Danjuma: My best is yet to come!

After 3 years in the wilderness, Danjuma is now Orange’s Hope in Scary Days ( Dutch expression).

VI Pro visited Danjuma in warm and smouldering Valencia, where Danjuma lives next door to Jasper Cillesen. Only a few months back, he lived in Bournemouth. Another coastal town, but one where an umbrella is always needed. He played his games in the Championship, competing against Rotherham and QPR. Now he’s one of the most valuable players in La Liga, won a MOTM award in the Champions League and he has a pool in his back yard. On top of that: he’s back in Oranje!

“I played Real Madrid already, and soon it’s Barcelona. Last year, Millwall away, now Bernabeu. But the best thing, is that my dad can follow me. He never saw me live in Bournemouth due to the Covid stuff. But he’s with me now in Valencia. He saw me live playing vs Young Boys and I gave him my shirt afterwards. He had to dry a tear or two. This is worth a lot to me.”

He’s 24 years old but has seen a lot already. Born in Nigeria, but raised in Oss. Started with the amateurs in Oss, then PSV’s academy. He went to NEC when PSV didn’t offer him a contract. After NEC he went to Belgium for Club Brugge and Bournemouth. After his last season in the Championship, he had many big clubs courting him, including Mark van Bommel’s Wolfsburg. “It was hectic, we had many conversations but the talk with Unai Emery was the best. Some clubs wanted me too badly, it became unrealistic. They would make me skipper and they promised me the world. Emery was very clear. He had followed me for 5 months and saw all my games and immediately told me how I would become a better player. He was honest and highly critical. He tested my knowledge and I realised I get happy when I talk about football with people who are more knowledgeable than me.”

“Emery said to me: you can become a very big player and Villareal can be a bigger club. Lets do this together. And I am here now, at this unique club.”

And so it is. Vila Real is a town of 50,000 people. Similar to a mid-size Dutch town. The local business man Roig decided to put 400,000 euros into the club, back in 1997. We’re 24 years further down and he has now invested 200 million in the club. And his most recent investment: a former player of Margriet in Oss.

Danjuma would become the most expensive player for the club. The vice president was the chair at the press conference introducing the left winger: “Some people by a Casio watch. Others buy a Rolex. We got ourselves a brand new Rolex!”

Danjuma laughs out loud when he thinks about it. “I sat next to him and I had no idea what he was saying. And I was dead tired. It’s been a long day and I wanted to sleep. So he was telling the world how good I was and I was sitting next to him as a big whiner hahahaha. But being the most expensive player for Villareal motivates me. If someone is happy to pay millions for me, I will do what I can to deliver.”

And he does deliver. He hasn’t been able to make his guest room in order, but after 15 official games, he’s got 7 goals and 3 assists. In terms of goal attempts, succeeded dribbles and expected goals, he is in the top of La Liga. And against Young Boys, again he got the MOTM award.

Arnaut is a fascinating kid. In now way arrogant, but very confident. When he was in the PSV academy, the coaches would ask the players about their ambitions. Most would say: play for PSV’s first team. Danjuma said: win the Champions League and win the Ballon D’Or. The coach told him to remain realistic. “Football is my life. I have done everything I can to succeed. I don’t want to say I will be the best ever or something and the chance I will win the Ballon D’Or is slim of course… But I want to do all I can to try and achieve it. I don’t mind failing, but I want to fail on my terms. All my moves were conscious ones: my move to NEC, my decision to play wingback at Brugge and at Bournemouth I was creating a more tough character. All by design, as they say in England.”

His drive was born in his youth. He didn’t have it easy. When he was young, his parents divorced and it left scars, even though Arnaut himself is not keen to discuss it in detail. But Youth Care got involved and he lived in three different foster families. In England, he told a journalist there were times when he slept in a car. “But I am not a victim. I think the drive is a family thing. My dad has it too. My brother has two master degrees and my sister has just graduated in England with honours. I have my HAVO diploma, as my dad told me I wasn’t allowed to play football if I didn’t at least get that. So I did.”

“I had it tough at PSV. When I moved to NEC, I decided to become my own master. I decided to work with my own masseur, my own nutritionist and my own physio. Tresor, a kid I used to play street football with, is also in my inner circle. We called him The Snake. And whenever I score, I celebrate to honour him . I really do have a team taking care of me, as I don’t think I would be able to do this all by myself.”

By now, opponents know who he is and at times he has double marking to deal with. “I talk with Unai about this. I need to re-invent myself all the time. Football is not just Unai’s number 1 priority. It’s also number 2 and 3, hahaha. I am the same. Did you know Unai watched 17 full matches of Man United a prep for the CL game we played against them? He is the best coach I have worked with. One example, his analysis showed I always make vertical runs. Always deep, in one direction. He instructed me to change it up. Sometimes run horizontal, from left to right. Or drop deeper and then go behind the defence. That sort of thing. He also wants me to gamble. I never liked making dummy runs, but now, when a deep ball is played to our #9, Unai wants me to gamble that the striker wins the duel. I already scored two goals as a result. He also doesn’t want me to track back. When we lose possession, two forwards stay up top. Me and another player. I love it. He uses me in my strength.”

