Tag: Appie Nouri

Donny van de Beek and crying

It’s probably a matter of time now, before Donny van de Beek (22) moves to a European top club. Real Madrid and Donny are in agreement already, but Real isn’t moving as yet. Man United is also on the radar for the midfielder.

Here are some statements for Donny to respond to, about his brother, about darts and being Dennis Bergkamp’s son-in-law.

After a bad game, I flee for Sjaak Swart! (Sjaak is Mr Ajax, the famous right winger from the 1970s is still always at the club, currently as player’ manager).

Donny, laughing: “Yes sometimes! He can get really emotional after matches.”

And is he always super critical to you?

“I think so. But we do think the same about things. He can be critical of the ref too. I have a super bond with Sjaak, he plays a big role in my career.”

How did that happen?

“Sjaak always watched our youth matches and he always knew exactly who was who. We got into contact this way, and as I live a bit away from Amsterdam he offered me a room in his home, in case I wanted to stay in Amsterdam. And I would do this and we would talk hours about football and his wife Andrea would make fresh orange juice and what not. I still see Sjaak a lot. I go out to dinner with him or I drop in to see him and his wife. That will never change.”

Sjaak Swart is 81 year old. Recently, Barry Hulshoff died, the football father of De Ligt. Other generation peers died, like Piet Keizer, Gerrie Muhren and Johan Cruyff too. Do you fear the future?

“Sjaak is definitely a bit afraid. Yes and me too. I spoke to Matthijs de Ligt after Barry’s passing and it was tough for him. His bond with Barry was similar to mine with Sjaak. Everyone gets older and everyone dies, but it is part of my thinking, you know. Back of the mind kinda thing? But he is top fit and still plays football. I really want him to be part of my life for as long as possible.”

It was a close call, or I would have gone to The Hague (seat of government) to protest with the farmers against the CO2-policy. 

“No I wouldn’t have, but a lot of people from my village went.”

Your mother said that when asked about what little Donny wanted to become, you would say “chicken farmer or pro football player”. So you may have been plucking a chook right now?

“Hahaha, well my dad owns a chicken farm. I was always there to help after football training. I was cleaning or packing stuff, I wasn’t lazy. Loved helping. And yes, if I wasn’t a footballer now, I would probably be working in the family business. When I was small I always said I’d end up playing for Ajax, and I was always ridiculed for it, hahaha.”

Your dad was a decent player and played top level in the amateurs.

“He was a top striker at amateur level, yes, but a totally different player than me. He was a lazy cat. He had a nose for the goal. And he always taunts me with it. Whenever I miss a chance, he’ll tell me that he would have scored that. But he’s super proud of me. He’s always there with my grandparents, home and away games. Always. Only my kid brother Rody misses games, when he has had a heavy Saturday night, hahaha.”

Do you still wrap chicken breasts, at times?

“Oh yes, my dad asks me regularly. Sometimes I need to pick up stuff from restaurants on the way home from Amsterdam. Or I need to deliver a crate of chicken somewhere. Why not? It’s fun to see people respond like …” Huh? Oh… Van de Beek, ah you are that Van de Beek!?”…

I sometimes loathe playing football

“Football isn’t always fun. We sometimes play a dreadful game… for instance, I don’t think I ever want to play Getafe again, hahaha. A very annoying opponent. But hey, they progressed and we didn’t.”

How was this season compared to last season?

“We were doing ok. We were on the right track, but after the winter break we lost a number of key players. It didn’t go our way, so much.”

First it was David Neres, then Quincy Promes, Hakim Ziyech and Joël Veltman got injured and Daley with his situation. Where did all this come from?

“I thought about this a lot… I had a hamstring issue at the start of the season, but we don’t train differently. We do basically the same thing as last season. Maybe the summer break was too short?”

What are your thoughts before the kick off?

“That is always different. European nights are the best. When I walk onto the pitch in a full stadium I think about my youth. The games I watched in the stadium with my grandparents. We were all massive Ajax fans. And now I’m on the pitch and I look up to see my family on the stands. I will never get used to that.”

How big are the sacrifices you need to make, to get to the top?

“These are huge. But I don’t want it differently. This is my dream come true. But, I envy my brother Rody at times. I always go and watch him play. He plays with his mates, relaxed, and after the game they drink a couple of beers and have fun

Are you a party animal?

