James Rowe was invited to the Mandemakers stadium in Waalwijk to interview striker Roland Bergkamp. They spoke about him signing for RKC Waalwijk, his time in England with Brighton & Hove Albion and winning the Jupiler League with Sparta Rotterdam. Below is a transcript of the interview

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JR: “You signed for RKC Waalwijk this summer. Can you tell me why you decided to sign for the club? ”

RB: “I had the choice of a few clubs this summer but I felt the pull towards RKC Waalwijk. I did not play too much football last season due to two injuries. I was searching for a club whereby I would have a good feeling and also the possibility to move forward as a player. I also stated in an interview I gave in the past that before I joined Brighton & Hove Albion I spoke with RKC Waalwijk and I had a good feeling about the club and at the last minute the opportunity came up to join Brighton & Hove Albion and that was a great chance for me to play football in England. Therefore the ground work was laid in the past hence why my transfer to RKC Waalwijk became possible.”
JR: “What are the goals and ambitions of RKC Waalwijk this coming season? “
RB: “We want to achieve more in the coming season than last season. Last season we reached the promotion playoffs. I believe our ambitions must be to reach at least the promotion playoffs again this season and maybe even cause a surprise.”
JR: “You have been at the club a few weeks. Are you enjoying it? “
RB: “Yes it is a nice group full of pleasant players. Sometimes in football you have squads where you think some of your teammates are strange. Here that is not the case and I believe it is the basis for a good season this year.”
JR: “You won the Jupiler League with Sparta Rotterdam in 2015/2016. What was it like to become Champions? “
RB: “Absolutely fantastic. I was promoted with Excelsior Rotterdam in the past. But with Sparta Rotterdam we were gradually realizing that we are the best in the Jupiler League. It is fantastic to be aware of that and then to win the title on the last day of the season it is a fantastic feeling.”
JR: ”Would you say that winning the Jupiler League with Sparta Rotterdam has been the highlight of your career so far? ”
RB: ”Yes I believe so in terms of what we achieved as a team over an entire season. There are also more things the first time I was called up to Jong Oranje for example that was a massive honour and also my transfer to Brighton & Hove Albion too.”
JR: “When you were at Sparta Rotterdam Alex Pastoor was your manager. Can you tell me what he is like as a person? “
RB: “A lot of people ask that because of what they see on TV or in interviews when he is very serious. You can have fun and make a joke with him but that must also be in combination with a performance and serious work. Tactically he is a very strong manager.”
JR: “You have played in England for Brighton & Hove Albion. How do you look back on your experience in England?”
RB: “It was fantastic. Some people tell me that if I knew that I was going to be injured a lot there that I would not have gone. I tell them that I still would have done it because it was a great experience. I always wanted to play in England. I learnt an awful lot despite being injured. I lived independently for the first time in Hove before that I was living with my parents in the Netherlands.”
JR: “Did you have a good relationship with Gustavo Poyet at Brighton & Hove Albion? “
RB: ” At the time I signed for Brighton & Hove Albion they wanted to take strides forward having just been promoted from League 1. They brought a lot of players including 3 extra strikers. It was difficult for me after my injury. Gustavo Poyet was a real people manager and he has done well in his career so far.”
JR: “Were there players at Brighton & Hove Albion that caught your eye in terms of the quality they had? “
RB: “We had a great group Vicente Rodriguez who played for Valencia in the past before he came to Brighton was a really good player. I never saw him lose the ball in training. It was great to train with such a player and therefore I became a better player too.”
JR: ”Your uncle Dennis Bergkamp is very famous. One of the best Dutch players of all time in my opinion. Do you have regular contact? Was he able to give you advice about your own football career? ”
RB: ” Through the years we have not had too much contact. However, I have been a massive fan of him since I was young. I was an Arsenal fan because he played there. I always followed the games in which he played. I would watch him play especially and I used to get annoyed as I would expect him to do something and the whole game you would not see him and then in the 80th minute, for example, he would either score, make genius pass or set up a passage of play that would win the game.”
JR: ”Who is the best player that you have ever played with? ”
RB ” Sometimes it is difficult to say because you encounter players during your career where you think if they would just do something a little different they can be absolutely fantastic. Without a doubt, Vicente Rodriguez is the best player I have ever played with.”
JR: ”Finally who is the best manager you have ever played under? ”
RB: ”That is also difficult due to all managers having different qualities which make them great for example Joop Gall was my manager at FC Emmen and he was fantastic in putting the players in the right positions and motivating them really well. Alex Pastoor was really good during training and at arranging good tactics ”.

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