Wesley Sneijder will do what he can to come back to his personal top level. The little midfield general was voted the best midfielder of 2010 (duh…. title in Italy, CL title, runner up in World Cup) and with only 28 years on the clock one would expect at least three more great seasons…
But Sneijder good fortunes (that 2010 season, working under Mourinho, being blessed with lots and lots of talent, Yolanthe) seemed to go against him when Jose left Inter and Sneijder believed he was still at Real Madrid or Chelsea. In Milan, the austerity measures hit hard and Sneijder’s stance on the whole pay-check matter resulted in him not playing a single minute for Inter in four months.
And even great players like Sneijder can’t sit out games for months without losing fitness and rhythm. Add to that a number of little pains and maybe a bit too much complacency with the mrs in Milan.
The former Oranje captain has made a pledge though. To do all he can to return. To be ready for Oranje in the Summer of 2014. For his own honour, but also to repay Louis van Gaal.
This season was….turbulent…
“It was. Very. I was happy in Inter until they came with these new demands. I thought it was wrong. Although I can imagine the club is in trouble, they should honour a contract and I was simply annoyed that I was being blackmailed. I know I can easily get by with less per month, that is not the point. I was instructed by different management groups and players’ unions that if I would give in, a lot of clubs would use the same arguments to put players on the spot.”
“The relationship between me and the club deteriorated as they seemed to be cross with me for the contract I had. Really immature. I realised I had to go, but not a lot of clubs were keen to pay a significant amount for a player whose fitness was questionable, and all that mid-season.”
When Galatasary came to the table, a lot of punters felt Sneijder should let that one pass, but he was keen. “I was keen. Galatasaray is a big club. Internationally. Dirk Kuyt has a great time in Turkey and I heard great stories from Pierre van Hooydonck as well. So we went and checked it out and I loved it.
The passion, the emotions… Football is important in Italy, but nothing beats how football is experienced in Turkey. And Gala has a strong squad, they had just signed Drogba and of course I knew Amrabat (ex PSV).”
Sneijder wasn’t able to set the Turkish competition on fire. “It was a major disappointment. And not just because I was so unfit, also because the Turkish competition is pretty strong. You need to be really on the top of your game. I was behind the group in fitness but everyone was keen to see me play. The coach, the fans and I was too. So I started too early, as these things go… And got little aches and things but I didn’t want to let the team down. But before I knew it the coach started to sub me so I never got the chance to convince, really.”
Sneijder is visibly upset that he let his team and his new fans down. “I love the club and we love living there, it’s amazing. So different and rich and lively. But I need to take revenge on myself. And listen, not just with Gala, I also feel a debt to the team manager. He made me skipper after Bommel and I don’t think I have paid him back with my performance.”
Van Gaal took the band away from Sneijder, explaining to him and the media that Sneijder was currently not fit enough to play top class football. “That hurt. Of course. I don’t know whether I expected him to leave me as skipper… I probably hoped for it, but I knew he couldn’t. I think Robin is the best man for the job now. For sure. He is fit, he is on top of the world, his season at ManU was astonishing. Nothing but kudos for him, but I need to focus on me now and I have to swallow my pride and hurt and simply work my ass off.”
We saw you at the Hoenderloo trainings camp. With that somewhat angry expression on your face? “Yes, that is me alright. Whenever I feel I have to battle or struggle to get on top, I get that look. As if there’s a thunderstorm in the air. But listen, I need that. I need that to motivate myself. I want to show the world what I’m made off.”
He lets out another big sigh. “I want to be decisive for a team. I want to be important. In 2010, I was so consistent. I want that feeling back. And it’s not like I’m old. I’m not even 29 years old yet. I have a lot of football in me still. I have been an international player for 10 years! I started as a young upstart at 19, and now I am almost 29 years and former skipper, hahaha. I need to get myself back to fitness. I want to play the World Cup when I’m 29 years old and another one when I’m 33….”