Football-Oranje’s James Rowe spoke to FC Augsburg defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw via telephone. They spoke about playing in the Bundesliga for FC Augsburg and his time at SC Heerenveen and AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
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Below is a transcript of the interview.

JR ”In January 2016 you signed for Bundesliga team FC Augsburg. Was that a concious decision?”

JG ”I signed for FC Augsburg in the winter of 2016. The previous summer I had a few options to leave AZ Alkmaar including Olympiakos amongst other clubs. But AZ Alkmaar refused to let me leave in the summer because five or six players had already left. I was happy to remain with the club as I was captain. In the winter FC Augsburg came in for me after we played them in the Europa League. It was always my dream to play in the Bundesliga.”

JR ”Are you still enjoying your time in Germany?”

JG ”Yes very much so, me and my family feel at home here in Germany and that is very important when adapting to a new country.”

JR ”How do you look back at your time at SC Heerenveen? What were the highlights?”

JG ”My time at SC Heerenveen was very positive. I played their from the youth team onwards. Back then it was fairly difficult to break into the first team as SC Heerenveen brought a lot of players from abroad. I managed to do it along with Luciano Narsingh who now plays for Swansea City in the Premier League. My highlights include making my debut in the Eredivisie. Ron Jans gave me my debut and I always got on well with him. Also playing in the Europa League with SC Heerenveen was fantastic. I am just proud that I managed to break through to the first team from the youth team whilst at the club.”

JR ”How do you look back on your time at AZ Alkmaar? You were captain of the club at the age of only 24. What qualities do you need for the role and did you enjoy the responsability?”

JG ”It teaches you to not just focus on yourself. As a captain you have a responsibility to the team and you are more involved. In my second season at AZ Alkmaar I was vice captain which helped me to get used to the role and in my third season I was captain for half a season before I made the transfer to FC Augsburg. Yes I enjoyed the role as captain and I learnt a lot as I was still young. It does not happen to many young players that they come captain. You can only grow in such a role as a player and a person.”

JR ”You played under John van den Brom at AZ Alkmaar. What type of character is he?”

JG ”I must say he was not very strict but he could always arrange at good atmosphere in the squad in terms of making jokes and also being involved in training games. He always kept a sharp eye on you during training. I always got on well with him and his door was always open. Playing under was a great time in my career.”

JR ”FC Augsburg play away to Bayern Munich this Saturday. Are you looking forward to the game and playing such a powerful opponent in the Bundesliga?”

JG ”Of course we have a lot of respect for Bayern Munich. But it is also one of the 34 games that we play in a league season and we can pick up 3 points, 1 point or 0 points. We have to prepare well and that is what we are doing during this week in training.”

JR ”What would you say is the quality of this FC Augsburg team at the moment? You are currently 10th in the Bundesliga.”

JG ”As a team we are really strong. I don’t think many teams like playing against us. We fight for one another and you see that in our results. We make it difficult for every team that we play. We beat RB Leipzig at home and we should have beaten Borussia Dortmund at home too. Against every team we have a chance and that is a sign that we are doing well.”

JR ”Could you say who is the best player you have every played with?”

JG ”I remember when I played in the youth team at SC Heerenveen I trained with Afonso Alves. I did not really play with him too much but we trained a lot. He was very strong and his free kicks were always very impressive. Miralem Sulejmani and Danijel Pranjic were also very good players.”

JR ”Who is the most difficult opponent you have ever faced? In the Bundesliga I suspect Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are a handful. How do you deal with them?”

JG ”Of course I do not have to say much about Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They are world class strikers. When preparing for those games we receive video images of the strikers and I study their qualities. But you prepare for Lewandowski and Aubameyang in the same way that you would prepare for any striker of any team. You must show them respect but also have no fear.”

JR ”Finally who is the best manager you have played under?”

JG ”I have learnt from many managers. Ron Jans gave me a lot of confidence during my time at SC Heerenveen and also gave me my debut. I also had a very good understanding with John van der Brom at AZ Alkmaar and even my current manager Manuel Baum here at FC Augsburg. I must say that he is the strongest manger tactically that I have encountered so far in my career. But you take something from every manager that you play under.”

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