In 2007, Van der Wiel made his official debut for the Ajax 1st team. At the time, as a youngster, he joined a squad with players like Jaap Stam, Edgar Davids, Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. "When I joined the first team, I really played with the big boys. I honestly thought 'wow'. Some had played at the global top level, they were real men."
"The bar was very high. They did not come to mess around and said so when they had to. Stam was in my position. To watch him and be in the same dressing room was an experience in itself. I had to perform at a high level immediately and that made me better," the now 35-year-old Van der Wiel continued.
A nasty injury kept him sidelined for much of the 2007/2008 season. One season later, he was fit and unmissable in coach Marco van Basten's starting line-up. "I went from central defender to right back. I was a very driven player, explosive and comfortable on the ball. I think I made the transition to right-back because of my physicality."
On 1 March 2009, the Ajax players visited FC Utrecht. It was 0-2 with Van der Wiel opening the scoring after nine minutes of play following a pass from Miralem Sulejmani. It was his very first official goal in the Ajax 1st team. "I remember the action started on the touchline, I ran into the sixteen and got it from Miralem. Half falling, I shot it in with the left, not a great goal but it was in," he laughed. "It was very bold to score as a defender. It was a loaded match in Utrecht, so nice to score there."
FC Utrecht away, traditionally a tough match for Ajax. Van der Wiel experienced that too. He played there five times in the league with the Amsterdam team. The first two were won, then he missed out three times. "Always tricky, but we had that more often in those days. Many teams played well against us, it was always the same with FC Utrecht. We really wouldn't have won by default there."
On Sunday, Ajax meets FC Utrecht. Van der Wiel argues that both Ajax and FC Utrecht are way too low down the table. "Ajax remains in my heart and I think it's a shame how things are going now. A result on Sunday will always do the team good and then things can quickly go the other way. When I look at the standings, this does represent an opportunity to take three points and gain confidence."