It’s Spring in The Netherlands’ football world these days. After a spell of drought in the talent department, we’re witnessing numerous potential world class players coming to the fore. We’ll look at the winger who made a detour to get to the top. Javairo Dilrosun.
And for the first time in eight years, the most dangerous forward with a Dutch passport is not Arjen Robben.
The 20 year old has just finished another practice with his current club Hertha BSC and is panting and struggling for air. “Training is quite tough here. I’m used to a good intense level of training at Man City, but here, it’s even worse. It took a while to get used to, but now, it’s going quite well.” Understatement of the year. Dilrosun has started the season like a rocket!
The youngster learned to play football on the streets of Amsterdam West. And made his move to Man City when he was 15 years old. After 4 years on the City books, he was allowed to make a free exit and the European clubs were queueing up: Ajax of course, Juventus, Leipzig, Valencia, Benfica and Borussia Dortmund all were in the race. But the youngster decided to go to Berlin, where Hertha promised him something crucial: playing time.
When he left Ajax for Man City, the Dilrosun family followed him. Now, he decided to go to Berlin alone. “My little sister and brother need stability in school. And I’m old enough now to live alone. I spend a lot of time with Karim Rekik who is wonderful for me. I don’t speak German yet, but I am learning. Our coach doesn’t speak English so I have to get used to the new language but Karim is my translator and friend and he helps me a lot!”
The youngster might be a bit unsettled off the pitch, still, but on the pitch he seems really at home. “I scored in the pre season games and did well, but the coach didn’t use me in the first Bundesliga match. He felt I need to get stronger. I played with the second team and scored in my first official match. A week later, the coach decided I was good enough for the first team after all, hahaha.”
Against Schalke 04, Javairo started on the bench. And when Rekik is the one who needed to be subbed due to an injury in the first 10 minutes, his buddy Dilrosun came on. And had his first assist. The media and fans in Germany were surprised. “I was not. I worked hard for this. And when you do get the chance, you simply have to take it. That is how it is.”
The Dutchman got his starting berth and would have 3 more assists and score two goals. Even Arjen Robben can’t say that. And end of September, the two faced off against each other. Hertha wins, 2-0, in front of 75,000 people. “I met Arjen before the game, he was always one of my heroes. I’m a leftie too, like him. He wished me the best. I wanted to exchange shirts after the game, but I couldn’t find him anymore, sadly. So I didn’t get the shirt.”
Where Robben took the step-by-step route (Groningen, PSV, Chelsea), young Dilrosun took another avenue. He started at Ajax when he was 7 years old and Ajax Youth Academy director Said Ouaali was his youth coach, for a spell. “Javairo is a really really good player. He is lethal. So fast and but still with tremendous vision. He can go outside, come inside, take on a player with speed or with his trickely and skill. He could play midfield too, but his goal scoring abilities made him a perfect attacker. And, not unimportant: he is a very nice, decent and quiet lad. Very respectful and always with that wide smile on his face.” Dilrosun was part of the team that also brought us Donny van de Beek, Carel Eiting, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Pablo Rosario. Somehow Ajax never presented the winger with a contract. Dilrosun: “I still wonder why they never signed me up. It took so long and I didn’t hear anything. I became impatient. Ouaali doesn’t want to go into it. He prefers to talk about the future, not the past.
Several clubs in Europe want to follow suit and offer the lad a contract. Man City is the first to fly him in and Patrick Viera, in charge of the City youth academy, shows the Amsterdam born around and explains the big plan they have with him. Dilrosun is convinced. He wants to be part of the City adventure. Master scout Piet de Visser (at 86 still working for Chelsea): “A lot of people think that City and Chelsea just throw money around to gobble up talent, but that is so not true. They really develop plans for all their youngsters and invest with purpose. They train at high level, they play 40 matches per season, get the chance to play in the cup competitions and when they reach a certain age they can train with the first team. People say that Chelsea and City are trading in players for profit but that is false. Whenever a player is unhappy and keen to leave the club, they are never blocked and always allowed to leave. Players like Van Aanholt, Bruma, Rekik and Ake will never be negative about their treatment, as they all landed really nicely, didn’t they?”
That is exactly the story Javairo will tell you. “It was tough at first. You feel alone and you are part of something big, which makes you feel small. I got injured too and that is even harder. But you do grow mentally, as well. The last year, I trained with the first team. Man, you make big jumps forward when you work with the likes of Aguero and Fernandinho and Kompany, I can tell you.”
Dilrosun is there when City breaks every record in England and sees how Pep the miracle worker is the catalyst of all that beauty. “Guardiola is special. Everything he says makes sense. He was always working with you, in my case, explaining how to use my speed and when, how to position myself, my running patterns, my first touch… everything. He is so good and he sees everything. And he taught me how to defend too, hahaha.”
But despite that and despite the fact that Pep wants his future Man City team to be build around a core of homegrown players, today City has 4 wingers who are valued at 230m euros. And these guys will play. Only three youth players were used by Pep last season and these lads played 106 minutes of the 10,260 minutes City players played (Foden, Diaz and Nmecha). Time for Javairo to go elsewhere and get some miles on the clock.
The fringe player of City is now a starter at Hertha. And every 100 minutes of football results in an assist or goal by the winger. And his lungs and legs also make him a weapon to contain the offensive full backs of the opponent. It was Dilrosun who kept Bayern’s Kimmich quiet in the duel vs Bayern.
Dilrosun is ambitious and he has every right to be that. Asked about his plans moving forward, he is clear. “I want to be important for Hertha and keep this up. I want to score 10 times this season and maybe have 10 assists. Obviously, I am ambitious, this is why I left Holland when I was 16 years old. I won’t make any rash statements now as I am prviliged to be here and happy to be here, but of course, eventually, I would love to play at European top level. And win trophies. I will do all I can to play for the likes of Bayern, or Barca, or Man City… That is the ultimate goal. And I want to play for Oranje. That is the Dream. And I want to deserve it too. I will never claim I am ready, that is for the coach to decide.”
A lot of youngsters who left Holland early cop a lot of criticism, as if they went for money. Dilrosun smiles. “I know some players didn’t make it. That is always sad, but I think it worked for me. I mean, I trained under Guardiola. That has made me a much better player, for sure. I am really ambitious and I am very focused. Now I am here and I have to demonstrate that I am not a fluke. And I will.”