Tag: Lyon

Memphis Depay: Downs and Ups

After a disappointing week for Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord in Europe, we can look forward to an interesting weekend, with Ajax-Feyenoord on the cards. Although it will most likely be a walk-over for Ajax, as Feyenoord is really lost, it seems.

Some comments: PSV should have won their EL match, hitting the woodwork twice and having so much possession. Feyenoord…what to say. Unlucky with the second penalty (I don’t think it was a foul) but that first handling of the ball by Ie?? Really dude???

Ajax was robbed! The photo clearly shows the VAR fukced up! How bad is this! Millions of dollars / euros are involved and they simply can’t pick the proper still. Un-believable!!

Left is the image used by the VAR, right is the image they should have used

AZ is holding our honour high, as we say. AZ played like Ajax normally played. Focused, with grit, with gusto and desire. Forechecking and with quality. I really think every single player in the team is top notch, except for Dani de Wit. I never really saw his value. He’s just average in every department. He does have a strong physique and runs a lot. Reminds me of Davy Klaassen.

Also good to mention here (as we do have some Bazoer fans) that after 4 clubs, Vitesse is now also considering kicking him out. The youngster has a tremendous ego and the mentality of a thug. Two weeks ago, he kicked an opponent in the face, but got away with it. This week, he picked a fight with Jay-Roy Grot and threatened to fukc him up after training. When Slutsky  interfered, he said: “Fuck off, I don’t even want to play for your stupid team!”. Vitesse is considering next steps now.

He’s trouble, he’s toxic, he’s full of himself and can forget about his career.

The man on the rise now, is the guy who was criticized for so long in the country, in Manchester and for a while, here too. Memphis Depay. The new skipper of Olympique Lyon.

He plays and played a vital role in Holland ressurrection. Yes, Virgil our fearless leader. Yes, Frenkie our gifted playmaker. But you need someone who delivers the goods upfront: goals and assists. Memphis (25) is the new figure head and attacking leader of the Dutch: “Yes man, you really want to be part of this!”

This is everything Memphis stands for in Orange. It all happened in one minute: result, honour, team, desire, fighting spirit. His goal in injury time vs Northern Ireland, his second of the night. The explosion of joy, his team mates around him, Memphis acknowledging the man with the assist (Frenkie) and then the Memphis stance: standing still, fingers in his ears and eyes to the heavens. And he yelled out to the fans: “This is what fighting looks like!”

The last international game (for now) vs Belarus, he couldn’t play due to a slight injury. But he was standing next to the team on telly, singing the anthem, with his right arm around his tv screen. Being part of it all.

Memphis is happy at Oranje. No more tension, no more awkward moments. Every since Koeman took the coaching job, Oranje got rejuvenated and Memphis was the ultimate personification of that. Personally, he entered a period of peace, of balance. And on the pitch, Memphis is turning into a leader. The proponent of the New Wave. Tense interviews are a thing of the past. And no one cares what kind of headware he is sporting.

It’s a interaction between player and fans, between player and coach and between private and profession. “I am doing well, personally, and it translates to the field. The results help of course. But the vibe in the Dutch camp is incredible. We are all mates and we created this, on purpose, with a mission. And we also keep track of each other when we’re at the club. We really care about each other. We have the group app and we find each other there. Talk about life, about the games we played and the stuff we experience. This, we need to keep in tact.”

“We are building something with this Dutch team. And we put a lot of positive energy into it. And even if it doesn’t work at club level, we all come to the NT with positive mindset. I’m really happy to come to the Dutch camps and it reflects in the performances.”

Team building and clarity are two core values Ronald Koeman applies. From day 1 he stressed: we need everyone! There will be no dominant egos in my squad. Yes, the squad as a variety of types, personalities, backgrounds and stories, but the mission is the same. After two missed major tournaments, we want to get back to the top. Koeman created consistency in his selections and in the playing style and we’re seeing pretty decent results now.

Memphis didn’t have a great time at Lyon, until now, with new coach Garcia handing him the captains band. Before that, Memphis never knew what the coach wanted from him this time. Koeman never worried. “Memphis is super strong, mentally. And whenever he had issues at Lyon or the results weren’t there, he would show his quality in Oranje. And it’s not just because he scores for us, his overall game is top. You always miss those types of players.”

