Tag: Ola John

Young Oranje coasts to semi finals…

With an empathic win over Russia, Holland has confirmed their status as finals favorite. In the second game of the tournament, Oranje added five goals to their tally of three, but unfortunately could not keep a clean sheet against a weak Russia side.

Cor Pot hadn’t changed his line up for the Russia game. He probably knows best, but playing 3 games in 8 days after a long season might be a good reason to mix things up a bit, I thought. I could have justified bringing Fer for Van Ginkel for instance, or as I said earlier on, Clasie for Strootman or Van Ginkel.

But as the punters here have picked up: Strootman seems to enjoy a protected status and is beyond question.

Russia played a defensive game against Spain earlier on and had to get something out of this one, so we expected Russia to open up a bit and allow for space. That indeed happened, the game was fairly open from the start, although Russia did resort to counter football and slowed the game down to walking pace for long stretches. Oranje played patient game but in my view was still very sloppy in taking advantage of certain moments.

Oranje being sometimes too playful, too intricate and at times not seeing the easy solutions.

It seemed like Russia would be able to reach the break with an even score and memories of the late winner of Spain came to mind for this game.

But in telling style, it was Wijnaldum who broke the deadlock, almost in similar fashion as his goal against Germany.

The winger-who-is-not-a-winger cut inside again, dribbling and spotting the gap before hitting the leather with his powerful right (it was his left against Germany).

wijnaldum scores 2

Wijnaldum lifted, Cor Pot enjoys it…

Wijnaldum was almost invisible the whole period before his goal. He made room for Van Rhijn (who played very good by the way) and had some combinations with Van Ginkel but we saw none of his dribbles on the flank.

Contrary to Ola John who started the game with the spring in his step. John is a natural, as he would prove time and time again in the game. Great first touches, vision in the pass-move dynamics, work rate, good crosses and scoring ability. The real deal.


So a lot when through the middle and over the left flank and mainly in the center of the pitch I felt we disappointed. Maher and De Jong played a tough first half (although De Jong rattled the post with a free header). De Jong is always threatening when the ball is crossed in, but in the combination with Maher and Strootman, he seems lacking.

Maher seems tired. The youngster had a big season with AZ (winning the National Cup) and must be thinking about his future, as Ajax and PSV expect to do battle over him although numerous EPL clubs are now chasing him too.

Maher showed his class in moments. He needs to be more dominant, needs to be the high up the park playmaker for us, but he has never looked the part. This is partly also because he lacks a player behind him capable of playing the one-touch killer pass.

In the second half, the game opened up more for Oranje when the French ref deservedly sent a Russian player off. He slid from behind with his studs up and a stretched leg into Maher achilles… A dangerous tackle, from behind. Ergo: red. It might have looked harsh, but the rules support the ref and we could have had a similar situation as with Italian star Insigne, who had to leave the pitch early against Israel.


Luuk RussiaFinally Luuk gets one…

The same Maher showed he could play on, when he took a Van Rhijn cross on his right on the half-volley turn and hitting a cracker on the cross bar. The whole stadium could hear the goal frame moan and Maher almost had the goal of the tournament. Luck again, for the goalie.

With 10 against 11 it was not a real contest anymore. Or so it seems. Luuk de Jong got his goal after being close a couple of times, on a measured Van Ginkel cross.

Unmarked, he placed the ball diagonally across to the far post, giving the goalie no chance.

Russia, however, stepped up a gear. Being behind and being one man down, they played all or nothing. And got a goal. Another defensive debacle with lots of orange shirts running around but no one marking the man that mattered. Infuriating Cor Pot on the bench who saw a “Germany-scenario” unfold.

But Holland didn’t get a tight arse this time and played itself to another 2 goal cushion when a long Zoet kick got extended by De Jong into the path of Ola John who had not trouble chipping the ball for the 3-1.

With Leroy Fer for Maher, Clasie for Strootman and Hoessen for De Jong, Cor Pot secured the win. A well worked attack involving John again gave Fer the chance to score his second of the tournament, as his buddy Wijnaldum did. Not much later, Fer – with some luck – got the ball to Ajax striker Hoessen who in typical Oranje/Ajax style chipped the goalie again to make it 5-1.

