In Life at the Top, featured first in our official matchday programme, we find out more about our first-team stars and their careers to date. Next, we speak to Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema.
When did you first want to become a footballer and why?
My dad always used to go and play football and i used to go to the games and just play on the side bit of the pitch. I didn’t really do anything else and I couldn't do anything else either, so it was quite easy for me to start playing football
Can you remember your first encounter with football?
I just used to kick the ball against everything in the house. Anything on the floor wasn’t safe around me! I could barely walk and I was already kicking it against everything. My parents weren’t happy about that… but they loved it as well, though!
Did you play any other sports as a youngster?
I’ve done cycling which is quite big in Holland and that’s about it!
Did you ever meet any famous players when you were younger?
I’m a Feyenoord fan so I used to go and see Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt train and all of them!
Who was the first team that you played for as a youngster?
I started playing football at HZVV. It was the club close by and I was four and a half when I joined them.
Where did you play as a youngster?
I’ve actually always been a No 10. I’d never played as a striker until two or three years ago.
What’s the first game that you can remember playing?
That’s a hard one, but I remember being on the pitch for some youth games when I was little, but I don’t remember the whole game. The one I do remember, though, I think I must have been six or seven and the ball came between me and the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper kicked out two of my teeth! That’s one of the first real memories I have of football.
What was your best game as a youngster?
I changed club and I started playing for VV de Weide because they were in a higher division in Holland and we played a game against FC Groningen, who were a first division club in Holland, and we beat the boys 7-5 and I scored seven goals. Loads of those Groningen boys play at a high level now too, they’re in the top league or playing for the National team, so that was a very big game for me. Zivkovic and Bacuna were playing!
Who were your early influences in football?
I’ve always played football with my dad, even outside, so my dad has been a big person in my football career. I also really liked the coach at my first club and he really made me better as a player.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
I don’t really do advice and stuff like that, but I’ve always thought that if I respect a trainer, then I play better and that brings the best out of me.
Was there a key moment as a youngster that helped you to get where you are today?
When I was 14 I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to stay with the boys or go to the top women’s league already. I made the decision to go there and when I joined I was 14, and every other player was like 30 and above, so it was a very big step up! But in the end, I feel like every decision that I’ve made so far has been a good one - and that was probably the biggest one!
What do you remember from the day that you signed pro?
I was 14 and I signed the contract with Heerenveen, but I’ll always remember that I was too young to sign the contract myself, so my parents had to sign it for me!
What do you remember from your first-team debut?
I came on as a substitute because I was so young, and it was in the last 20 minutes. We were 1-0 behind at the time and I ended up scoring two goals and winning the game.
What would you consider to be your greatest moment in football?
Winning the Euros, I would say. The feeling of playing in Holland and winning the Euros was just amazing. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a feeling that strong again.
And what would be your hardest moment in football?
Maybe the Euros as well to be honest… we were going into the Euros with so much pressure and everyone was watching us, so that’s a big experience to deal with. It’s what made it so good at the end too!
What has changed most about your game since signing as a pro?
Well, I’ve always been a No 10 and I basically became a No 9 because we didn’t really have a real No 9 in the national team, so I’ve become a really different player. I used to be the one who was the playmaker and to be fair I used to score a lot of goals as a No 10, but right now I’m much more of a No 9. I need to hold the ball up and I needed to become a more complete player to play where I am now. It’s quite typical of Dutch football (to change positions like that). I just like to receive the ball and see the goal, rather than receive the ball and have my back to goal!
What’s surprised you most about being a professional footballer?
I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t been surprised by much at all. I would say I’m quite down to earth as well, so it’s not that that it’s normal, but it’s what you expect from it.
Is there anything that you could learn from your younger self on the pitch?
I just think that when I was younger I used to play with a lot more freedom. There was no pressure, it was just fun and you could do whatever you want. I would go and dribble the whole way up the pitch and score a goal, which right now I obviously wouldn’t try!
Do you still love football just as much? And how often do you watch it in your spare time?
I literally think that our TV only knows the green pitch, because we’re just watching football every single day, all day long. I still love football and I just love watching the game and being involved with the game. It’s not that I always love being on the pitch, but we have such a nice squad too.
If you have kids one day, would you want them to follow in your footsteps?
If they want to play football then of course, yes! But if they want to do gymnastics or anything else, I’ll be there to support them as well.
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