James Rowe interviewed Helmond Sport centre back Maikel Verkoelen last week. They spoke about his time coming through the PSV Eindhoven youth setup. Playing abroad for German side Sportfreunde Siegen and the hopes and ambitions of Helmond Sport this season.

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Below is a transcript of the interview.

JR: ”What can you tell me about your time in the youth team setup at PSV Eindhoven? You spent 11 years there.”

MV: ”I am from the area and I am also a PSV Eindhoven fan. I have fantastic memories of my time at PSV Eindhoven. I was there from the age of 7 making the step up through all youth teams at the club and the national teams too. My highlight was making my debut in an away game against Austrian SV Reid in the Europa League in August 2011.

JR: ”You were loaned out to FC Eindhoven. Did you enjoy the responsibility of playing regularly for your first club after PSV Eindhoven? ”

MV: ”I must say that the initial period of my time at FC Eindhoven was difficult. The manager John Lammers left after only 3 months. It was a very young team also. I was playing with players that I had also known from PSV Eindhoven. After a while I felt the need to leave after only one season as I was looking to make the step back up the the Eredivisie but no eventual offers arrived so I took the decision to go to Germany. ”

JR: ” That leads me on to my next question. You played for Sportfreude Siegen from 2013 – 2014. How do you look back on your time in Germany?”

MV: ”It was absolutely fantastic and I loved every minute of it. Germany is a great footballing country and the league I played in the Regionalliga was a very high level too. We had good players. I really like German and English football. I also enjoyed the lifestyle in Germany and I managed to make a lot of friends who I still have contact with. I even attended a former teammates wedding. ”

JR: ”You then returned to the Netherlands to sign for RKC Waalwijk and you went on to make over 50 appearances for the club. How do you look back on your time at RKC Waalwijk? ”

MV: ”RKC Waalwijk is a wonderful club. The club at the time were also in financial difficulty where there was a possibility at the time that the club would cease to exist and much uncertainty surrounding the club at the time. I think it was very close to folding. It great that the club were allowed to continue as it means a lot to the people of Waalwijk. I look back with a lot of fondness of my time at the club. ”

JR: ”Could you say who is the best player you ever played with so far in your career ? ”

MV: ”It’s a tough question but I would say Kevin Strootman when I was at PSV Eindhoven. He was a leader even back then and he developed really quickly very early in his career starting at Sparta Rotterdam, FC Utrecht and then PSV Eindhoven . You can see now in his career how important he is to AS Roma too. ”

JR: ”Could you also say who is the most difficult opponent you have faced so far in your career? ”

MV: ”I played against Romelu Lukaku for PSV Eindhoven against Anderlecht in a in pre season youth tournament. He was on the verge of joining the 1st time of Anderlecht and was still very young. Even then he was quick and very strong and you could tell that he has a lot of potential. He has gone on to have a fine career particularly in the Premier League and signing for Manchester United this summer. ”

JR: ”Finally what are the hopes and ambitions for you and Helmond Sport this season? ”

MV: ”I am currently recovering from a cruciate ligament injury and that is going very well. Once I have recovered I want to help the club from the place where I was born to reach the Eredivisie. That would be fantastic. The Jupiler League is very unpredictable where everybody can beat everybody. We are a good team and we showed that last season in the promotion play-offs where we were beaten by Roda JC. We played really well during those games and we really should have won in my opinion. ”


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