Justin Kluivert: I want to shine!

Justin Kluivert spent time in The Netherlands during the Lockdown. This interview was done during the non-football period in Italy.

How are you?

Justin: “Until the Corona outbreak I was doing fine, particularly with my football. And you know me, when the football is good, my life outside of football is good too.”

Football as the benchmark?

“For me, yes. When you are happy in your football career it’s hard not to be happy outside of it, so yes. I played a lot before the lockdown and scored my goals. That seems to be key for most people, especially when you are playing abroad. People read the news headlines and you will come across in a positive way, when you score. So, that is good.”

Do you notice it in the streets too?

“Of course. When you scored the last game, people come up to you and congratulate you. And when you don’t score, they won’t. That is how it works. And I like reading stuff like “Kluivert saves AS Roma” or something. That sortathing works for you.”

You’re a young mama’s boy from Amsterdam. And there you went: as a 19 year old, to Rome!

“The first six months were all about adjusting. I only lived in Holland, with my mum. So big steps for me: leaving the club where I played all my life and leaving my mum behind.”

Were you lonely, in Rome, that first period?

“I don’t get lonely that easily, I am good at being alone. I am also a bit like: you signed for Roma, so no whining! I had a girl friend in Amsterdam but now I’m single again so literally alone. My mum visits often and I still have a little brother at school, so it’s a quiet life but it’s good. My first season in Rome, I didn’t want too many distractions.  I do get a lot of visitors so that is nice. My grandma flies down to Rome whenever she can. And my mum also helped by taking care of my home, she did the whole internal design thing, right how I like it. I have home here with a pool and many bedrooms for guests.”

Did you learn how to cook?

“Yes, I went to cooking school, hahaha. I cook for myself, no drama.”

Justin with mum Angela

So do you enjoy the life in Italy?

“Yes, the Italian vibe is top. Food is great, the weather is top, and I also use the Italian gestures now hahaha. One cappuccino for breakfast and then espresso shots. And on we go!”

Did you manage to be the tourist? Go to the Colosseum and all this?

“Football here is top class but the city of Rome is top as well. You can do so many things, we can go sailing or have lunch at the beach. I also visited the historic spots, but it’s like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam… It’s for the tourist. You don’t go to the Rijks every month, when you live in Amsterdam. And we will get recognised always, that is a drawback. Walking through the city is no problem, you don’t need to wear a hoodie or something. They do look at you and sometimes ask for a selfie. I always say yes. It takes 30 seconds. So what, right?”

Who are the team mates you hang out with here?

“I spent a lot of time with Rick Karsdorp and his family, before he left for Feyenoord. He tought me heaps of things here, and I have to be grateful for him for this. Kevin Strootman was top too but he left very early to Marseille. I am the only Dutchie now and the youngest too. Most of my team mates have kids and families etc. At Ajax, all the players were young and we were all mates. I knew most from the youth teams. Here it is different, but on the pitch I get along with all of them.”

With which Ajax players do you still talk?

“I talk to Hakim Ziyech every now and then. His move to Chelsea was to be expected, man what a season he had! I look forward to seeing him in the EPL. I app with Frenkie at Barcelona a lot, but everyone is busy. We’re all on our own trajectory.”

Mino Raiola is your agent. Does he help you by connecting you to strikers like Zlatan?

“Well, I have my dad to talk to right? But I was in Monaco one time with Mino and Balotelli and Zlatan were there too. We had lunch together, which was fun. I also speak to Mkhitaryan a lot. He came from Arsenal, and he is so smart. He always gives me little hints and tips. He wants me to shoot quicker, get the shot away. Don’t make that extra move or trick. And I talk with my cousin Marillo and with my brother. Marillo is my best mate.”

Like Abdelhak Nouri was a good mate too….