“In the summer I love going to places like Ibiza and party a bit. I also love singing along with songs in the pub but during the season I keep myself focused. No parties.”

Your bond with Rody, your brother, is special, right? He was very ill at one stage, with a tumor in his back. Did this affect you much?

“Rody is one of the most important people in my life. He knows me through and through and vice versa. Whenever something is going on, I call him first. And yes, his tumor, I have learned to appreciate life more, I think. I was 12 when he got sick and I was just starting at Ajax. I wanted to perform but I also had a lot of focus on my brother.”

There is a video about you two and when Rody talks about your bond, a tear rolls down his cheek. That is a famous video now… 

“Yes, that got me emotional too. And everyone who saw the video had that. Men cry too you know. Rody loves seeing me build my career and I love sharing my success with him. I was able to give him a cool watch for his 20st birthday with his name in it. He loves it. Rody is always there for me. Whenever I had a bad match, he takes me under his wing and we go and play pool or something…”

Rody said in the video that you are a hand-full. And when you didn’t train, it’s even worse

“Yes, I think I’m annoying. I have too much energy. I will start pestering people and make jokes etc.”

Fame, interviews, photo-shoots, talk about transfers, talk about the Ballon d’Or… you are not impressed?

“I think it’s the manner of the village I am from. Do normal. And that is me too. Yes, there is a lot happening in my life, but I will always have my feet planted firmly. And if I wouldn’t, my parents or brother will remind me, hahaha. I would enjoy going to these Ballon d’Or galas, just to experience it, but I would love to go home afterwards too, to leave all the humbug behind.”

For the football future of Holland, it is important that you and Estelle Bergkamp create the new Messi

“Oh yes hahaha, I get that comment a lot lately. If the good Lord wants us to become parents, there will be some pressure on the kid, if he is a boy. Or even a girl, actually! We can’t deny our genes, hahaha.”

How did you meet and does she get football?

“We met at Ajax and then we also met a couple of times outside of Ajax and it just grew a tad… I went out to lunch with her a couple of times and our bond became stronger. It did take a while before we were a thing. She gets football a lot! But that is normal with a dad like Dennis. She loves watching it and she can really analyse the game well. But she is more intrigued with how placid I can be outside of football and how worked up I can get on the pitch, hahahaha.”

Will she come with you to Madrid? Or Manchester?

“Should I go somewhere, she’ll come with yes. We are not officially living together but I basically live with her in Amsterdam.”

But Nijkerkerveen is still your village?

“Oh definitely! It’s home. I know everyone there, my mates live there and I go watch Veensche Boys regularly. Rody plays on Saturday mornings, and Mo Nouri, Appie’s brother, plays in it too. Mo quit football, because of Appie and the care he needs. He was feeling guilty too, playing football, and I told him that Abdelhak would totally want Mo to play football and enjoy himself. So now he’s playing with Rody in my village. He’s a great player, from the top of the amateur level. And the warmth of the village immediately pulled him in. Rody and I have contact with Mo Nouri every day.”

What is with the speculations of you going to Real Madrid?

“I haven’t signed anything. It’s all open. I know what I have here, I am valued and I love Ajax. I won’t go to just any other club. It needs to be the right picture. What are their plans. Am I signed for the future or do I get playing time? I’d love to play in a country with better weather, but I haven’t started Spanish lessons as yet.”

Do you talk about transfers with team mates?

“Sure, yes we do talk about it and I talk to the lads at Oranje about how things go with other clubs and in other countries, and all this. That is always interesting to hear.”

After I’m 30, I will return to Ajax, with Frenkie and Matthijs de Ligt.

“That would be fun. Ajax is my club and it will always be, wherever I end up. Ajax made me. But you never know how things go. There are many examples of players who said they would but never did. Or players who did come back but ended up playing in the second team… But, it would be nice, the thought you know. Returning here.”

It seems like Ajax is allowing players to leave, hoping they return one day?

“I don’t know. I don’t interfere with contract or transfer stuff. I think it’s normal and logical that Ajax wants to get a good amount for me. But I also think it is good to part ways amicably. There are many great examples.”

Do you speak to Frenkie and Matthijs a lot?