In the first hour vs Northern Ireland, Memphis had it tough. His mates weren’t able to reach him and if they did in those compact spaces, he was fighting with the ball. It did resemble the semi finals vs England in Portugal, when he was struggling but still ended up with two assists. Against Northern Ireland, Koeman moved him to the left flank where there was more space for him and he paid it back with two goals.

When a junior, at PSV, he used to tell his coaches: don’t sub me, even if I’m playing bad. Because he always had it in him to decide a game. That cocktail of quality and confidence is demonstrated in Oranje regularly. In all 17 international games he was available, he played. He only got subbed ones, in the friendly against Portugal (3-0).

Koeman likes to use players in combinations. A combination that works well in Oranje is the tandem Memphis – Wijnaldum. “Our partnership is authentic,” Gini Wijnaldum says. “We learned to play together at PSV and we always try to create space for one another. We constantly monitor each other movements, so we can benefit from it. We don’t talk, it’s all about observing. The mutual understanding is key, that is what makes a team tick or not.”

And while Oranje looked light in recent years with our offensive players (Vincent Janssen, Bas Dost, Steven Berghuis, Anwar El-Ghazi) today, we are seeing more and more world class talents emerge, in Gakpo, Danjuma, Dilrosun, Bergwijn and of course Donyell Malen. Memphis on Malen: “Donyell is a fantastic talent, with fine technique and blistering speed. And he can score goals! Donyell is now taking that next step, from a promising talent to a player on which you can build. It’s great to see that process develop. I’m proud of him and happy for him.”

Memphis is creating friendships in life and in Oranje. Quincy Promes has been a close mate for many years. “I’m so happy how Promes is doing at Ajax. I knew it would come. People always put pressure on new signing, look at Hazard at Real Madrid. Some players are ready for their new role, because of the fit… Like Frenkie at Barca, and some players need to find their spot. But good players will always emerge. I never worried about Quincy. He’s strong mentally and he believes in himself. Most if not all internationals are playing so well. We work hard and we realise quality alone is not enough. It’s quality and mentality. It’s great to be part of it man, it’s really amazing to be part of this!”

This year, Memphis is the first international in this century to have an involvement in 14 Oranje goals (6 goals and 8 assists). With two more international games this year, he might add more to this list. In the 18 months under Koeman Memphis was involved with 21 of the 38 goals! Second on the list is Gini Wijnaldum, with 7 goals and 2 assists. Oranje had 114 shot on goal in those 18 matches. 45 of these were Depay’s (40%). And in the list of created chances, Memphis leaves his colleagues far behind him.

Memphis in Oranje

Aspect Before Koeman Under Koeman*
International games 34 17
Goals 8 11
Assists 7 10
Shots per 90 minutes 3,4 4,5
Shots on target per 90 minutes 1,6 2,6
Chances created per 90 minutes 1,8 3,1
Dribbles per 90 minutes 5,7 3,8
Successful dribbles per 90 minutes 2,9 2,2
Touches in the box per 90 minutes 3,8 6,4

*Since 23 March 2018


Other forwards with Wijnaldum under Koeman

Wijnaldum Babel Promes Bergwijn Malen
International games 16 16 15 9 4
Goals 7 4 3 0 1
Assists 2 1 2 1 1
Shots* 2,0 1,8 2,6 1,4 3,0
Shots on target* 1,0 1,0 0,9 0,3 1,3
Chances created* 1,0 0,7 1,9 2,3 2,2
Dribbles* 2,2 1,8 1,7 3,7 3,0
Successful dribbles* 1,3 1,1 1,1 2,7 1,7
Touches in the box * 3,3 2,8 3,0 4,0 9,0

*Per 90 minutes

Bookmark and Share

Stars missing the WC: Memphis

It hurts when I see Sweden advance even further into the World Cup. It hurts bad. With all the “heavy hitters” going home early, imagine what we could have achieved…

And with Messi, CRonaldo, Muller and others leaving the tournament so soon, it does make you wonder: who will be the man of the tournament? Let’s hope it’s not Neymar! And surely, not Kane? He will win the Golden Boot I think, and he’s an amazing striker but don’t we need just a tad more from the “Best Player” of the tournament?

