Gregory van der Wiel is currently in his first full week of training with Ajax. Until now, the 24 year old Ajax player was on holidays in New York, Miami, and Ibiza, where he reflected on the disappointing European Championships, among other things.
Van der Wiel puts forward that most players on the Dutch team selection weren’t in top form during the EC in Poland and the Ukraine. “It was bothering me for a while, and I still feel that it’s a shame”, he said, looking back succinctly on the painful disqualification from the tournament in the group phase. “I don’t have nice memories of the EC, and unfortunately it wasn’t what I was hoping it would be. I need to move on; I’m back at Ajax and just looking forward.”
After making an early exit with the Dutch team, Van der Wiel got on an airplane to go on holidays. “That was great”, says the international with a smile. “It was a long season and football players don’t get much time off. That’s why most players like to go away for a while.”
Van der Wiel started his trip in the United States, his favorite holiday destination. “I enjoy being in America. It’s a totally different world: different culture, different people. In Miami there’s the beach, so you can relax. And New York is a big city, where I know a few people. It’s different there than in Miami, but it’s amazing to walk there among the big buildings.” After his time in Florida, Van der Wiel made a small detour on his way to Ibiza. “Flights from Miami to Ibiza weren’t so easy, so I flew back to Amsterdam first. I went home for a few hours and then I left for Ibiza.”
While he was abroad, the Amsterdam native didn’t long for the ball. “Especially the first two weeks. But at a certain point, the football animal in you surfaces and you get the urge to be on the field and get going again.” Scarcely one week after returning, the athlete is back on track. “I’ve been training for one week and I already feel like I’m almost fit. I have an athletic build and don’t need so much. Now, it’s only a question of becoming fit enough to play.”
It’s still unclear which club Van der Wiel will play with this season. He still has a contract with Ajax until next summer, so a sale or contract extension for the left back would be the best options for the champions. He himself isn’t worried. “It’s better to know what’s coming, that’s the same for everyone. But I’m not too bothered. I’m happy with this club, the club of my heart. I’ve been here since I was seven years old and, after my time with HFC Haarlem, I came back to the club which had sent me away before. In addition to that, I’m a pure Amsterdam native, and it’s an honor to play for this club, so I’m fine.”
Still, Van der Wiel isn’t closing the door on a potential transfer. His name was recently connected with Russian Anzi Machackala, where Guus Hiddink is currently in charge. “That’s not a club you dream about as a child. Although right now I’m not going to say no to anything right off the bat, because if it becomes more concrete, then I’ll take every club seriously. But we’re just not there yet.”
Van der Wiel will fly to England on Thursday with Ajax, where a week of training will be punctuated with practice matches against Southampton and Norwich City. “England is THE football country, they breathe football there. Even the practice matches will be great. It’s always nice to be there and practice with the group.”