There were certainly chances for more, after Russia gave up but the heat and fatigue coupled with some sloppy play shielded the Russians from a double-digit debacle.

An easy win, in hindsight with a lot of great and not-so-great aspects to it.


There is nothing wrong with 4-3-3 but as Wijnaldum showed in the two games: he is not a right winger. He loves to come inside and allow Van Rhijn the overlap. Playing Van Ginkel as right midfielder sort of blocks Wijnaldum on the right and a couple of times it was clear he had no space to operate in. Playing with a wide winger on the left and a more inside focused player on the right is absolutely fine, but I believe Van Ginkel should make way for Clasie.

In this way, the defensive four have a target always (Clasie) while Wijnaldum can drift into the open space on the right. Van Rhijn hardly ever has a direct opponent at this level, so why not?

game end

Van Ginkel does well, don’t get me wrong. He is active, he works hard, he can penetrate but I feel we need less running and more brains. A one-touch pass right in the feet of a runner (Wijnaldum, Maher, John, Strootman, Van Rhijn), perfectly weighted, is more needed. And currently, we don’t have anyone offering that.

Player dynamics

Mostly good. The left flank is strong. The combinations between Martins Indi, Blind, Strootman, John are solid and John almost always wants to execute the correct decision.

The right flank is a bit sluggish. Wijnaldum needs space to drift. And doesn’t get it.

Maher and De Jong have not forged a romantic relationship yet. Whenever Maher drifts deep to get the ball, you know he is in trouble. And he did so a couple of times in the first half.

Strootman, Van Ginkel and Maher in midfield to me is out of balance. Too much testosteron, not enough brains. (Maher definitely is a smart player of course, but he needs someone behind him who recognises his actions). I believe Maher’s disappointing game is also the result of the players around him. Say no more.

The Defensive four played really strong and these lads should be comfortable as they will play a lot of senior games too.


I think Ola John, Daley Blind and Ricardo van Rhijn were the key players in this game for us. Martins Indi and De Vrij were good, De Vrij atoned for his bad spell against Germany while Luuk de Jong worked hard but was unlucky with his team mates just fumbling the key pass or playing the ball behind him.

Strootman and Van Ginkel put it in a good work shift but at times their passing was too hasty or at times too lacklustre.

Jeroen Zoet didn’t impress me. Again. The second German goal was not unstoppable and he missed a corner against the Russians and had some below par clearances against Russia. He is not yet of the level of Vermeer or Cillisen in my book (let alone Tyton (PSV) or Vorm and Krul (Oranje)).

Cor Pot now has choices to make against Spain. Is he playing the same eleven again (3rd game in 7 days)? Will he risk it? Or is it time to mix it up and use the Dutch Xavi (Clasie) alongside Leroy Fer instead of Strootman and Van Ginkel?

Maher didn’t look fresh when subbed and he might also be on the list to sit one out. Wijnaldum clearly relishes the no. 10 spot and with Jozefzoon (or even Van Ginkel) on the right wing, we will not lose any strength.

If we do beat Spain, we are likely to face off against Norway. A very physical team. Which might be a good reason to rest Van Ginkel and Strootman for a game… We will need at least 16 players to win this one, as Fer, Hoessen, Jozefzoon and Clasie have already demonstrated…

blind pot Daley Blind played a perfect game

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Van Hanegem on Jong Oranje

It is starting to itch, right? A European Cup tournament which might take the bitterness away from last year’s debacle in Poland/Ukraine!

I am working to get us a predictor game going on the site, but time is short and IT challenges huge, hahaha.

So while LVG takes his group on a fun tour to Asia to meet Carlos and Mourinho is chasing Sneijder for Chelsea, we will focus on the Young Oranje troop.

In the meantime, the AD newspaper asked Oracle Willem van Hanegem to give his opinion.

Here goes:

In General

“The EC squad oozes talent. That is correct. But talent is not enough. If we believe we will win this because we have so many exciting players, we will have lost it early on. Spain, Germany, Italy, they talent too, trust me. This squad needs to be able to play like a team. To work like a team and to sacrifice. I hated being benched, but players like Van Ginkel, Fer and De Jong might not play. And they should be able to handle that, despite their egos. The KNVB takes this very seriously. I read they sent 23 people in the staff!! That is as much as we have players? I get a little nervous when I read that. All that quasi interesting stuff, like secret practices and all that. Rubbish. But coach Pot has one ace up his sleeve. Van Gaal is scrutinising what will happen and once established players stop acting in the interest of the team, Van Gaal will scratch those names from his list. That is a strong tool for Pot to use in keeping the egos in check. They should all realise that this EC is a unique opportunity for them all.”