“His pre match tactical talks are usually 1,5 hours long. And never boring. He sees everything. He comes up with things like: the goalie has bad eyes and in night games he is not as good. Shoot from distance. Or, their full back is running out of steam after 75 minutes. All these details. We ended 7 in La Liga last season, we want to end higher now.”

The lessons in the CL are harsh. We played Man United off the pitch in Manchester, but we stil lost 2-1. That guy Ronaldo scored the winner, who else? But we were really good. I did get the MOTM award. After the match, Ronald came to me and complimented me on my game. We exchanged shirts too. He’s really nice guy, actually. And he really wanted my shirt. In C Ronaldo’s home is a football jersey with my name on it, hahahaha.”

It seems Oranje ignored him in his time at Bournemouth. He himself has a different slant on it. “I started there with an injury and wasn’t a starter. That season we got relegated and I wasn’t good enough. In the Championship, I found my groove and I almost did get the invite to play for Oranje in a friendly, some time back but I just got another muscle problem and told them so, and as a result I was never invited. So there is no official record of it, but I know Zeist was following me.”

This time around, for the Gibraltar match, Danjuma almost declined the invitation! “Yes, but let me explain! I hadn’t seen my dad for a long time and we had plans for a Father-Son thing together. He’s now 74 years old and I don’t spend enough time with him. And that was in the international break. So when I got the call from Louis van Gaal I couldn’t say yes immediately. I called my dad and said: I will cancel Oranje if you want me too, because we had a prior arrangement. And my dad was: no no are you insane! Go to Oranje. I will come to the stadium and watch you play! And that was it.”

I highly enjoyed my time with Oranje. The players were amazing and I was so positively surprised with all the amazing support from throughout the country. Oranje is super special for me, to play with the best of the country. Nigeria has been chasing me too, but I really wanted to play for Oranje.”

With Van Gaal’s plans to introduce the 5 at the back again, Danjuma’s position seems solid in the squad. He played wingback many times for Brugge. “Not my favorite spot, I didn’t enjoy it much. But hey, if it’s needed, I ‘ll play. Left, right, wherever the coach needs me. I want to be important. The World Cup is a dream for me. Being good versus Gibraltar is not enough though. I know that when I play like a bag of potatoes against Montenegro or Norway everyone will forget about me. But trust me: Holland hasn’t seen me at my best yet.”

The Eleven I think Louis will field. And my prediction below that. What do you guys think?

Montenegro – The Netherlands 1-4

Danjuma, Memphis, Klaassen and Wijnaldum.


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  1. The next winger on my list that will take NT by storm is Dilrosun. Wait for him to arrive on the NT stage. 2024 -2026. The only thing that can put him off is injuries. He will be big upgrade to berghuis.

  2. Your suggested line-up against Montenegro is the strongest Oranje can put out right now-with perhaps Blind the only question mark. But Lang shouldn’t only be deployed because Berghuis is injured. In his 2-1/2 games played for Oranje, Lang has shown that he is the way forward and now is the time to establish that. Something like what LVG did for the favored Gakpo before his injury. Hup Holland.

  3. AD’s predicted lineup is the same as yours, except they have Malen starting on the right. We’ll see. Blind and Danjuma should be very good together on the left. Okay, then, I’ve been nervous about the Montenegro match away since the draw. Nothing to do now but go play the game and get a win. Lets go boys!

    1. Poor work rate from Danjuma,,off the ball runs are so poor…No chemistry with blind ,Blind play high and dumfries stay back…Danjuma-Depat connection is slaos poor…it affects klassen too…Virgil and Devrij having excellent game…Time for Berjwin for Danjuma..Malen no that great but still okay..berghuis was better…i think we miss Berghuis,Berjwin…

      1. Are you watching game or no. Danjuma has been the most influential and brightest spark for NT. the problem is the midfield. No creativity at all in the midfield. Just get three points and that’s it

  4. Awful. This team STINKS. take your analysis and throw it in the trash. Embarrassing. Just awful.

    This is one of the worst games I’ve watched.

    Bijlow is AWFUL. Might as well have an open goal. What a joke

  5. We got lucky to get penalty at first half…at least defednsivly we were okay at first half…We should have burried the ganme in first half itself..i would blame Malaen,Depay and dAnjuma for that….then you know this is the expecetd Daley Blind error….Daley is an achiles heel …

  6. Watch this scenario happen, turkey beats Montenegro last game and Netherlands lose to Norway and get totally eliminated not even second place , why? Just because they decided to blow the whole match up today in the last ten minutes ….

    Well in 2002 World Cup qualifiers it happened also with van gaal he was leading Portugal 2-0 until last five minutes then he drew 2-2 and in the end Portugal came first in the group Ireland second and the Netherlands went home unqualified , history repeats itself !!!

