Football-Oranje writer James Rowe was invited to the FC Twente training centre in Hengelo to speak with defender Jeroen van der Lely. They spoke about his career at FC Twente so far, the qualities he feels an Eredivisie defender needs and his hopes for the future.

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The 20-year-old right-back made his Eredivisie debut in 2015 and has been a key member of the first-team this season, making 19 appearances. The full interview can be read below.

JR: “Can I start by asking you your thoughts on that game yesterday and the 3-0 defeat away to Ajax?”

JvdL “I thought we played well in the 1st half and we were well organized and we were at time dangerous on the counter attack but in the 2nd half we lost our organization and if you give Ajax space they can really hurt you. We must look at ourselves and admit that we should have seen the game out in an organized manner”.

JR: “I was at the game at I saw that you managed to nullify Bertrand Traore at times during the match.”

JvdL: “Yes he is a very useful play who you have to keep an eye on ”

JR: “You made your debut for FC Twente in August 2015. How do you look back on your first team debut?”

JvdL: “I must say that my path to the first team was gradual in terms of being involved with the squad and then making my debut against ADO Den Haag. I must say that I was not overwhelmed when making my debut because in such a situation you are occupied with the game and you want to win. We lost that game 4-1 however.”

JR: “You have played a fair few games in the Eredivisie. What would you say are the needed qualities a Eredivisie defender must have?”

JvdL: “Personally the most important thing for me is to remain focused. There is a lot of reacting and anticipation of situations in the Eredivisie. If you can master those situations and stay focused then, in my opinion you do not necessarily need to be quick or strong. For me anticipating the situations and knowing how to deal with them can help you a lot.”

JR: “FC Twente are currently 7th in the Eredivisie. What is the secret to your success so far this season?”

JvdL: “I believe that we have quality in this squad. Nobody expected too much from us at the start of the season due to the financial problems the club faced. The club has been very creative in loaning players. At the start of the season we were viewed as a surprise package from opponents who perhaps viewed us as relegation candidates. But at the moment we are not as underestimated as much as we were at the start of the season. I believe that we are where we should be in the Eredivisie.”

JR: “What can you tell me about your manager Rene Hake? ”

JvdL: “He is a perfectionist who always lets us know when things do not go well and that is very important especially when managing a young squad. He keeps us sharp. He is also very accessible if you want to discuss things with him. He used to be an assistant and assistants like to speak with the players.”

JR: “Enes Unal has certainly made an impression since joining FC Twente on loan from Manchester City. What is it like to play against him in training? ”

JvdL: “Fortunately I do not have to mark him much in training. But you can see that he is a player who is really dangerous in and around the 18 yard-box. With such a quality he has proved to be really important to us as a team. He gives us something different and he can make something out of nothing and it is great to have someone like that in your team. ”

JR:  “Do you follow other European football leagues? ”

JvdL: “Yes I like to follow other leagues. I used to follow the Premier League an awful lot in the past. I don’t have a specific English team that I follow but I do like Arsenal. I also enjoy watching the smaller clubs in England and I really enjoy watching them play with passion and a will to win, that is great to see.”

JR: “Is possible for you to say who is the most difficult opponent that you have faced in the Eredivisie so far? ”

JvdL: “That’s a good one. Let me think about that. During one of my first games for FC Twente I played for Oussama Tannane who played for Heracles Almelo. Due to my inexperience, I found it difficult. But I think that if I was to play that same game now that would not be the case.”

JR: ”Do you have a favourite stadium to play in away from home? ”

JvdL: ”I really enjoy the home games especially with the home support and the fans behind you. Sometimes in an away game with a hostile atmosphere it means I can’t actually enjoy playing in the stadium itself. The Amsterdam ArenA as a stadium and how it looks. I think that is the nicest.”

JR: ”Finally you are a young footballer playing at FC Twente. Do you have ambitions to play abroad at some point in your career?”

JvdL: ”I have always said that I want to play abroad one day. It does not even matter where even in a 2nd division. But I think it would be such a great adventure. To live in another country and play football there  I can’t map out such a thing at the moment but I must say that I am open to many things.”

James Rowe (696 Posts)