James Rowe spoke with De Graafschap defender Sven Nieuwpoort this week. They spoke about De Graaafschap’s hopes and ambitions this season, his time at Go Ahead Eagles and also coming through the famous Ajax youth academy.

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Below is a transcript of the interview:

JR: ”How do you feel the current season is going at De Graafschap and what are the ambitions of the club this season?”

SN: ”We have an objective to finish in the top 5 of the Jupiler League and be in the race for promotion back to the Eredivisie come the end of the season. We are currently 6th so close to our objective. We always want to play good football and some weeks we play better than others. But I believe that we are improving as a team as the season goes on. Last season was not a great season for us and we notice that we are playing better football this season and that is a promising sign.”

JR: ”You signed for De Graafschap in2016. Are you enjoying your time at the club?”

SN: ”I am enjoying myself at De Graafschap. This is my second season at the club. We will see what the future brings in terms of my career. I am happy to stay at the club in the coming seasons too.”

JR: ”What can you tell me about your current manager Henk de Jong. What are his qualities?”

SN: ”I really enjoy playing under Henk de Jong. He is always positive and full of energy. He is also very ambitious. His football vision is very attack-minded which I appreciate. I am really happy that he is our manager.”

JR: ”Can I ask you about your time at Go Ahead Eagles. How do you look back on your time there?”

SN: ”It was at Go Ahead Eagles that I played Eredivisie football for the first time and that was a special experience. The first half of that season went really well then Foeke Booy was sacked and after that things did not go so well for me and we ended up getting relegation to the Jupiler League. Go Ahead Eagles is a real people’s club where the fans are really involved with the club as is also the case here at De Graafschap. In particular, you feel their support during home games and also away games too and that support helps the team during matches.”

JR: ”You mentioned Foeke Booy as your manager at Go Ahead Eagles. who else did you play under at the club?”

SN: ”After Foeke Booy was sacked Dennis Demmers took over the reigns. He was previously assistant to Foeke Booy and after Dennis Demmers left Hans De Koning took over as manager. Although I got on well with Hans De Koning. I was injured when he arrived at the club and did not feature in many games which was to my disadvantage.”

JR: ”Always a difficult question for players and managers I interview Sven but could you tell me who the best player is you have ever played with?”

SN: ”In my youth, I was at Ajax and came through the system and played with many good footballers including amongst others Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen. But I would have to say that Nicolai Boilesen. Danish left back (currently at FC Copenhagen) is the best player I have ever played with.”

JR: ”You mentioned coming through the youth at Ajax. Can you elaborate on that experience? What was it like to come through such a famous academy?”

SN: ”I played at Ajax during my whole youth and it was like a second home playing there for 12 years. It’s a really disciplined environment and you are brought up by the club and not just in terms of what happens on the pitch. Ajax has a reputation of being one of the best youth academies of the Netherlands and I believe that is true considering the players they have produced throughout the years.  It’s proof how good their youth set up is.”

JR: ”Who is the most difficult opponent you have faced so far in your career? ”

SN: ”Memphis Depay. We played against one another in the youth teams they were tough games even back then. We also faced one another in the Eredivisie. He went on to make the step up to Manchester United and he is now at Olympique Lyon in France. He has everything in order to be a good player. Here at De Graafschap, Anthony van den Hurk is my most difficult opponent.”

JR: ”Who is the best manager that you have played under?”

SN ”That is a difficult question. There are two managers that I got on really well with. One is my current manager Henk de Jong and another is Fred Grim.”

JR: ”What are the qualities of Fred Grim? He was interim Dutch national team manager in the aftermath of Danny Blind being sacked as Dutch national team manager.”

SN; ”He is really clear in what he wants and even if you ask a substitute of his team their opinion about him that would even be positive. Not many managers have that. Just like Henk de Jong and Fred Grim, he wants his teams to play football and I believe that to be personally a great quality to have as a manager. They have both played a part in my development as a footballer.”

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