James Rowe spoke to Dutch Ladies midfielder Anouk Dekker about her time playing in Germany for FFC Heike Rheine, becoming European champion with the Netherlands in 2017 and also about her current club Montpellier HSC.

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Dekker started her career with German side FFC Heike Rheine before joining FC Twente in 2007. After five years in Enschede she left for France and Montpellier HSC. She has 70 caps for the Dutch national team, scoring six goals.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


JR: ”In 2016 you signed for Montpellier HSC. Are you enjoying your time at the club and what is it like to play in the French women’s league?”

AD: ”I am really enjoying myself at Montpellier HSC. I arrived here in January 2016 half way through the season. After a year and a half here I have extended my contract so that shows that I am happy here and it was a great opportunity for me to come and play in France. The French league is very strong especially with Olympique Lyon and Paris St German. I believe they are possibly the two best teams in women’s club football at this moment in time. The difference between the French and Dutch league is that the French teams know how to defend collectively and there is a lot of depth in the league. I would also say that I believe Olympique Lyon Ladies to be the best women’s team in the world. ”

JR: ”You mentioned the strength of Olympique Lyon and Paris st Germain Ladies team’s is there a team in the French league that has surprised you? ”

AD: ”Yes I would say a team that used to be called Juvisy but is now called Paris FC. It is of course a women’s team from Paris and they are strong team that are very consistent. They are always competing for the top 4 in the French league.”

‘JR: ”What can you tell me about your current manager at Montpellier HSC Jean-Louis Saez? ”

AD: ”He is a manager that played at a high level in his career and he knows what he wants from his team. He has a Spanish temperament and he kicks every ball with you from his technical area which I was not used to in the beginning when I arrived from the Netherlands. Jean-Louis Saez is very expressive in the manner upon which he coaches his players. There are very few managers that are always so concentrated and busy with how their team performs. ”

JR: ”Your first experience playing abroad was for German team FFC Heike Rheine. How do you look back on your time at the club?”

AD: ”Up until the age of 18, I was playing football with boys at SVZW in Wierden in the Netherlands. I also played with my twin brother Xander in every youth team of SVZW from the age of 7-18 years old. Back in 2005 a women’s professional league had not yet been set up in the Netherlands. I was in a position where I was not sure what to do. I even contemplated quitting football as I was not sure where I would play in the future. I am delighted that women in this day and age have more opportunities to play for FC Twente or Ajax. At the right time I received interest from a Germany team and that appealed to me to have the opportunity to play in the women’s Bundesliga against teams such as FFC Turbine Potsdam and MSV Duisburg. The destination of Heike Rheine was only 1 hour away from my home in the Netherlands and I was able to stay in the same place. It was completely different at the time to go from playing with boys to playing with women but it was a good step forward for me at that time in my career. ”

JR: ”Last summer you wrote history together with your teammates to win UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands. How do you look back on such a unique achievement?”

AD: ”When you start by telling me about writing history with my teammates and when I hear the word Euro I notice that I immediately have a smile on my face. It all happened so quickly. When I think back I often wonder if I enjoyed it enough and managed to take it all in. When we won our matches we were so focused to make sure that our bodies had recovered enough in order to give 100 percent in the next match. Personally for me it was a case excluding the outside world from what was happening in the Netherlands to focus on our goal of winning the tournament. It went quick but I would love it do it all over again in the future and then take in the days in a peaceful and relaxing way. We we achieved together was just amazing. ”

JR: ”With your experience of Germany, The Netherlands and France as well as international football. Could you say who is the best player that you have played with so far in your career? ”

AD: ”There have been many. I believe that it has been special for me to have Lieke Martens as my teammate. She had a fantastic year with the national team which meant that she was rightly crowned as the best player of Europe and the world. Here is France I played with a Japanese player Rumi Utsugi she now players for Seattle Reign FC in the United States. She is so skillful and intelligent when in possession of the ball. ”

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

AD: ”I often played against Costa Rican midfielder Shirley Cruz when she played for Paris st Germain Ladies. She is now playing in China for Jiangsu Suning. She was just so quick and agile with great movement too. ”

JR: ”Finally Anouk you mentioned Arjan Veurink at FC Twente. Who were the managers that helped you to develop in your career as a professional player?”

AD: ”Arjan Veurink and his successor Mary-Kok Willemsen who was the first manager I had at FC Twente. They both helped to make me into the player that I am today and I will always be grateful to them for that. ”

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