I miss Memphis even more now…

He rewarded himself with a crucial hattrick on the last day of the season in France, for a tremendous season. It seems as if he keeps on going from strength to strength ever since he was given the “free role” at Lyon and in Oranje.

VI Pro visited him in Lyon at the end of the season. Memphis and Bertrand Traore are mulling about in the sun. Their practice session just ended. And the two are now just watching the training of the youth team of Lyon. They’re both football fanatics. And they’re in heaven, as Olympique Lyon has talent coming up the gazoo!

Memphis points to a massive central defender he likes. Traore is giggling like a girl when a certain pass and move session is executing in high speed. Memphis: “Players tend to hang around here, at Lyon. The vibe is good and it smells like football here.”

Memphis likes it like that. Usually, he’s the first to come in for practice. A bit of jest with the door men and then a good solid breakfast before the games begin. And as the French do it: he shakes the hands of everyone at the venue. Every player does, every morning again. Whether it’s another team mate, or the kit man or some visiting reporter from Holland. It sort of resembles the mentality at PSV Eindhoven. Where top sports and casualness meet. And sometimes, that goes well hand in hand.

When Memphis drives out of the complex later that day, the chaos starts. A group of fans wants his autograph, or a picture. He drops his window, signs balls, jerseys and cameras click. And the question is the same: “Memphis, will you stay at Lyon?”. Because 19 goals and 13 assists…it does count. Even C Ronaldo had less involvements (31) than Memphis.

For Memphis, it all starts with peace, quiet and fun. He needs to enjoy the game and life. Two months ago, it all came together. He does have peace of mind ever since the Christian faith became prominent in his life. And freedom he got on the pitch, when Ronald Koeman gave him the free role in a 2 mans forward line (with Ryan Babel).  It allowed him to use his specific qualities in optimum form. More than being pushed out to the left. Bruno Genesio, his Lyon coach, happened to be at the match in Geneva and made notes. He saw how Memphis enjoyed himself and scored. Florian Maurice was there as well. He’s Lyon’s head scout. He tells Genesio how he saw this before. Some 8 years ago when Maurice was watching young PSV in Eindhoven. And a 16 year old Memphis Depay played as #10 behind the striker. Memphis: “It’s true, in the junior teams, I used to play as shadow striker and in a free role, I do think I am at my best. And Maurice remembered this.”

This is not unlike Arjen Robben, who played playmaker in youth teams but was banished to the left wing when he made it into FC Groningen’ first team. To protect him from challenges but the youngster ended up playing there for years.

When Memphis returned to Lyon, the Lyon technical staff immediately made the call. Striker Diaz was suspended so coach Genesio had his team practice this new formation. And then it all happened. And not just a bit.

First of all, with a front line of three. With Memphis as central striker. He scored twice vs Toulouse. “That was good, it was fun, but I am not a striker who remains in the spot. I want to be able to roam and move around, find space. That is when my skills are utilised best: my creativity, explosivity and goal scoring.”

After the Toulouse game, Genesio goes for a diamond in midfield and two up top. Against Metz, Memphis had four assists and one goal. A week later, Memphis was the shadow striker and again: one goal and one assist, vs Amiens. When Fekir returned fit, Genesio used Traore and Memphis up front, with Fekir as #10. And Memphis kept on scoring. In April, he was voted Player of the Month. Memphis now: “That month, that is how I want to play always. Every match, I want to be dangerous, threatening and successful, I want the permanent flow.”

And it’s not just the stats that tell the story. It’s visible on his face, in his body language. He seemed liberated, compared to the straightjacket Memphis we saw at Man United. He’s constantly open to receive, he will work and make dummy runs, he can use his special trickery when needed. “When I started here, I was a sort of left midfielder. I had to work the whole flank. When the ball was on the other flank, I had to drop deep, almost like a wing back. My playing field was 70 meters long. And when that happens, you kill a number of my specific qualities. I can’t be explosive over 70 meters. I didn’t get the ball too often, I had to work much more without the ball and that took so much energy that my specific attacking yield was lower than ever. It confined me. And I need to be free to express myself. And yes, I want to work and I want to do my bit, but my team contribution is greatest when I can follow my intuition. Without limitation. Floating, roaming, hunting for space, making my actions and be a threat.”

