Nearly a thousand questions came in for the supporters' interview with John O'Brien. The American Ajax player took his time for the selection of questions and answered everthing candidly. He revealed to be interested in an extended stay with the club where he has been playing since he was sixteen years old.
Was it a difficult step to go from America to Holland to play for Ajax?
,,Certainly! I came here when I was sixteen. The language was different, the weather was different and the family where I was staying was not my own. After two years I could speak the language and started to feel at home a bit more. But it took about five years until I felt Holland was a part of me."
Hey, when you arrived at Ajax, you were received well by a number of players. With which players did you get along well in the beginning of your Ajax career and is that still the case? Or have they gone and do you keep in touch? I would also like to congratulate you with your fantastic return.
,,I was very well received by players who showed me around town and who also helped me on the training pitch. Jimmy Guy helped me a lot and I could also go to his family. Everyone from my old youth team has left Ajax, but I see them occasionally."
Dear John, what was the most diffiicult thing during your long time of rehabilitation?
,,The most difficult thing was to stay focussed. To keep seeing the goal I was working toward. It was so hard because it seemed so far away."
Do you still do the occasional stand-up comedy or was it a one-time thing?
,,I have only done it once so far, because a friend of mine works at a comedy club and I had jokingly said that I could do that too. It went pretty well. They even said I could come back, but there has not been an opportunity yet."
Great to have you back! I'm really happy that you're doing so well; to me you're playing like you never were away. Much respect overhere!
My question: I read on the ajax website that you did a "freestyle rap" with Nigel in Portugal. As I do a hiphop radioshow at RAZO (Radio Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, 105.2 FM ether, 103.8 kabel), I'm wondering what is your favorite hiphop/rap artist of all time? And what is your favorite song at the moment? Maybe I can spin it?
Thanks for your answer, Martijn (Amsterdam)
,,I'm going a bit back in time now, but I like Eric B&Rakim and De La Soul. In my cd player I've got De La Soul with Buhloone Mind State right now."
You are an American who has become partly Dutch (so you are bi-lingual) and I wonder in which language you curse when for instance you are fouled.
,,When I really get mad, I do it in English. After a hard tackle I sometimes curse in Dutch but in English it goes with more passion."
What is the strangest thing a fan has ever done for you? And what did you think of that? Good luck this season!! See Ya
,,It depends on what you allow, sometimes fans offer you something and I wonder why they think I would enjoy that. I am not talking about presents or something, but about having dinner with them."
What is your favourite position?
,,Left midfielder. That's where I'm most comfortable."
Do you think much has changed in quality since your injury and if so, what has changed and is it an improvement?
,,Yes, things have changed but that's mainly because so many players are missing with injuries. We have a very enthousiastic group but if you miss for instance Zlatan, Pienaar and Trabelsi, you miss a lot of quality."
Hi John, I am very glad that you're back after such an injury. I was wondering how you keep it up when the rest of the team is playing and you're hurt?
,,By being busy with yourself. Making plans with the physiotherapist and devoting your energy to that."
Against ADO Den Haag, you took over the captain's band from Galásek. How does it feel to be Ajax's captain and do you think it is a responsible job?
,,It feels great being the captain of Ajax. I have received the band twice toward the end of a match, but you don't have to sign the match sheet. That's the job of the one that starts the match as captain. It is an honour. Especially if you consider who have been the captains of Ajax the past twenty, thirty years."
How does your future look? Is it with Ajax? Until when does your contract run and do you hope to extend it?
,,My contract runs to the end of the season. I'm open to extending it. I'm not thinking about it too much, because I don't have the idea that they want to get rid of me."
Do yo ever go and see the Ajax youth? Or don't you have time for that?
,,When I was injured, I did my rehab on the Toekomst. I enjoyed watching the youth teams play or train. Now that I am healthy again, I don't see so much. Occasionally I go to watch Ajax 2 play."
My thanks to Ajax-USA for letting fans know about this opportunity to ask you a question.
I would like to know a bit about you and your life in America before you left for Holland. At what age did you first get top level coaching? What positions did you play and what skills were the most valuable? When did you dedicate yourself to only playing soccer? Last, what did you learn in American schools that helped you the most in living in Holland?
Mark (Greenville, USA)
,,I was twelve years old when I started to play with a club. I played in central midfield where my skills like passing and technique were valuable. I also enjoyed playing other sports until football took up all of my time when I was sixteen."
Do you think that many Americans will play in Ajax 1 in a few years, because many talented players will be found at Ajax Orlando?
,,Ajax Orlando can help getting more Americans in the youth system here. I hope that they'll make it to the top, but that's going to be very difficult."
Would you ever want to play for an American team and if so, for which one?
,,Not at this moment, but I would like to finish my career with the Los Angeles Galaxy in my home town. Last year the Most Valuable Player was 40 years old, so I have some time."
Holland play a friendly against the USA on 18 February. Who is going to win?
I am glad that you're back! My question: How big is your reputation in the United States?
,,Within the football community fairly big, because I have played in the Olympics and the World Cup. People who follow football know that. But I am not such a public figure as the soccer players in America."
Did you watch the Super Bowl?
,,No, it was too late for me. It does interest me. I have a lot of relatives who were all excited about New England."
What do you think of the fact that Bush was nominated for the Nobel peace prize?
,,So it's really true? Strange. I'll leave it at that."