“I believe we have very talented goalies. We have a couple at senior level and with Jeroen Zoet we have another good goalie for the future. He has quality, he has experience and PSV will most likely make him first goalie next season. Which I don’t understand, because despite his qualities, I think Tyton is simply better, but what do I know? Bizot (Groningen) and Marsman (Go Ahead Eagles) have shown to be very decent talents, but how will they act under pressure. Go Ahead Eagles – Eindhoven is not the same as Young Holland – Young Spain in the finals of an EC….”


“Van Rhijn and Blind will be the starters without a doubt. Blind is A international so it’s logical I guess, for Pot to pick him. I would pick Van Aanholt, to be honest. I like Blind, he is a great player, but Van Aanholt for me is more complete as a full back. Very aggressive, very fast and is very capable of going the distances all the time. I am not a big Van Rhijn fan. He is good offensively, but vulnerable defensively. Most goals Ajax conceded were on his side, whenever he picked the wrong moment to go forward. Leerdam is as good as Van Rhijn if not better. Although Leerdam is mentally a bit weak. Always whining. As for the central defenders, I am a bit concerned that Gouweleeuw and Bruma are not part of the squad. Goueweleeuw can play midfield too, has a very strong passing game… Bruma, I don’t get why he isn’t part of it. He missed a couple of games. So what? He is so talented… I saw him against Jong Norway and I was deeply impressed. He is strong, tall, good header, fast… he has something. I think PSV did a wonderful deal to get him. Definitely a top investment.”


“I like the midfielders Pot selected. The one worry I have is the continiously complimenting of Strootman. Van Gaal does it, now Pot does it. A born leader, etc etc. But I say: be careful. I too believe he has a lot of future, but I watched him in the recent weeks and I was shocked. As if he didn’t know how to play anymore. Positionally, he was doing everything wrong. He left his man go, he took the wrong decisions…. In the business end of the competition, that is where I wanted to see him! But Clasie had a dip too. I think it has to do with stuff off pitch. Clasie had his tough contractual negotiations with Feyenoord, maybe Strootman is talking to some club, who knows. I expect a lot from Clasie. He wins challenges and he brings speed in the attack, with his pinpoint passing. Maher is very talented too, but Pot will have to work on his discipline. With Strootman and Clasie behind him, Maher needs to play high up the park. And he tends to drop deep at times to get the feel of the ball, but it stops the flow of the game. I also think he needs to be quicker in the turnaround. He tends to dream away still. The subs are great. Van Ginkel is very disciplined, Fer offers power and aggression and Vilhena is on his way to becoming a big player too.”


“Ola John played 40 games this season for Benfica. Not a bad team. That means a lot. Physically, he is strong too. In Portugal, they don’t treat wingers as ladies. They will beat you up with a smile there. Depay is quite a talent too. I like that lad. It was a big fashionable to say that Wijnaldum is not good enough. I didn’t like that. He is really one of the most developed players in this squad. He is still young, people forget that. Problem with Wijnaldum is, he is not a real winger. If the coach uses him, he needs to give him a free role to explore. And then John needs to be limited to playing stiff on the left. I do believe Jozefzoon is an excellent alternative. He had a top season. Luuk de Jong is a good central striker. Great header, good mentality. He is not the best football player, but hey… Hoesen is a logical choice behind him. I think Castaignos should have been there, but he has not wanted it enough. He simply doesn’t radiate that killer mentality. He runs around as if he doesn’t really care. He’ll need to change that. Hoesen hasn’t played a lot but whenever he got onto the pitch, he scored. A natural in the box.”

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Young Oranje goes for Gold

Team Manager Cor Pot has made a remarkable decision with the jersey numbering. He gave ex Ajax winger and current RKC player Florian Jozefzoon the number 7, implying he will be first choice, instead of Wijnaldum. The PSV player (is he a winger of a midfielder) will have to accept the number 15. The other potential starters all have received a “low” number (see list below).

