“They often ask me why I’m not part of the Dutch team”

Saturday, April 16, 2022 at 9:45 p.m.• Mart Oude Nijeweeme • Last Updated: 10:02

With five games, Schalke 04 is on his way to the Bundesliga. The remaining matches of direct competitors Werder Bremen (number 2), St. Against Paul (number 3) and SV Darmstadt 98 (No. 4), the leader has everything in his hands. For Thomas Ouwejani, the fight for the title is special. The Dutchman has been hired from AZ and will have to be taken over if he rises to the highest level Royal Blues. Soccer zone visited the 25-year-old left wing defender in Gelsenkirchen and told him about the amazing number of supporters, saying goodbye to AZ and the Dutch national team.

By Mart Oude Nijeweeme

Anyone who joins Rudi-Assauer-Platz in Gelsenkirchen will soon notice that the gap between the Eredivisie and the 2nd Bundesliga is small. Given the large car fleet, it is almost inconceivable for a Schalke caliber club to play at a second level. Ouwejan has no claims to the assumptions either. The defender will drive in front of the Veltins Arena this afternoon with a flawless car. “We’re doing well, we can’t hear them complaining. It’s two and a half hours drive to Heilo, the village where I grew up. If I can, I’ll drive up and down.”

Ouwejan has become an integral part of Schalke’s defense. Since arriving from AZ last summer – he was loaned to Udines last year – he has had a firm place in the team. Under Dimitrios Grammozis, who was fired in March, Schalke always played with three midfielders and two rising defenders. “It’s the formation that works best for me,” says Ouwejan. “The new coach (Michael Büskens, ed.) Prefers to play with four defenders. But I can do it too. I’ve played over a hundred games for AZ as a left-wing defender. So no, I’m not afraid for my place.”

And why should Ouwejan. He is in many attacks with left-wing rushes traditional club worried. So far this season, he has scored three goals and scored eight assists. And to think that Veltins Arena is filled with sixty thousand spectators every two weeks. Ouwejan talks about it as if it doesn’t matter to him. “I really enjoy it. The home games here are really weird. It really gives a boost. When you go to the court to warm up, you hear the sound, I’ve rarely experienced it. De Kuip and Johan Cruijff ArenA are comparable, but I think it’s still here more extreme.

Due to an early dropout, Schalke quickly switched in view of the current season. Ouwejani was also interviewed early. The defender was still playing Serie As at the time, where he could have stayed. However, the videos sent to him and the good conversations with the management of the Schalke club made him think seriously. “I don’t always realize I’m playing in such a big club,” Ouwejan continues. “It comes in from time to time. In preparation, we were in a training camp in Austria. Then you’re in a small village with a few thousand fans next door. Then you realize it’s different than in the Netherlands or Udine.”

Watch an exclusive report with Thomas Ouwejan.

Ouwejan will not see the return of Alkmaar this summer anyway. Due to the cuts, Schalkel did not have the funds to finally take over the left leg from AZ, after which a lease with a mandatory call option was agreed. As he ascends to the Bundesliga, Ouwejan remains a top club in Germany. “If we’re promoted, if I don’t promote, I’ll have to talk to the club a lot and see what’s best for me. Ideally, I’m going to the Bundesliga with that club. “

The fact that Ouwejan does not want to return to AZ is linked to things that have happened in the past. The defender got on the bench last year and was kept inside despite the offers of several clubs. “I no longer feel bad about AZ. All the emotions have been there,” Ouwejan said. “I had a great time there. I’ve been there for thirteen years, since I was under 12. I’m sorry I didn’t leave there in a nice way. We both had our reasons for that. But it happened, we have to move on.”

Ouwejan had the opportunity to go to PSV, among other places. The Eindhoven people were interested in the winter of 2020, but saw how the AZ club’s management was stiff. This is not the case when selling players to a competitor in Alkmaar. “It was interesting, I would have liked it. These are beautiful steps, it would have been the perfect step for me. PSV is still a great club. Too bad it didn’t work out then. The fact is, AZ didn’t help completely.” While Ouwejan had strong competition from Owen Wijndal, PSV had much more left-wing opportunities.

A longer stay in the Netherlands could have led to Ouwejan appearing more frequently in the Dutch national team. Despite the good performance, the left foot believes that the 2nd Bundesligat is viewed in a certain way. “When I talk to the Dutch, I notice that they want to keep Eredivisie higher. We recently beat FC Utrecht’s base with Team B. We won Vitesse in preparation. I think the 2” Bundesliga is much stronger than Eredivisie, except for Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. Compared to the 2nd Bundesliga clubs with the Eredivisie clubs, the level is much higher here. “

The forthcoming call for Orange does not rule out Ouwejani. “They often ask me why I’m not with Orange. Are you qualifying or not?”, They’re asking. Well, not really. that I fit the system perfectly. ” But there has been no call from Van Gaal so far. “I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Then I think we should go to the Bundesliga first. This system is definitely good for me. But I can’t say much about it. will definitely be reviewed. “


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