“Yes, a really special mate. We played together at Ajax but we’re still friends. I think about him a lot. And because of what happened, I learned to enjoy every single day. Don’t hang on to anger, that sorta thing. Life can be over, just like that. Now I live here in Rome, I don’t get to see Appie that often. I’ll be visiting him soon I hope, but I find it extremely difficult. So horrible…”

How important is your mum to you?

“Pfff how do you say that. I am always very happy to be with her. She means the world to me. I lived with her my whole life and whenever I have a decision to make, I call her. And she support me in everything. She wasn’t very stern or anything but always clear. And when she said her piece, I was like… Ok… that is how it will be. But she always was loving and warm. She likes to hug and still does.”

So after a good game, you think about her?

“Yes, of course. I also play for her, but also for my dad. I love it when he’s proud. And for my brothers too. I want to shine on the pitch. And they give me my motivations. My parents got divorced when I was still little and I don’t know different than being raised by my mum. But I missed nothing, don’t get me wrong. In the weekends I saw my dad. That is how it was. My mum is a strong woman, she made sure we were happy.”

Are you tearing up?

“No. Yes, well… a bit. I mean, I am not a cryer person, but I always get emotional talking about my mum. She is the most beautiful woman in the world for me. But everyone will say that about their mum, I hope.”

You are known to be a very positive and open lad, but also very polite?

“That is how she raised me. Just act normal, she would say. Be polite. She raised three boys by herself and that can’t be easy but she did ever so well. I think my bond with my brothers is strong because of her parenting. I have two younger brother, Dean is my mum’s and lives in Amsterdam and always wants to know everything about football and Shane is my dads and he lives in Barcelona with dad, who works for Barcelona. I call them a lot and we always go on holidays together.”

And your dad? What does he mean to you?

“My dad was my role model! I always hear i look like him and he is also chill like me. That is cool. He’s not just my dad, but also a football legend. I now experience a tiny bit of what he went through. And I can always ask him for advice. We talk daily on Facetime or Whatsapp. He can’t visit often, as he’s very busy at Barca but that is ok. I am used to not seeing him often but I love him dearly and we will spend more time in the future.”

Daley Blind once said: I think my surname means I will be judged even more than I actually should…” Do you recognise this? 

“Of course, Daley is right. With a famous dad who also played for Ajax, people do try and see similarities or want to compare and yes, they judge you. You got to learn to deal with this. I got that as well: “You only play at Ajax because your dad played here…”. I used to say: come and see me play this weekend! The surname motivated me to play even better. “Will you be that good?” people would ask me and I always said: I will have to answer that on the pitch. Shane in Barcelona is going through the same as me. He looks like me, also as a player. Not too big, plays on my spot and has the same way of playing. We speak daily. I try to coach him a bit and we reflect on the stuff we go through. It’s not easy to be compared to your dad all the time. But it’s not just about football of course…”

Last season, when Ajax was so impressive, did you ever thing: “I wish I was there”?

“Of course I would have want to experience that! Take Matthijs de Ligt! We’re the same age, we know each other since we were 12. I have a smile on my face when I see him play at that high level. It was strange to see them do all that, without me. I watched all there games, and when you saw them play, in the tough games, I’d think: Wow, this is not normal! But this is how things go. You take decisions and sometimes you look back and think…hmmm…. but I’m proud of them and of myself for taking the step I took.”

Patrick, Justin, Shane and Matthijs in Barcelona. 

So why did you go? Why leave Ajax so early in your career?

“I just wanted the adventure. I did ponder it for a long time. But AS Roma was very concrete, the money was there, they explained to me why they wanted me and I thought: wow… The Roma deal vs the Ajax deal… It just was a very good step for me. I am a satisfied guy. The question was: are you ready, but how do you ever know? You have to try. People said: you have to perform every week now! And I’m like: do you think that is different in Ajax?”

Did you get better, as a player and human being?

“That is it! I have. The power I have now, I didn’t have at Ajax. And living in Rome, well…. “

Justin didn’t get selected for the National Team, in the past periods of play, but just when Koeman picked Kluivert for the pre-squad in the run up to the Euros, the corona virus reared its ugly head.