Insiders claim Louis van Gaal asked Pot to use the traditional winger in a 4-3-3, as Wijnaldum is more a midfielder, attempting to cut to the center of the pitch while Jozefzoon will make runs to the byline and cross balls in.

Jersey numbers:
1. Jeroen Zoet
2. Ricardo van Rhijn
3. Stefan de Vrij
4. Bruno Martins Indi
5. Daley Blind
6. Jordy Clasie
7. Florian Jozefzoon
8. Kevin Strootman
9. Luuk de Jong
10. Adam Maher
11. Ola John
12. Kelvin Leerdam
13. Mike van der Hoorn
14. Bram Nuytinck
15. Georginio Wijnaldum
16. Marco Bizot
17. Leroy Fer
18. Marco van Ginkel
19. Tonny Vilhena
20. Patrick van Aanholt
21. Danny Hoesen
22. Memphis Depay
23. Nick Marsman.

Yesterday, the complete squad had their first practice on Israelian soil. Jordy Clasie was part of the group as well, after missing the Australia game. Danny Hoesen was with the group for the first time, Hoesen replaces the injured Locadia. Cor Pot decided to travel to Israel earlier, as the temperature is such (30 degrees C) that the group needs time to get used to it.

Skipper Kevin Strootman is the oldest and most experienced of the team. His last tournament experience was not a good one. He was a witness of how the “Big” Oranje had a failed outing in 2012 as a result of coaching mistakes and frustrations.

“I saw things there, that I tried to take in as lessons. I want to make sure that will not happen here,” says Strootman, who has an important role on and off the pitch.

Strootman didn’t play a minute in the EC in Poland/Ukraine but definitely saw how others couldn’t cope with that situation. “I won’t go into that now. It’s history now. But I have had good times with Oranje but also saw how very quickly that can turn. The results didn’t help of course and I think it was a wise lesson for all concerned.”

“We have 12 A internationals in this group now, and they can’t all play of course. And the coach might make some decisions that will hurt some. I am also not 100% certain of a starting spot, obviously, so….”

He also emphasizes he is not the only one to show leadership. “We also have the captain and vice captain of Feyenoord in the squad. I expect them to lead too and Bram Nuytinck has worn the band in this team too, so we will need to do it together.”

With our without the band, as he is always a domineering force. “I don’t think about that. It is how I am. I want to perform at the highest level and I want to support any team I play in. Being skipper or not is irrelevant. I think you need to show it on the pitch, and off pitch its a matter of being aware and alert.”

Ola John could have had a cracker of a season. The youngster was one of Benfica’s or even Portugal’s surprise packages, but basically lost everything in the last two weeks: they ended second in the league, second in the Europa League and second in the Portuguese cup final.

The 21 year old wants to do better now. “I was pretty pissed off with those last weeks. But I have to flick the switch. I will focus on the EC now for 100%.” John didn’t want to talk too much about the deflated season he had. “Listen, I’m a bit tired, of course. But it’s all in the mind, I know that too. I do have high expectations of myself. This tournament could be a good finish of my season. It’s really cool to be playing with so many tremendous players.”

PSV forward Memphis Depay is almost the youngest of the bunch. The talented player knows what it is to win a European title. With Oranje Under 17, he won the title in Serbia in 2011. “We were very close back then. Both on the pitch and off. That is the biggest lesson I take with me. You really want to be one team together. It doesn’t matter how good you are individually, you need to work hard as a team.” Almost all players of that tremendously talented team are doing really well. Vilhena has a starting spot in Feyenoord and is part of this squad now. Nathan Ake won the Europa League with Chelsea while Karim Rekik already wore the blue of Man City. “We really wanted it. We beat Germany twice that year, I will never forget that.”

Depay didn’t count on the invite. “I didn’t play a lot at PSV. Advocaat clearly picked Mertens and I wasn’t good enough for more. But I am very glad to be part of this group. The quality in this generation is amazing. I will learn a lot from this, I’m sure.” Depay played his first game for Jong Oranje against Australia, last week. “Mixed feelings. My physical fitness was ok. My first half was really good, but my second half was not. I analysed it with the coach afterwards, but I do feel a bit down as a result.”