  7. Woke up and watched the last 20mins. I am gutted to see a 2nil lead evaporated in front of me..was expecting to be a cruise to the finishing line.
    Honestly, the 20mins I watched was awful. Norway could be a real banana skin for the team. Ireland comes to mind again..😕

  8. Norway game under closed doors,No fans…..i hope Gini and frenkie steps up save our A!@@SS,,,..What was koopmeiners doing???Blind was helpless while getting raped..What was Dnajuma and Malen doing at first half??

  9. This team doesn’t deserve to qualify. No grit, no heart, no talent. Daley Blind was awful in this game.

    Brazil etc would slaughter this team. Better off not qualifying to save the embarrassment.

  10. Just crying for myself. What happened in that 5 mins.
    No hope. Norway will beat this team. Look at ajax game against velencia. Look at ajax against Tottenham. Look at netherlands against Portugal on 2002. Really no hope on this team.

    No world Cup again. Turkey will get first place. Van gaal what was that changes?? U fu** this team with ur changes.

  11. A random thought, do you guys think the authorities will give exception to allow fans into the stadium for the do-or die match with Norway?
    Also, any post match interview excerpts from LVG? It is very uncharacteristic for his team to give up a 2 goal lead given his intense attention on being focus.
    I was thinking that this match would be a breeze…just disappointed now.
    Can’t imagine the team missing out on the WC next year, and LVG’s tenure could well end very prematurely. How things can change in span of few months. 😬
    🍀 🍀 🍀

  12. Ugh, 8 minutes to go…Louis must be having flashbacks to the 2002 WC qualifier in Lisbon. Ah well, what’s done is done, nothing to do but turn the page and take care of business against Norway. Speaking of which a draw is sufficient, right? Even with a Turky win, the three would all be on 21, and Netherlands has the superior goal difference. If I’m wrong will someone let me know, please.

    Re the Game:

    Given the time and situation both the Montenegro goals were inexcusable. With the first goal, sure Keupmeiners should have had a better handle on his man, but his error didn’t happen in a vacuum. With 8 minutes to go, and a two goal lead, there never should have been an opportunity to break that cleanly. Dumfries should not have been so far up the field, and there should have been one more mf sitting deep; Vukotic should not have had such a wide open channel to run into. On the second goal, Blind got beat, not a good effort from him. But why was the the player who made the cross allowed so much time and space to measure his cross? Bergweijn (who I have always praised for his work rate and defense) should have been up on him.

    As for the offense, disappointing. I thought (and wrote in a pregame comment) that Danjuma and Blind should combine well. I was wrong. Neither did well. The other side not so good either.

    They’ll have to play better. I think they can. Lets see what happens.

  13. Blinds back and laterial pass was the reason why Danjuma got isolated. If you look back at the game, all the balls Danjuma touched or received turned into g good attacking phases even on the second goal.

    At the same time danjuma shouldnt have been subbed. Lang should have come on for malen. Danjuma always was an attacking outlet and has good understanding with depay.

  14. Just watched the 1st half..the team really struggled to find solutions past the defensive blocks by S&M who played on counter.
    Malen failed his “audition” at the right..think Berghuis’s left foot provide an outlet for goals and through passes.
    It will be doomsday for Dutch football if Holland failed to qualify at the final hurdle.

  15. I really dont wanna see another world cup without NT but if they cant beat Norway at home, they simply dont deserve to go to the wc.

    It looks like Norway did some experiment with their lineup vs lativa which kind of back fired but given they also have chance to qualify they will throw everything in Amsterdam. If I recall correctly 98 was their last outings in the WC.

    NT also has a good record in Amsterdam but this will a do or doe game for both.

  16. I have been in this blog for last 14 years since 2007…My heart doesnt have the strentgh to take these kind of incidents anymore…i thought of not watching NT games anymore..
    My obseravtions..
    Danjuma was real S@#t at LW,No off the ball running,confusion,He is the reason we didnt create much at first half…We got better when Berjwin came on…
    Malen is proved he cannot play right wing…We got better upfront when lang and Berjwin arrived…But koopmeiners was let down from frenkie…People say Gin was absent,but i felt the pressure on defense when he left the pitch…koopmeiners has big holes in games and mistake prone…Time for a pure DM for that spot..Ake should get the promotion or Richardly bazoer is the answer for that…not koopmeiners…he stumbles VS Top players as he shown vs MAnu at atlanta..
    virgil thought we won it and we are through to qatar…His mentality was lazy…
    Daley blind—-This guy is a bottler..Experienced bottler and failure..We need reliable LB..one is malacia…other one is Geetruida…Not Daley Blind period…
    Danjuma should only get the nod on left when miss Malen and Gakpo or lang on injury…Pathetic connection with excellent Depay…Doesnt know wher to run..he lacks the vision of a Top player..
    also we must consider work horse players like Toonstra..what a gem of player he is…Time for Donny van de beek to squad..time to look Vilhena as well.

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