“It’s totally shite that the Euros are postponed. I was focusing on that for a full year. That was my big goal. But I get it, this is bigger than football. Now it will be next season and I will work my ass off to get there.”

Do you talk to Koeman?

“Every now and then. He came specially to Italy to see me last season. And guess what: I was on the bench all game. And I thought: there goes my chance. But he sent me an app with some little comments and the final word: “you are on my radar”. That gave me energy. The coach will not just look at my goals, but goals are important. I played two matches under Koeman now. He is a very relaxed and good coach. His tactical talks are never longer than 12 minutes. He said himself, he never liked these long speeches. So suddenly he’d look at his watch and yell: “Ok, we’re ready!!!” We all had to laugh. He is very clear in what he wants, and you feel like “ok, this is what we will do”. He is a real leader.”

Do you talk to your dad a lot about your game?

“Oh sure. He watches all my games and sends me stats from all my matches. He has an app with he uses and can show me the # of ball contacts I had, how many passes reached my team mates, etc. That is very insightful. I am personally not that analytical, I just play my game. I also don’t like tactics, I really need the freedom to play and be free in my head.”

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    1. Eitherway it should not be forgotten he has proven himself at Serie A level and at Roma and as I always say it not easy for players when you have coaches changing every now and then as their peference changes with respect to what he demands.

  1. Not a great day for the Dutch players in the Bournemouth v. LC match. Groeneveld started. Looked tentative and unsure, played like someone who looked like either he had no confidence or was thinking too much about his instructions Zero impact on the game, except that he made a terrible backpass that Vardy jumped on, and Ake was injured straining to break up the goal scoring opportunity. Groeneveld was subbed at HT. Hopefully, he will have better days ahead. He needs a reset.

    With the injury, I’m guessing that Ake has played his last game for Bournemouth. He’ll move on to a much bigger club. As bad a season as they have had, he has been very good.

    Kluivert has looked good in the games I’ve seen him play this year. Hope this little dust up is nothing more than a blip.

    1. Agree on arnaut danjuma’s performance. It was a bad day in office for him but still given Eddie howe started him ahead of Jason Stanislas and David Brooks in a crucial must win match shows that he is fully aware of his potentially where as he was unused sub last weekend vs Tottenham.

      It hasnt been a smooth ride for him either getting injured in the pre season and than a major foot injury which had him sidelined for almost 6 months. Once again what he showed at NT level and in champions league with club brugge, there is no doubt adpoting to PL will take more time given how things have unfolded for him. Its also not only him but others as well. They big guns like Callum Wilson also looks to be out of form especially after the lockdown and is struggling in front of the goal. Then on the other hand Dominic solanke, after almost 2 season seems to have woken up scoring twice after 39 games and what a time to do it. The only consistent player imo for them has been Ake and its sad to hear he will miss the reminder of the games for Bournemouth.

      This is an interview Danjuma gave on how it has unfolded so far for him and you can feel the emotions in it in context to his self expectation. This is why I rate this guy highly


      Im really hoping bournemouth avoids relegation and with it danjuma getting lost in championship. They have good chance though and it might not be decided till the last match day, coming down to the wire with Aston Villa,West Ham,Watford and bournemouth all fighting for survival.

      Bournmouth have Man city up next which I dont think they will win and then southampton and everton which could go either way.

      Watford has west ham up next which will be a very crucial game for both teams and then city and Arsenal.

      West Ham again Watford up next and then Man united and Aston Villa on last match day which also could be the do or die game for both teams

      Villa has a everton next up and then Arsenal and west ham rapping things up.

      Nail baiter…..

      1. @Wilson,

        I wasn’t drawing any conclusions about Danjuma from the game, I was just noting a difficult day for both him and Ake. Silly to judge a player—for good or bad—off one performance. I don’t put his intermittent appearances on Howe, though; in watching their games since the restart, there is good reason that Brooks and Stanislas have played ahead of him. The article you attached is helpful. (Thank you.) As I said, he looks like he needs a reset—maybe the break between seasons will be enough. Next year looks like it will be huge for him.