Depay can play on all positions up front, but focuses on the left winger spot. “Ola John is much further than me. He almost played everything for Benfica. I’m still very young, but I will show the coach I am ready, if he needs me. I think competition is important. And I can surely contribute as a sub, I think.”

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Focus on: Young Oranje, preparing for European Title

Young Oranje wants the European Title. Full Stop. And with the group of talents at Cor Pot’s disposal you can understand the optimism.

Today, Pot announced his final 23. Jeffrey Bruma (HSV), Jetro Willems (PSV) and Danny Hoesen (Ajax) are the biggest victims of Cor Pot’s decision making while Feyenoord allrounder Kelvin Leerdam can be seen as a surprise.

Jeffrey Bruma, on PSV’s hot list for next season, hardly played at Hamburg SV and lost out against Utrecht talent Mike van der Hoorn, who is also on Louis van Gaal’s shortlist for the Big Oranje.

Jetro Willems already played an EC for the Big Oranje but fell in the hierarchy at young Oranje behind Daley Blind and Patrick van Aanholt. The latter, Chelsea loanie to Vitesse, seemed to get sidetracked in his career but he fought himself back into the limelight this season.

Danny Hoesen, former Fulham player and scoring prolifically for Ajax as a sub, simply has too much competition and not enough playing rhythm. Cor Pot has ample choice. Lerin Duarte, ex Sparta and now Heracles, will be given a couple of weeks with the squad to prove himself. The mainstay midfielder of Young Oranje was injured for a spell, and out of loyalty, Pot gives him a break.

This Friday, Young Oranje will play Young Australia.

It seems that Pot already knows who he will play upfront. Georginhio Wijnaldum is the right winger, Luuk de Jong the central striker and Ola John will most likely be the left winger for the tournament. With Luciano Narsingh and JP Boetius injured, it seems these three will lead the line. Yanic Wildschut (VVV) will have to await his chances. Both Memphis Depay (PSV) and FLorian Jozefzoon (RKC, ex-Ajax) have had a strong competition finish, something Cor Pot certainly noticed.

Gio Wijnaldum’s step brother Rajiv Van La Parra (Heerenveen) will most likely be the victim of this situation.

Kelvin Leerdam is the only player without real playing rhythm. The Feyenoord player played his last full game for Feyenoord in October 2012, when he had a fall out over contractual matters. He played six minutes against Vitesse last month. Pot will select him as he has no real alternatives for the right back position, behind Ricardo van Rhijn.

Young Oranje will start with a training camp in Dorwerth. On Friday, May 24 Young Oranje will play a friendly against Young Australia in Emmen.

The EC Squad:

Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse), Marco Bizot (FC Groningen), Daley Blind (Ajax), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (PSV), Leroy Fer (FC Twente), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse), Mike van der Hoorn (FC Utrecht), Ola John (Benfica), Luuk de Jong (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Florian Jozefzoon (RKC Waalwijk), Kelvin Leerdam (Feyenoord), Jürgen Locadia (PSV), Adam Maher (AZ), Nick Marsman (Go Ahead Eagles), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Bram Nuytinck (Anderlecht), Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax), Kevin Strootman (PSV), Tonny Trindade de Vilhena (Feyenoord), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Jeroen Zoet (RKC Waalwijk).

Leroy Fer is the record international of this group. The Twente midfielder made his debut in 2009 and now has played 27 times in the talent team. With Mark van Bommel and Roy Makaay, he has the fourth spot in the list of most capped Young Oranje players ever. Arnold Bruggink ( Twente, PSV) with 31, Daniel de Ridder ( Ajax) with 30 and Niels Oude Kamphuis ( Twente and Schalke) are ahead of him.

Marco van Ginkel’s name is mentioned a lot in the transfer articles and musings. The Vitesse midfielder is aware of the carrousel. “So, Eriksen and De Jong need to leave Ajax, and then De Boer wants Maher and me? That is what I read. Which is all fine and dandy, but it’s not something I really want to deal with right now. I am focusing on the EC. Whatever happens with my contract is for later. I still have a two year deal in Arnhem and my biggest aim was to play European football. We will do so with Vitesse too, so I am not fussed. Now I’ll take a break and then we want to win that European title.”

