James Rowe met up with Go Ahead Eagles striker Leon de Kogel recently. They spoke about his career so far with FC Utrecht, VVV Venlo and finding his place at Go Ahead Eagles.

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The 25-year-old began his career with Utrecht and made 48 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals. After loan spells with VVV and Almere City he joined Go Ahead Eagles in 2015. In the two years since, he has scored 30 goals and added eight assists in 82 matches for the Deventer club.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

JR: “What are your thoughts on Go Ahead Eagles start to the 2017/2018 season? ”

LdK: “So far we have had up’s and down’s this season. Away from home we have not started well. We played well at home to NEC Nijmegen. I believe that we should have got more points that we currently have.”

JR: “You sustained a hamstring injury in the match against Helmond Sport. How is your recovery going? ”

LdK: “I played the first three games of the season and in the away game against Helmond Sport I suffered a hamstring injury in the 13th minute and managed to play out the game until 15 minutes before the end. But afterwards it was proving irritable. I believe it is getting better and is improving. ”

JR: “You made your debut for FC Utrecht in 2010. How do you look back on your time at FC Utrecht? ”

LdK: “I look back with fond memories of my time at FC Utrecht. I was only 18 when I made my debut and I played in some great games for the club especially in the Europa League. But after that I did not manage to hold down a place in the starting lineup hence why I had some time out on loan and eventually signed with a great club in Go Ahead Eagles.”

JR: “Would you say that the Europa League was the highlight during your time at the club? ”

LdK: “Yes especially with playing as many minutes as I did such the second half v Liverpool at Anfield and also the travelling to countries such as England and Italy and in such a tournament all the things are really well arranged on and off the pitch.”

JR: “You mentioned going out on loan from FC Utrecht you went to VVV Venlo. How do you look back on your time there? ”

LdK: “I arrived at the club quiet late in pre season which was tough as I did not play the first five games of that season after that I managed to get in the starting lineup and ended up scoring 15 goals. I also returned to FC Utrecht as a better player.”

JR: “You arrived at Go Ahead Eagles in 2015. You have really found your place scoring lots of goals. Do you feel at home in Deventer?”

LdK: “Yes definitely I have scored a lot of goals here and I extended my contract too. Everybody knows we found it tough in the Eredivisie last season where did not accumulate enough points. But this season we are ready to go for it and fight for promotion.”

JR: “You mentioned Go Ahead Eagles relegation from the Eredivisie last season. How do you process such a situation as a professional footballer?”

LdK: “Personally for me it is a double edged sword. When I came here the club was in Jupiler League and managed to get promoted to the Eredivisie and we wanted to push on from that which unfortunately we could not do. But I am somebody who can adjust and anticipate and get ready for the new season.”

JR: “What are the goals and ambitions of Go Ahead Eagles this season. Promotion to the Eredivisie? ”

LdK: “Of course that must be our objective but it will be difficult to achieve promotion straight back to the Eredivisie. But we have a strong squad who can be up there in the Jupiler League fighting for preferably the Jupiler League title or at least a play-off place.”

JR: “Can you tell me who is the best player you played with?”

LdK: “I have played with many players who have gone on to become great players especially in my time at FC Utrecht such as Dries Mertens, Kevin Strootman and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. It’s difficult to chose one. I am just pleased to say that I have played with them and have followed their career closely.”

JR: “Who is the most difficult opponent you have faced? ”

LdK: “That quickly makes me think of my Europe League experience when I came on as a substitute for Ricky van Wolfswinkel who had broke his collarbone away at Liverpool. I was up against Martin Skrtel and during the first aerial challenge he went straight through my head. He was a really tough defender who luckily was substituted in the second half. He was like a butcher with his manners of defender.”

JR: “You have had a few managers in your career. Is there a particular manager that stands out for you?”

Ldk: “I have had many good managers that is for sure but I often look back to the reserve team at FC Utrecht where Jean-Paul de Jong let me move to the FC Utrecht first team squad together with Robbie Alfen. He kept believing in me and helped me on my path to reaching the first team squad at FC Utrecht. I would not say that Jean-Paul de Jong is the best manager I have ever had but definitely the one that I have worked the best with. I also mentioned them both due to the the influence that they had on my development at that time in my career.”

JR: “Finally you have played your whole career in the Netherlands. Are you open to a move abroad one day?”

Ldk: “I would love to play abroad one day that would be nice and you never know when such a chance will come. It is something I would want. I have had options to move abroad in the past but they were not clubs that I really wanted to go to. I would like to play in England one day in the Championship for example. It’s a great league that is so competitive. I am also really happy here at Go Ahead Eagles. This year is my 3rd season with the club and that tells you how happy I am.”

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