Even as a left winger, he had his periods this season where he was unstoppable. He scored 7 goals in 7 games in the fall of 2017. With a hattrick vs Troyes. But after that series, he had a dry spell of six games. Until that night vs Paris St Germain. He started on the bench. “I was so pissed off that I didn’t play. I want to play every match but in particular the big ones. But God told me to keep quiet. To go with it. And to be ready. I was convinced something special would happen.”

In the second half, Memphis was needed to come in. Aouar came off, and Memphis started his predatory role. And in injury time, he got what he wanted. Just outside the box, Fekir fed him the ball. Memphis dribbled inside and let fly: a rocket in the top corner. The Groupama Stadium exploded. Memphis: “Obviously, scoring the winner is sensational. Scoring the winner vs PSG even more so. Scoring the winner like this, even more so… But for me, it was super special due to the message I received that morning. My relationship with God pushed me to a higher level. I felt the ultimate gratitude…”

And there were more high points. Memphis mentions two. His goal at home vs Villareal (3-1) in the knock out stage of the Europa League. Another rocket in the corner from 20 meters out. And he also determines the match vs Ol Marseille (2-3). Again as a sub coming on, with a header in the top corner in the final stages of the game. The start of a mighty final sprint, allowing Lyon to win eight games in a row.

But, it did seem the season would end in a little disaster. In the away game vs Strasbourg, a 2-1 lead went up in smoke. And just when Strasbourg scored the winner in the dying minutes, Monaco – Lyon’s rival – scored the winner vs St Etienne.

The unexpected loss in Strasbourg put maximum pressure on the last match of the season. In that match, in Lyon vs Nice, it seemed to go totally wrong. Both Monaco and Olympique Marseille were leading, while Lyon was trailing 0-1 at half time. Qualifications for the Champions League would be out of reach and a financial disaster for Olympique Lyon was looming. And then, Memphis stepped up. With  cool hattrick, Depay opened the door for Lyon to the billionaire’s ball. The first was a tap in, assist by Fekir. The second a shrewd free kick, under the wall. And the third a nice little chip. In the last 9 matches, Memphis scored 10 goals and had 7 assists. Depay rescues Lyon, the headlines screamed. The typical Memphis with two fingers in ears was the picture. Depay’s way of saying: I only listen to God!

The times that Memphis could be bothered about what others said about him are now behind him. “I compare it to the food you eat, if you would eat the criticism, the good or the bad, you would never get well. I mean, in good times, I ate sweets and in bad times I ate bitter… In both situations, you get a stomach ache. I don’t read it anymore. Not interested. And man, it gives me peace and quiet. I am now 24 years old, I want to play another 10 year at top level without the baggage of all the crap.”

He continues: “You know, the WC Brazil, people revered me, adored me. Everything was cool and now we missed the WC in Russia and I am crap and can’t play football. As if it was all due to me? And when I wear a hat, I’m criticised, when I drive a Rolls Royce, I’m criticised. I’m the role model of bad performances. I had to learn not to take any of it seriously.”

Memphis is enjoying his time with Oranje now. “The current developments are really positive. There is this feeling that we can actually achieve something. And we need each other, that bond, you notice it. During the matches, but also during the sessions in practice. In Noordwijk, you could all do what you pleased, all by yourself. When we are in Zeist, it’s more a common thing. We seem to spend more time together. We play more games together, it’s more fun.

And Memphis now has a team manager he knows a bit better. Koeman tried to lure Memphis to Everton. But, that’s all in the past now. Depay: “Sure, we had a good talk a year and a half ago, but that doesn’t count. I will need to demonstrate my value day in day out. When Van Gaal signed me for Man United, he told me the same thing. I know you, I worked with you, but you won’t get any privileges. But it helps when there is a click. And I think I have that with Koeman. He is clear in what he wants and he is a real inspiration.”

