Andries Noppert: Dutch Football, Moving to Italy and the role of a goalkeeper

You signed for FC Dordrecht in 2019. How are you enjoying your time at the club and how would you describe a club such as FC Dordrecht?

Yes, I have enjoyed my time at the club but unfortunately I have not played as many games as I would have liked due to sustaining an injury and I was subsequently operated on my groin where I was out for quite some time. I am now a free agent and I can go where I please. I arrived at the club with the intention of playing regularly and FC Dordrecht is a great club and is a very relaxed environment.

There is not much pressure as we know that FC Dordrecht will not be up there fighting for the Dutch First Division title although they may have such ambitions in future. The opportunity to play for such a nice club appealed to me and I saw it as an advantage to sign for the club and play many games but things worked out differently to what I imagined. I imagined being able to play every game but unfortunately that did not last long due to sustaining an injury.

You came through the youth setup and debuted for SC Heerenveen. How do you look back on your time at the club and did you learn anything in particular that stood you in good stead for your career as a professional footballer?

Credit: SCPEC1910

Yes, Absolutely. I always believed it to be an honour to play for SC Heerenveen as I am also from the area and that region of the Netherlands and I started out in the youth academy at a young age and I learned a lot from many coaches and such an experience has made me the man I am today. I managed to forge a good bond with the club and SC Heerenveen supporters and it is a club that I will always hold close to my heart. I was treated really well by the people at the club and I will never say a bad word about SC Heerenveen.

You played abroad in Italy for Foggia. How do you look back on your time abroad and at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Yes, I could write a whole book about my time at Foggia and what I experienced in Italy. The then manager Giovanni Stroppa brought me to the club and he and the club showed a lot of confidence in me and after a period of sitting on the bench and awaiting my chance I got it towards the end of the Serie B season and I played five games in a row I also won an award the best player at the time of Serie B and I also signed a contract extension.

I played well against Carpi and I even saved a few penalties. Shortly after that other clubs became interested in signing me and Foggia were asking too much money in terms of transfer fee and then a new manager arrived and he had a different approach and he made his own choices. I will never shy away from learning a new language but you must also have a click with a manager as a player and I did not have that with Gianluca Grassadonia and unfortunately things did not work out.

A lot of things happened both on and off the pitch, my car was stolen by the mafia and everybody knew where my car was but me and then I was offered to buy my own car back for €10,000 which I was prepared to do but then the manager advised me against doing that because ”You will only get the skeleton and the car itself will have been stripped” So I decided not to do it.

If we won a game there were always celebrations and if we lost you had to watch your car or not enter into the city and that shows the passion and experience that Italian footballers have and how they think about football and it is something that is awesome in my opinion and it is something I have come to admire. I will never say a bad word about my time in Italy but the experience could have been even more beautiful but due to circumstances. I would have liked to play more games although I look back on my time in Italy with very positive memories and I have come to appreciate how Italian fans think about football and that is something that I view as very important.

You have accrued experience in the Netherlands and also in Italy, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Credit: Антон Зайцев

Yes, If I can turn it around and say that the best player I have played with is Hakim Ziyech. We played together at SC Heerenveen. If you see how he has performed in recent years and that he has now made a wonderful transfer to Chelsea FC in the Premier League. I have also played with Alfreð Finnbogason who is now playing for FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga and he is also a great striker but if there is one player that stands out in that respect then it is Hakim Ziyech. I am really intrigued about his transfer to the Premier League and the high expectations at Chelsea FC.

I can imagine in your position as a goalkeeper that you have come up against some difficult opponents through the years, could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

For me personally as a goalkeeper I treat every game I play like a final and I do not view particular players on the pitch as stand out opponents and I view it as eleven against eleven so I do not pay much attention to big players. I take each game as it comes and it would be very difficult for me to pick a specific opponent from the games that I have played through the years. I also feel that I would be selling my other opponents short by picking out certain opponents. I much prefer to look at myself and that is something that I always do. When I play a match I am facing eleven opponents on the pitch because it is not just about one player for example.

Finally Andries, could you say who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and have played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

Yes, One manager that gave me a lot of confidence was Johnny Janssen at SC Heerenveen and he helped me to improve my level. At NAC Breda I worked together with Jelle ten Rouwelaar who is currently goalkeeping coach at Anderlecht in Belgium. I learned a lot from him and he also gave me a lot of confidence and I am grateful to him and I would also like to mention Giovanni Stroppa at Foggia he was in particular tactically very strong. He had a great way of playing football.

At Ajax in the Netherlands for example the careful football they play starts at the back and Giovanni played in a way with a lot of passion and will and he also had a very good career playing for among others AC Milan and Lazio and he wanted to play good football and I was always charmed by the way that he thought about football and he would make his thoughts and methods known to his players and the players would take it on board and go out on the pitch and perform well because they knew of the career that he had and that he knew what he was talking about.

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