Veltman about 'delightful' Klassiekers: 'The hostility energized me'

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Header Veltman 1280

Feyenoord - Ajax, is a match in itself. Joël Veltman experienced the duel in Rotterdam multiple times. Together with the true Ajacied, we discuss the feeling of the Klassieker and look at five special editions in which the defender made an appearance. "That goal was an indescribable feeling."

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We talk to the former Ajax player via a Zoom connection from the south of England. Since the summer of 2020 Veltman has been playing in the Premier League for Brighton, where he has made over 80 appearances. "The fact that I have played so many matches at this level is great. It feels good that I can show that I’ve got it here too."

With Feyenoord - Ajax on the horizon, Veltman's thoughts immediately go to Frank de Boer. "You have to get energy from that hostility and silence the crowd," he always said. It energized me. I found those matches delightful." Even the mini-Klassiekers for the youth teams were intense. "There were times when we had to wait in the dressing room because parents would get into fights. It's part of it, as long as there is a sense of mutual respect."

January 29, 2012: Feyenoord – Ajax 4-2
His first Klassieker happened to be the first time Veltman was part of the Ajax squad. "During the training, I heard I was allowed to join them for the match the next day. It was very special to be part of the team, right there in the lion's den. I liked the atmosphere. It was where you wanted to play as an Ajax player. We did not win, but as a young player, I thought it was a wonderful experience."

March 2, 2014: Feyenoord – Ajax 1-2
The first Klassieker Veltman played turned out to be one of his favourites. "I remember we were 1-0 behind and scored the equalizer via Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.  After that moment things went back and forth, and we got a corner that Leroy Duarte took. The ball ended up in front of the goal, and Niklas Moisander appealed for a handball." What stood out was the fact that the Finn kept appealing for a penalty, even after Veltman scored. "I have no idea what he wanted, but I thought to myself: leave that handball, we are going to celebrate", Veltman says smiling.

"It was a dream come true", is how he describes his feeling after scoring the winning goal. "This is what you wanted as a boy who grew up at Ajax. There was a burst of emotion and everyone ran up to me. It was at the end of the match. It was an indescribable feeling."

October 28, 2015: Feyenoord – Ajax 1-0
The memories Veltman has of the Cup duel one and a half years later, are less positive. "Stuff like that can happen. One time you make the winning goal, the other time you are the unlucky one. It was a free kick, and I wanted to boot the ball in a different direction. I hit it wrong, and scored an own goal during the last minute."

After the match, Veltman received loads of messages, especially from Feyenoord supporters. "I can laugh about it now, but I couldn't back then. It is football humour. I got the same type of messages in 2014, but they were of a different nature", Veltman laughs. "The more hate you get, the more you know things went well."

October 22, 2017: Feyenoord – Ajax 1-4
In 2017, captain Veltman led the Amsterdam-based club to a victory in De Kuip. "We were very efficient and played well those days. We had a stone-cold Kasper Dolberg, who barely celebrated his goal. I would have gone mad if I would have scored that goal. To be the captain and win made that match even more special."

Winning in Rotterdam is special to Veltman either way. "It might even feel nicer than winning in Amsterdam. The matches we played at home almost always ended in our favour. To have a victory in De Kuip, with your friends, gives you an amazing feeling. Taking three points home from Rotterdam to Amsterdam is lovely."

October 27, 2019: Feyenoord – Ajax 0-3
Exactly one month after the 6-2 defeat in the league, Ajax had their vengeance in the Dutch Cup final. Veltman missed the battle due to an injury, and spend the final on the bench. "The first defeat was all over the news. It triggered us even more to win that final. We wanted vengeance. From the sidelines, I could see how keen the team was to win. I was more nervous on the bench than I would have been if I was on the field."

Looking ahead to the match on Sunday, Veltman is clear. "The game does not depend on who is physically fit or not. It might sound cliché, but it really works that way. They always play at full force when they play against us at home. If Ajax can deliver the same type of aggression, they will win. It will show their true qualities. To silence the crowd and play their own game, that is how you get them where you want them."

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