’s glad he took the trip. Today, Total Dutch Football talks to NAC Breda’s Alistair Quinn.

NAC Breda - Alistair Quinn

The 20-year-old Australian is currently starring for the Jong NAC Breda side in the Beloften Eredivisie and making great strides towards the NAC first team. Will Burns questions the young full-back regarding his past, life in the Netherlands so far and what the future holds for him.


TDF: First things first… How did you get involved in football?

AQ: Love for football runs in my family, so it was the only sport I was ever going to play. My Grandad helped establish my local football club (Mt Gravatt Hawks) in the early 1960’s and that’s where I began playing at the age of 6.

TDF: Which club did you support as a boy and who were your heroes?

AQ: Liverpool. My best friend in primary school was a very passionate Liverpool supporter and we always used to watch the Merseyside derbies together at his house. That’s probably why Steven Gerrard was without a doubt my main footballing hero growing up!

20140208 - Brisbane Roar - Alistair Quinn

TDF: You have appeared for Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at youth level? How did play for those club come about?

AQ: I progressed through the system in Queensland to be selected in the QAS (Queensland Academy of Sport). Roar typically sources their youth players from QAS so I was asked for a trial when I was 16 and was successful. I played for Roar from 2009-2012 in the NYL team and the next season I played for WSW.  

TDF: And you also appeared at youth level for the Australia national side? How was that experience?

AQ: It was a great experience. It’s always an honour to wear the green and gold and definitely a career highlight of mine. I was lucky enough to travel to Japan and play against teams like Mexico, so it was an unbelievable experience.

TDF: I understand you can play in defence and midfield? Which do you feel more at home with?

AQ: Growing up I always played in the midfield, but when I started at Roar the coaches thought I was better suited to play fullback. I am still comfortable playing in the midfield and out wide, but fullback is where I feel more at home now.

TDF: Brisbane is a long, long way from Breda. How did the move to the Netherlands materialise?

AQ: I had been in Scotland trialing (Queen of the South and Hamilton Academicals) and things didn’t quite work out for me there. At around that time I contacted my now agent and we discussed some possibilities for me. What my game was like, what I wanted to achieve in football and we decided that the best thing to do would be to try and play in the Netherlands.

So I went over to the Netherlands where I prepared for club trials by training with my agent’s partners. Following a month or so of training I was able to secure an initial short trial with NAC Breda. I did well in the first session and they invited me to play a game for their reserves.

I had a good game and even scored a goal from left fullback. That led to them offering me a trial until the end of the year.

I performed well both at training and other friendly matches and did enough to earn a contract with the reserves side which started in January.

TDF: How are you finding living in Holland and are you learning to speak Dutch?

AQ: I am thoroughly enjoying living in Holland. Culturally it is quite similar to Australia and most people here are pretty laid back and friendly. Another positive is that almost everyone is fluent in English. I picked up all the football related words and phrases pretty quickly, but I may take a while until I am speaking Dutch fluently! I am getting Dutch lessons soon, so hopefully I will be speaking it well by the end of the season!

TDF: What were your first impressions of NAC Breda, anything you expected?

AQ: Before I started at NAC I was told that it’s a warm club with passionate supporters. Since I have been with the club everyone has welcomed me with open arms, which has been great. Graham Arnold and Tony Vidmar are still remembered fondly by the staff at the club as well and I hope to follow in their footsteps. 

TDF: What are your aims for this season and beyond at the club?

AQ: My aims at the moment are to continue improving and developing as a player. I’ve learned so much in my short time here and I want to continue growing. The reserve coach at NAC, Anton Joore has been fantastic and has really been a massive help and influence on me.

With my continued improvement I feel like I’m on the cusp of beginning to train with the first team and that’s my goal over the next few weeks. Hopefully once that happens I can train well with the first team, to the point that I could possibly get a game in the Eredivisie by the end of the season.

Even if I’m not able to do that, I really want to be able to show the club that I have what it takes to play first team football so that hopefully I can secure a first team contract for next season. That’s my ultimate goal for the next few months.

Beyond that I’d like to establish myself as a first team player at NAC into the future and then play well enough to hopefully force myself into the calculations for the Olyroos and eventually the Socceroos.

Having represented the Under 20s, I would love the opportunity to put on the Green and Gold again and I know the only way I can make that happen is to continue working hard here, developing my game and becoming a better footballer.


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