Oranje played four games under Koeman. “Against England, it wasn’t good enough. We know this. We were a bit too fearful on the ball. We needed to get used to the new system, the new way of working. And England is a top opponent of course. But, we should have done better, all of us. We are still a big football nation, we need to be ballsy and show confidence. We do need to be at every big tournament. Period! We do have enough quality. We now need to finetune this and make sure we utilise the qualities and cover up the weaknesses. Based on a compact defense we can be quite devastating in attack. We have strong defenders, good and quick offensive full backs, we have smart midfielders, all the ingredients to get the results. We did so vs Portugal. And now we need to keep on going.

Memphis still have 3 years on his deal with Lyon. When Lyon Chairman Aulas was interviewed, with Memphis standing next to him, he was asked how much Lyon would ask for him when Madrid came calling for Memphis. Aulas said: “Memphis won’t leave.” And Memphis just stared into the camera….

Both were main characters in another comedy sketch at the end of the season. Chairman Aulas again, this time alone in front of the cameras, saying: “Memphis is exceptional, a player who works hard and wants to do everything his coach asks from him.” At that point, Memphis walked past with the match ball and he placed both his finger Memphis-style in the chairman’s ears.

Memphis: “God will help me climb mountains of which I myself don’t know the height…” And asked about where he is at in his life and career, he said: “I am happy now with who I am. That is all. I am a wild boy with peace in his head. It feels good.”

Bookmark and Share

Memphis, most scoring left winger in Europe

It took less than a year in the Ligue 1 for Memphis Depay to become one of the key players in France. Although his image might not always be too positive in the Netherlands. It’s time to analyse how he managed to resurrect his career with Olympique Lyon.

If one hears something repeated often enough, it will become the perceived reality. This applies to all these Dutch football fans and pundits claiming that Arjen Robben can never be replaced in Oranje and we – Holland – currently do not have any top quality players anymore.

Strangely enough, the most threatening left winger in the five Top Leagues in Europe (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1) is actually a Dutch player. It’s also the most critiqued player of Oranje of the past years: Memphis Depay.

Usually, the news items are about the hats he wears, the messages he puts on Instagram, the car he drives, the tattoos on his body or the rap songs he produces. This all doesn’t take into acount the amazing comeback he made to the top as OL player. In Lyon, Depay seems to have recovered from his failed adventure at Man United. The playing style of Lyon could well be the blue print for the plan Oranje needs to execute. The effectiveness of Depay in that system of Les Gones seems to be a worthy aim, as Oranje is looking for new leaders of the line.

Memphis Depay’s stats versus all left wingers in the Top 5 European Leagues, 2017/18:

Goals: 8 1st
Directly involved in goals (goals + assists): 11 3rd
Shots per match: 2,1 26st
Scorings percentage shots: 29.6% 1st*

* Only taking into account players with more than one shot on goal per match

The year and a half Memphis played for Manchester United, in hindsight, can be seen as the perfect storm of what could go wrong for a young lad at a big club. He came in with a huge weight of expectations on his back, not helped by the Jersey #7. Van Gaal immediately gave Depay a starting berth in a team that the coach couldn’t get to dazzle. In the first season of energy-less games, Memphis was instructed to put more energy in his defensive game, while the slow ball circulation meant he was usually facing two opponents. Having to stick to the byline, Depay usually was one of the last players in the tedious build-up to receive the ball, not having any space or time for the creative element of surprise. All things he never had to cope with at PSV. And to put insult to injury, on the last transfer day, Man United signed French super talent Martial for 60 mio euros, a direct rival for the left wing. In two years, the coach who signed him was told to leave and Jose Mourinho came in. He demands more physical and tactical discipline of his players and more defensive duties of his wingers. Not a game plan Memphis would thrive in.

He gave his football management the instruction to find him a team inwhich he could excel. They went to SciSports and asked the statisticians to do the work. Olympique Lyon was on the top of their advisory list and Lyon signed him for 16 mio euros. Lyon was a club where the two wingers are free to roam, free to express themselves and are relatively free of defensive duties. After one year, it’s clear to see why this club suits Memphis.