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The new Black Pearl of Benfica: Ola John

Last summer, Man United wanted to sign Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan. Sir Alex was happy to offer 25 Mio euros + Fabio and Macheda. Benfica refused.

Today, Gaitan warms the bench and Benfica has a new young star. The Black Pearl (Mark II) has arrived: Ola John.

Ola’s older brother Collins is still a pro. He plays his football for English club Barnet. The twice capped striker started his career at Twente and took him to all sorts of places. From the EPL (Fulham), to Belgium, the US competition, Iran even (!) and now back to England.

But his biggest claim to fame, by now, is being Ola’s manager (and role model, but more…like how you don’t manage your career).

When young talent John came through the Twente ranks and left at an early age to Portugal, most fans thought he would make the same mistake as his brother (chasing the money at a young age).

But Ola himself tells a different story. “I actually didn’t want to leave Twente. Collins is not my manager either. He does support me of course, but I went to talk about opening up my contract at Twente but instead of that they said they accepted an offer from Benfica. That was a surprise for me. I remember saying: Good for you, but I will determine where I will play my football!”.

John’s manager Frank Schouten confirms this. “We were flabbergasted. Nine mio euros was the deal. Ola decided to check Benfica out. We went for a day, but Ola wasn’t able to decide. He was on his way back to the airport when Twente called and asked him to stay a couple of days longer. He had training the next day, but Twente allowed him to forget about that.”

In those days, John felt that Benfica really wanted him. They did what they could to make him feel at home. “I remember playing Benfica for the CL qualifications the season before. I played a good game and after the match their coach came up to me and said “very good game”. I don’t think I ever heard that from the opposing coach, haha. When we went to play there, the players of Benfica told me I was going into the wrong dressing room. In hindsight, it seems they had an eye on me for a while.”

“When I met Rui Costa, Benfica’s manager, he said he only needed to watch a video of my highlights for 15 minutes to know he wanted to sign me. And they followed me for 20 games! It was clear that the coach knew exactly what my qualities are and how to use me, I was really impressed.”

Ola John is a football fanatic. He watches everything and is very aware of the qualities of Benfica. “I followed the competition and knew most players. Benfica as a club, with their history and players like Eusebio, Nuno Gomes, Rui Costa… I always liked them. I remember that big game against Man United of two seasons back in the CL and they do have a reputation of making players better.”

And John is right. Benfica is not like Man City or Chelsea. They don’t buy big names and spend money. Benfica is – more even than any Dutch club – capable of spending a couple of millions to on-sell players after they developed for multiples. John: “People who think I went to Benfica for the money don’t know football. I would have gone somewhere else for that, if that was my goal. At Benfica, we play modern 4-3-3 football. We play CL almost every season and we play for trophies domestically. A great step for me and I improve here daily.”

John plays on the left flank when their game against Barcelona is on. Due to injuries, the coach asks the Liberian born to play on the right wing. John plays against Carlos Planas and is Man of the Match. In the Barca game, Ola John demonstrates that he is the complete package. Physically strong, explosive and fast and he is a good decision maker. He can dribble, play pass and move, he has a good long pass and cross and he can score goals. Skilled and intelligent. How is it possible that the Dutch Under21 coach believes VVV winger Wildschut is better?

Judging him on his Barcelona game, John is better than Lens, Narsingh, Elia and Schaken and belongs in the Big Oranje.

Frank Schouten is used to scouts from other clubs to harass him. “After the Barca game, the Man City scout came up to me to ask when John’s deal ended in Portugal. The Sunderland scout asked me for players like Ola, but in a less expensive category….”

John was brought with care. His coach didn’t throw him for the lions, but allowed him to get used to the football in Portugal. I didn’t agree. I wanted to play. But they talked to me about Angel di Maria. He played 12 games in his first season. 14 games in his second season, and then Real Madrid signed him for 33 mio euros. Benfica plays 60 games per season, so you will always play a good number of them.

“Practice every day with guys like Aimar, Cardozo, Gaitan, Bruno Cesar and Luisao is something else. I played with Theo Janssen at Twente. An amazing kicker of the ball. But check out what our striker Cardozo can do with it. That takes it to a different level altogether. In Holland, training is mostly skills based. Here it is too but also more tactics. I think I have become smarter here, as a player.”

