You have been playing in some interesting and great clubs, such as AZ, Ajax, Spartak Moscow and Anderlecht. What is your greatest experience as a football player and person?
All these clubs were great but the best experience I had was with Ajax on 15-5-2011 when we were crowned champions. The atmosphere for two weeks before the game was very special and I will never forget that moment. It was a moment that you dreamt about when you were a kid. Also playing in the semi-final against Uruguay in the World Cup was a great experience, even though I only played 45 minutes because of the kick to my face. Playing in Russia was a great adventure and good for me on a personal level, although living in Russia was hard and I learnt a lot about life in a short space of time.
In your career you had many interesting managers, such as Martin Jol, Marco van Basten and others. What was the most important thing you learned from them? Who was the best manager you ever had and why?
I learned something from every manager, but for me Louis van Gaal, Frank de Boer and John van den Brom are the coaches who really taught me football. Details are so important at this level and they are great in that respect. Martin Jol was really good in managing the team and focusing on big games.
Are you a footballler and want to take the next step in your career?
Many young & aspiring players are dreaming to reach your level of playing. What’s your advice for them – beside, of course, training, practice… What do you think are the right ways to get to the next level, to promote themselves… ?
Hard work is the first thing, as well as repeating the things you believe in to become a professional footballer, day in, day out. And then you need a little bit of luck at the right moment at the right place, where somebody must see you and believe in you. Hard work these days in itself is not enough; you also need talent.
What about football agents? How do you see them as part of the football industry and transfers? What is your experience with them?
I have had an agent since I turned professional. He is not only my agent but also does a lot more than that. Agents these days always receive bad press when transfer period is open. Ultimately, however, the player always decides where he is going to play, not the agent.
With a rich international career, I’m sure you have many experiences to share with our readers… What’s your advice for up-and-coming footballers when dealing with football agents? Choose one who is already an agent of a friend or someone who you already know, because many agents who choose you or contact you are the agents who are looking for deals to make them better.
Fieldoo.com is a Football Network for players & agents – “LinkedIn for football”. Fieldoo has been growing rapidly and features thousands of members from 120+ countries. How do you see the idea?
I think it’s a good idea because since I’ve been on LinkedIn I think I’ve had about 1000 emails or invitations from football managers who say they would like to bring me to clubs in Turkey, Spain, Italy, China or other countries. So there is a market for it, otherwise you wouldn’t have made a website like Fieldo (laughing).
Ready to expand your business as football agent?
You’re also active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, you regularly update your website … Do you think online presence and social/professional networks – Fieldoo included – are very important for a footballer and his promotion? Why?
Promotion branding is important because these days footballers are becoming more and more like role models. And with social media you are in close contact with your fans and business opportunities like commercials.
Last question: do you remember the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a football pitch?
In a game with Spartak against Grozny we were 0-2 behind, with the second half starting with a red card for Grozny after just 1 minute. We pulled it back to 2-2 and were close to 2-3. The players from Terek were very tired and in the 72nd minute Grozny’s captain walks towards the bench. 2 minutes later the lights of the stadium go out for 30 minutes, and they were drinking and eating during the break before the power came back and the lights were turned on again. We still ended up winning 2-4 but I will never forget that moment. That type of thing can only happen in Russia (laughing).