Coach Genesio uses the 4-2-3-1. And Depay gets the space to do what he does well, explosive runs from outside to inside, preparing his killer right foot for a hammer blow. In the final third of the pitch, Memphis hardly ever plays close to the by-line. The left channel is the territory of a forward thundering left wing back or shadow striker Nabil Fekir drifts to the left to use that space.

Defensively, Depay does not have a tough job. Lyon will drop in, back to 4-4-2 and Depay does need to track back to his defensive position, but apart from forward pressurising when Lyon lost possession, there aren’t a lot of other defensive tasks for him. Last weekend, against Nice, Lyon scored 5 goals. As Fekir was not available, Lyon went back to 4-3-3 in possession and 4-5-1 when they lost possession. Four of the five goals (two by Memphis) were made out of quick turnaround moments, from defence to offence. Whenever Nice had the ball on their left flank, it was clear what Memphis’ job was. Being ready to break once Lyon took possession back.

Memphis, positionally defending but ready to pounce

This season, coach Genesio has four explosive forwards. And with destroyer Gonalons off to AS Roma, Lyon plays a little bit mor passive this season. Happy to give the ball to the opponent at times. Lyon had 59% and 57% possession on average, in the last two seasons. This season, the average is closer to 50%. This shift to a more counter-attacking style fits the team and in particular the explosive Depay. Combine this with the fact when Lyon does have the ball, the left winger is able to show up in time in the danger areas, and it is clear to see how he reaches the level again where he left off at PSV.

It also helps that Memphis is playing next to one of the best false strikers of Europe: Nabil Fekir. The French international is in the form of his life and scored eleven goals in as much matches and had 4 assists. Fekir’s qualities are well-known: great dribbler and a devastating shot.

But with Depay being overly right-footed, Fekir is a southpaw and as a result likes to drift to the left flank, enabling him to cross the ball in with his left. Depay uses this with glee, using the space vacated by Fekir to play in the #10 role.

Memphis coming inside, with Fekir drifting to the left

Fekir also likes to move up to become the central striker, which is possible because striker Diaz has the speed and control to play on the flanks as well. This dynamic triangle – with Fekir as #9, Depay as #10 and Diaz on the left – can be seen often in Lyon games.

The positional freedom Depay has in the Lyon system is the exact opposite of the straightjacket tactics of ManU’s Van Gaal, who instructed his players to remain in certain areas of the pitch and never to cross over. This style can easily be adopted by Oranje, as we also have quite multi-functional attackers in Promes, Babel and Berghuis.

Another positive aspect to Depay’s game is that he has tremendously improved in the two areas where he spoke of in an interview in 2014. The 20 year old back then said his initial pre-action needs to improve and his running in behind without the ball needs to get better. Two aspects he clearly worked on.

Memphis playing the #10 role

“Guus Hiddink and Phillip Cocu think I need to be more alternating in my pre-actions. I need to be more focused. For instance, I should be able to spot the ball coming to me, 10 seconds earlier. The ball comes in my direction, my team mate opens up his body, I can read that he’ll play me in. I need to move before this happens and make my opponent nervous. I used to be static on the byline. Receiving the ball into my feet and then I’d make the action. By making the right initial move, I should be able to stretch the defence.”

Goals Assists Shots Dribbles Chances created
2013/14: 0,4 0,23 5,4 3,4 2,9 7,4%
2014/15: 0,77 0,18 5,7 2,8 2,1 13,6%
Manchester United
2015/16: 0,12 0,12 3,5 1,3 0,5 3,4%
Olympique Lyon
2016/17: 0,41 0,57 3,8 3,3 2,6 10,8%
2017/18: 0,75 0,28 2,5 1,9 1,9 29,6%

In Lyon, Memphis demonstrates to have this down pat. In the match vs St Etienne he scores a goal with the exact same pre-action as his first goal vs Troyes, only two weeks earlier. Depay starts on the right flank when Lyon’s counter starts, but makes his way diagonally to the left. When Fekir playes the ball to the right, to Aouar, Depay will pass a defender’s back and move to the left. He knows the defender will be startled and will turn towards his own goal to sprint back to cover Memphis. When the defender takes his eye off him, in that turn, Memphis takes the opportunity to move away and create space for the shot on goal with his right, whenever the ball gets to him.