“Not a lot. Every now and then. During the season, we’re all super busy but we do app. And we see each other at Oranje and we take the time to chew the fat. These are all good lads, we share that bond. We’ve had such a great year, that will always bind us I think.”

The guys abroad are all playing in a glass house. Everything is magnified.

“True, but both are strong personalities and great players. I think they’ll manage. And you what, things like that, you get used to it. And I don’t think either one of them will lose sleep over what people write about them.”

So how do you call him? Dad? Mr? Or Dennis?

“I used to call him trainer, now I call him Dennis.”

So he didn’t say”Donny, I am Mr Bergkamp for you!”

“That would have been a good joke! But I know Dennis so long already and we always had a good bond. It was strange after he left Ajax, and I hadn’t seen him for a while…”

As Ajax youth coach, I remember him saying: “Watch that Van de Beek kid!”

“I was in my second year at Ajax and they didn’t put me in D1 but in D2. Luckily, he was my coach in the D2. I made a big leap under him. He was the most important coach for me actually, and he was important for me as assistant coach too.”

So did he ever say: “I have a nice daughter!” ?

“Never! Maybe he even thought: you, I rather not see outside of football, hahaha. And it was a coincidence that we met outside of Ajax. He enjoys us being together and I enjoy spending time with them.”

How did you enjoy Dennis as a player?

“I was a bit young when he played, but I have seen many videos, I mean… everyone knows what a magician he was.”

With me, Oranje has the best midfield in Europe.

“Well, I can only do my utmost to get in the team but we have so many good midfielders at the moment… And not just us, I mean…Belgium, France, Germany, Spain….so many good players….”

Do you get agitated when you see Marten de Roon’s name on the team sheet?

“Not at all! He did a great job and so do the other lads. The coach decides and I have to accept it. I know I am giving all I have. I can’t do more. And yes, I want to play, but every midfielder has his own qualities. Koeman will need to decide what he needs. I talk to him about that a lot, and he is open about his decisions and thoughts and all this. Koeman is a tremendous coach. He brought us to a big tournament and we’re really a team again. I am proud to be part of it and I want to help the team achieve something wonderful.”

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Tributes to Abdelhak Nouri

The news is still ringing in my ears. What was supposed to have been his season after the exit of Davy Klaassen would become a horror scenario. Holland’s biggest talent at the moment will never show his magic in an Ajax shirt or Oranje shirt…or any shirt. Severe and lasting brain damage. He won’t be able to walk, talk, remember things, think even… The player with the brains of Cruyff or Iniesta or Zidane is now potentially a vegetable. Here are some thoughts…

David Endt, former Ajax player, team manager, press chef, players’ confidant…

“Like a feather in the wind, that is how Nouri plays football. With a smile on his face he dances football. His talent came up, it wen up and sideways, his talent went where it wanted to go, a sight for sore eyes to see Abdelhak play football from the heart. When he touches the ball, the straightjacket goes off, the rules of result fall by the wayside and…well not all…Nouri loves to score, or to let others score or to win, but he will do so as a free spirit.

fans Nouri2

Fans paying tribute to Appie Nouri

I admit here and now I sometimes left my office at the Youth Academy to stroll to a match of Ajax D1, C1 or B1… I admit I shirked my responsibilities because I couldn’t resist the lure to see these kids play, to see him play!

The kid that played like a feather, that only played the ball in order to get it back. The lad who was lovingly called “Appie”, an old Dutch name for a player with a Moroccan name. He was gifted by the football Gods with the gift of True Football. Light, but never lighthearted, you could tell he was shrewd, he knew the consequences of every move. He played for a higher cause. And after a while I turned around to go back to my office… but no, just 10 minutes more! “Look at that kid!”.

Look at him play, look at him go and every second of the match was used to feel complete happiness. Yes, he’s small, yes he’s thin but no one can even dare to ask whether he has enough to become a football great. Cruyff? Messi? Iniesta? All thin and small. He is all football, technique, control, timing, seeing the best solution in a split second. Light, even musical in a way, like a feather on the wind. And his heavenly game made you want the future now.