Heading a ball is the only weakness in John’s game. “I never had to. I was always used on the flank. I was the man of the cross. I am perfectly two footed, thanks to Boudewijn Pahlplatz and Theo ten Caat, my youth coaches at Twente.”

Despite his one weakness, Ola John is dazzling the pundits in Portugal. In his first full game, Benfica won 3-0 and John was involved in all three goals. He has played everything since.

The only downside of living in Portugal is the intensity of trainings camps. “At Twente, you slept at home before a home game. In Portugal, we basically live on the trainings ground. We have our own rooms there and we have camps for every game. That takes getting used to. You’re never home. But my girlfriend understands. We love life here. We hang out with Ricky van Wolfswinkel and his girlfriend a lot. He helped me find my way a bit here.”

Ola John may not have been on the radar of the youth teams in Zeist, but Bert van Marwijk did select him for his first trainings camp with Oranje. “That was great. A nice confirmation. I remember I had to pass as I got injured, but I knew I was on a list in Zeist. When Van Gaal started to use all the youngsters in his campaign, I knew I was close to a call up. All you can do is perform at your club. This is what Mr Van Gaal told me too. Simply focus on playing well and regularly for the club. I trust that everything else will follow from that. Any next step, or any Oranje invitation. I focus on what I can influence: my game and my contributions to Benfica.”

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Oranje: a family affair…

World Cup 2010 was a high for most fans, but at the same time a bit bittersweet. We reached the finals and if it wasn’t for Casilla’s toe, we would have won it.

But we didn’t play great football. We didn’t dazzle. And even JC started to detach himself! We expected to improve but the next big tournament was a disaster!

While in 2008, we showed so much promise with this squad.

Still, in 2008 and 2010, we impressed also with the fact that Oranje was such a family oriented group. The lads all had little kids and it’s no secret that Raf van der Vaart’s son Damien has garnered interest from different clubs while little Van Persie almost was snatched up by Chelsea!

I’m pretty sure Van Bommel has a couple of little brats, so does Gio van Bronckhorst… Van Nistelrooy…

With Daley Blind, we have the eigth international making his debut, just like his dad did before him. The 22 year old Ajax defender started against Italy last week. His dad, Danny Blind, is assistant team manager and has 42 caps behind his name. If he hadn’t been in the same generation as Ronald Koeman, he would have played at least a 100 internationals.

Martin Koeman, Ronald’s dad, played only one international but he can boast to have two sons in the orange jersey. Ronald played 78 caps and Erwin played 31. The older Koeman was brought into Oranje at the Euros 1988 and helped Oranje win it.

Johan Cruyff, the most famous Dutch player (and one of the best if not The Best in the world ever) only played 48 international games. His son Jordi was a good player but lacked his dad magic. Still played 9 internationals and excelled at the Euros1996 in England under Hiddink.

Other father/son combinations are Wim van der Gijp and Rene van der Gijp. The Sparta/PSV winger didn’t play that many internationals. A bit more serious living would have increased this number. Jan Mulder, striker of Anderlecht and Ajax reached the Dutch team, like his son striker Youri (Twente, Schalke 04). Jan Everse senior and junior both played for Oranje (and Feyenoord) and Jerry de Jong (PSV) and Nigel de Jong ( Ajax, Hamburg, Man City, AC Milan) wore the jersey.

Then there is the brother connection. We have had 18 pairs of brothers in Oranje, in the past 110 years. Ola John was the last, as his bro’ Collins made his debut in 2004 under Marco van Basten. He played two games in orange. The first brothers were Tonny and De Kessler. The most famous ones were most likely the Van de Kerkhof (Rene and Willy in the 1970s), Ronald and Erwin Koeman (in the 1980s) and Frank and Ronald de Boer (in the 90s/00s).

There there is the Witsgche brothers (Richard and Rob), the Muhrens, the Van der Gijps and most recently, Siem and Luuk de Jong.

Feel free to add to the list in the comments below :-).

Ola John is also the eleventh international to be born outside of Holland. Siem and Luuk de Jong are in that group too (Switzerland).

Jonathan de Guzman was born in Canada. His brother Julian still plays for Canada. But De Guzman is not the first Canada-born player wearing the Oranje jersey.

Pop Quiz: Which Dutch forward was the first Canada born player to grace the Dutch National Team?

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