He also said in the 2014 interview that national team manager Van Gaal insisted on more depth in his runs. Today, Depay seems to be aware of the damage his speed can do to an opponent’s defence. Diaz and Depay were up against 6 opponents at the half way line, but when he gets the ball and full speed the four Troyes defenders are helpless against the finishing of the left winger.

Memphis moving from central to the left flank away from the defender in behind

Some players make huge steps when they get to a bigger club. Leroy Sane at Man City, Mo Salah now at Liverpool… This usually happens when they realise they can be threatening and useful without the ball as well. It seems Depay reached this point now as well. And he’s only 23 years old, which means he has the 5 or 7 best years of his career ahead of him. So we best get used again, to the moniker “Memphis Depay, world class player” soon. And watching him play for Lyon is a joy, indeed.

Enjoy some snippets of an interview from last month, from Simon Zwartkruis, October 2017.

Memphis: “So tell me honestly, do you write 24 hours per day? No, right? Well, I have a life besides my work as well. I enjoy fashion, I like posting on Instagram, I love nice cars. What’s wrong with that? But people see that and don’t seem to see how honoured and priviliged and blessed I feel to play for my country.”

“As a boy, I fell in love with football and that will never go away. That passion is the core for me. Practice, laughing with the lads, prepping for a game, getting the best out of yourself, nothing is more beautiful than that. And I do know that at pro level, other aspects count. Of course. Football is number 1 for me and will always be. But the judgements people have about me, are about more than football. Some people don’t get me. But what is so wrong what I do? I’m 23 years old, I’m growing as a human. We all do right?”

“I’m a positive guy. And I believe I can influence my life in a positive way. But the things I do outside of football aren’t regarded as positive. I don’t really care, but it surprises me. I am focused on football and my career, no one needs to doubt that. But there’s other things that make my happy. I’m not a pro player 24 hours per day. And it’s different for every one. But when I’m happy, I perform better. I go full throttle at practice.”

“And when I’m free in my head, my game is freed up. It’s actually good for my career, all these things I do. If I would live like a hermit, I’d be unhappy. And that is also top sports: to find the modus that works for you. I treat my body as my temple, I rest a lot. But I still have time for other stuff. Like a musician isn’t always making music, right?”

“It will also have to do with my background. I’m a street kid. My family was always in survival mode. I love nice things now, as I wasn’t used to it. And in the neighbourhood I grew up in, all lads were little “bosses”. We needed to find our way. And some kids came out wrong. Some went the criminal path. Others worked with their talents. And when you do this, whether its sports or music, you need to invest in yourself first. Some kids from the street opt for the quick and easy money. But I never walk alone. God is with me. That is how I am raised. My trust in my faith is huge. And I’m blessed. I grew up in the jungle, and that is a huge contrast to where I am now and where I want to go to.”

After a failed stint at Man United, Memphis found his happiness with Olympique Lyon. “It was a conscious decision to go there. It wasn’t happening for me at Man United. I was more involved in defensive actions that in the attack. Now, I am free to perform my actions, which is my strength. I play on intuition, I can’t perform well with a list of chores on my back. But I do look for the balance and it’s getting better and better.”

When he’s confronted with his excellent stats this year, he frowns. “It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. I demand more. People say I’m too critical and I might be, but I know what I am able to do. I want to be the best. And I’m not, at the moment. But stats don’t tell the full story. I could play a disastrous match but still score twice. It doesn’t tell me too much. Look at our campaign to qualify for the World Cup: I scored three goals and had an assist in four matches. Decent stats. But I wanted to have more contribution than that. And I look in the mirror. It’s up to me to prove my worth also in Oranje.”

With Oranje, most people hope and expect that the mid 20 year old and older players will take the reigns: Blind, Wijnaldum, Strootman, De Vrij, Van dijk and – the only forward in the list- Memphis Depay. “I want to be important in this new stage. We need to create a more positive vibe around Oranje. We are in a tough spot now and we don’t have the quality we had – say – 7 or 4 years ago. We have lots of young players and we need the support. But I see glory for Oranje again. We will need to build a strong team and with the support of the nation, we can build something beautiful again.”

Bookmark and Share