Danny Hoesen celebrates his 22nd birthday in ten days. The centre forward, who is from Limburg, will likely look back on one of the most eventful years of his life. His move from Fortuna Sittard to Ajax brought him to the UEFA Champions League last year. What will 2013 bring for the centre forward?
Up until now, he’s played eleven official games for Ajax and scored four times. Great statistics for someone who signed a contract in Amsterdam last summer in the shadow of so many other transfers. After his years at Fortuna Sittard, the English club Fulham, HJK Helsinki and another stint at Fortuna, Ajax crossed his path in August. This turned out to be a stroke of luck, since, after a disappointing adventure in London, he has gotten playing time in Amsterdam. Does he still dream of the Premier League? Hoesen: “I’ve only just joined this fantastic club, where I’ve already played a lot more than I had been expecting. In that sense, I’m living a dream right now.”
Born to a Moroccan father and Dutch mother, he came into the position of Ajax 1’s centre forward at the end of 2012 due to Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and Ryan Babel’s injuries. This happened shortly after he made his debut in an Ajax jersey on October 3, as a substitute. And what a debut it was: directly onto the highest podium, against a well renowned opponent: in the UEFA Champions League, against Real Madrid. It was a slightly different game than against, for instance, FC Emmen, AGOVV or Almere City in the Jupiler League. A month and a half later, it was time for his debut in the Dutch competition – and how. Hoesen, coming in for Christian Eriksen twenty minutes before time, crowned his first Eredivisie appearance with a goal, the 2-0 one against VVV- Venlo.
Since then, his count has grown to four goals, as the Limburg native, who has quietly become one of the steady assets on Frank de Boer’s team, also scored against Borussia Dortmund, PSV and Willem II. “When I arrived here, I knew what I had to do. I first needed to get accustomed to the club and the people, not only to my fellow players. I was going to start with Jong Ajax, with the aim to grow from there and get playing time with the first team. I hadn’t expected to achieve all of that already. Of course, you hope that it will all go well, and that you’ll be able to make it happen for yourself. I can only be very happy with the way things are going right now.”
Hoesen realizes that he can’t rest on his laurels. “I still have a lot to learn and improve. As a football player, you’re never done with that. That’s especially true if you’re only 21 years old and from a Jupiler League club. Some things just happen for themselves. For example, you grow with the level of the practices, pull yourself up to your fellow players. And you experience playing in front of a crowd of fifty thousand spectators. But you need to be prepared to invest in things like strength training and nutrition. You need to be strict with yourself.”
He sees that he still needs to grow into the role of centre forward in the way that Ajax expects from him. “The difference with Fortuna is big, regardless of the difference in levels. With Fortuna, we were mostly the underdog and we mostly counted on my speed in the counter. Of course my speed is still a weapon, but with Ajax we’re mostly playing on the opponent’s half, and the focus is more on creating opportunities, often in small spaces. That’s almost another type of sport.”