Joel Veltman nouri

Ajax Captain Joel Veltman joins in the tribute

Like a feather on the wind, in one moment all can change. Cruelly so. It makes you mad as hell. Abdelhak’s life has been utterly and completely changed, in that one fatal moment. The horror grabs your throat, you can’t believe it, your head fills up with tears, you clench your fist. You scream at the football Gods: “Do something! Give Appie his football back!”

And Youp van ‘t Hek, Dutch comedian, writer, Ajax fan:

“I never met Appie so I won’t call him Appie. Abdelhak Nouri made his debut in September 2016 in the Ajax 1 team. Vs Willem II. And since I’ve seen him I understand why everyone calls him Appie. Appie has something careless. When a window was broken by a football, surely someone called Appie would be responsible. His eyes look through the hole, to ask for the ball back. You see the smile in his eyes and you can’t resist. You give Appie his ball back.

This is how the other Ajax players treated Abdelhak Nouri. Their Appie. I know this because during his debut, he floated smiling above the field, in between the cautiously passing team mates, these carefully moving players. Since Gerald Vanenburg’s debut, many years ago, I can’t recall having seen that.

schone nouri

The Ajax squad – with Lasse Schone leading the line – at the Nouri tribute

I watched him that match with bated breath. With every touch of the ball, life struck through his body. After five minutes I knew enough. This Abdelhak was a a football player who played football because that was the only thing he wanted to do. And it was sensational, as it always is a religious experience almost, to see someone live his passion.

He loves playing football. And with Ajax. Always Ajax. I went back in my memory, of players with him whom I had similar experiences, with Jesper Olsen, Tahamata, Van der Vaart of course. I wasn’t in the crowd when Cruyff made his first appearance, but… all these player played with a smile. Never afraid. Always looking for something special. I saw a player who’d put his foot on the ball – Willem van Hanegem style – and looked around. Not some triathlon dude of 110 kilo and 40 kilo leg muscles. It was all grace. Nouri enjoyed every minute of the game and you could see that, as his team mates saw it.

fans Nouri

In his debut match there was that one special moment. Free kick Ajax. Nouri next to the veteran Lasse Schone. It’s 3-0 and Schone will use this free-kick to make it 4-0. But suddenly Nouri joins in. “Can I take it?” He wants to score at his debut. Schone says no. The camera focuses on the beautiful, touching expression on Nouri’s face. That is how I will remember him. He smiles apologetically and walks away. He tried at least. But Schone is ok with it. He accepts it but will cross the ball into the corner. Schone does get the desire of the youngster. He dreamed his whole life to play this game and he’d love to score. A dream. Scoring in front of the fans. So the next free-kick, Schone allows Nouri the ball. If he misses, he needs to pay Schone 10 euros. Nouri scores and the explosion of joy afterwards says it all. The joy of his team mates told me, these players love this lad.

2017-04-05 22:25:20 AMSTERDAM - Lasse Schone van Ajax viert met Abdelhak Nouri zijn 3-1. Ajax speelt in de eredivisie tegen AZ. ANP OLAF KRAAK

Lasse Schone and Abdelhak Nouri

 For me, this is why Nouri’s fate is so terrible. Someone who got so much happiness and joy from his passion, someone who had the ability to bring 1000s if not potentially millions joy sees his life cut short in a cruel fashion. This really affects me. He was a kid who didn’t see problems. Who’d dribble through lines of defenders, who would always have a broad smile on team photos. Nouri was who we wanted to be. Someone who trusts the world, believes in happiness and enjoys what he does. When watching Nouri, you knew what life was all about. He reminded you, don’t bow down, but dance. Don’t be silent, but cheer.

Daarom is Nouri’s noodlot zo vreselijk. Dat juist iemand die iedereen vrolijk maakte, iemand die onbevangen aanviel op het leven zelf, zo wreed tot stilstand is gekomen. Daarom grijpt het stilvallen van Nouri mij zo aan. Ik zag een jongen die geen problemen zag. Die door linies wilde dwarrelen. Ik zag hem lachen op clubfoto’s.

When we saw Nouri collapse on that fated Saturday, we saw ourselves. We all mean so well but in a flash it can all be different. Nouri gifted us the drive to live. He allowed us to feel what it must be like to be perfectly happy. What a beautiful gift.

Fey Nouri

Feyenoord comes onto the pitch with Nouri tribute jerseys on

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