  2. Lets Review Marteen De Roon at Atalanta who have been a resurgent team after the lockdown.they had an exceptional season in CL and await PSG in the quaters and are also on 10 games winning streak in serie A including 2-2
    Draw against juventus few weeks back in which they were robbed via two controversial penalities. Infact they havnt lost since serie A started after the lockdown.

    To be honest its really hard to call on how tatically good he is. If you look at the Atalanta team itself every player perfectly fits into the 3-4-3 setup deployed by Gasperini, but by far pappu gomez has been their most underrated player and Josip llicic next who both are the main orchestras of the team with Muriel and Zapata deputazing each other up front.both strikers have scored a staggering 33 goals between them with llicic next with 15 goals.

    For De Roon there aint much stats on him but still on a bright site he is considered as one of the key players for the Atalanta side and like Gini at Liverpool,sit back and execute what is required of him. Though they play in different position and formation, both keep rovering up and done. Im not saying they are same type of players but how they roles are simlilar. Like wijnaldum I again dont see De Roon capable of pulling higher strings especially in high tempo games. The CL fixture vs city, him including the whole team collapsed. You could argue here of the quality of city compared to them but then his spell in epl with Fulham was not as spectacular either. Propper? The serie A tempo suits him but then what happens if on other occasions it doesnt suit him?

      1. Hahaha glad you bring this up

        First of all , I’m not sure if fosuh mensah is actually good enough for oranje . I think he got great potential and he is just 22 right now

        As a right back , it seems he can also play in the left back position, which we have blind and van aanholt right now .

        So if you ask me now , I think if he gets fit and keep improving , koeman will definitely get him on the list .

        Who knows one day he can prove himself is better than all the right / left back we currently have right now

  3. I am going to post an interview with Jerdie Schouten soon, who made his way in 3 years from lowly Telstar (after having been sent away by ADO Den Haag ) and who was man of the match vs Inter recently for Bologna. A real #6, Jorginho style.

    1. I wouldnt say Jorginho but yes a real no 6.his tackling is furious, van bommel typo. I have been following him at Bologna for sometime now. Had a slow start but now features regularly. Currently injured. I also read Bologna is tracking Jorrit hendix of psv. Would add to the contingent amongst dijks and denswil and him. A very underrated midfielder.

  4. While Ajax are looking active in the transfer window topping up artillery after depatures,AZ seems to be very quiet.the only signing they have done is a third choice GK. I think Slot should look at some major signings to stand a chance again against ajax and in europe. Even though eredivisie was halted, they were looking fully stretched coming towards the end and after the elimination from the europa.they also dropped few points as well if im not wrong. I think they need another good striker that can deptuize boadu ,an upgrade to dani di wit in the attacking mid and CB.

    Ajax have signed Marteen Stekelenberg (everton),Mohammed Kudus(FC Nordsjaelland) and Antony (sao Paulo), they will also welcome back Neres from long term injury and Noa lang finishing his loan from FC Twente. Kik Pierie mean while has been sent on loan to FC Twente which is a good move for him given he wasted the last sesson playing for Jong Ajax.

    AZ Forever where are you mate?

  5. Memphis also scored his first goal for lyon after recovering from the ACL injury.this was in a frendly prep for the upcoming CL second leg vs juventus. Tete also featured off the bench.

  6. Bad news for Groeneveld danjuma and Ake. Bournmemoth are the now second team to be relegated from the epl after lossing to southmpton which was a must win game for them to remain in contention for survival. Hope both get offers from new clubs so that they keep playing at competitive level.

    1. Ake will get offers from other team for sure. There is rumor that Solksjaer wanted him. Danjuma shoulg go to other league, he was injured a lot there and PL teams will not give him time to recover or develop. He was clearly not ready for PL.

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