Hoogendijk and the Champions League anthem

Anouk in Wonderland

Two training sessions more and Anouk Hoogendijk will be listening to the UEFA Champions League anthem. Arsenal’s Dutch signing is fit at the right time. ”This is magical”

AMSTERDAM – ”What am I doing?”, she thought to herself. Anouk Hoogendijk was alone in London while her teammates were at the Cyprus Cup. That is what you get when you have international players as teammates. ”Everyone was away and I did not know anyone here. I had to do everything on my own. I had to find my way around here, but on the left driving lanes. There are only roundabouts here! When I had free days, I did not really know what to do. Wow, I realized I had to get used to all this”

Meanwhile, the most famous female footballer in the Netherlands finds this funny and already feels at home in her new club Arsenal. She has had the chance to meet her new teammates now that they are all back in London. She has also met Arsene Wenger, Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and other players of the Gunners. ”We train on the same complex with the men; everything is super professional here. And the level is high; not normal. Especially the Japanese ladies are very good. Their first touch is unbelievable. England’s Kelly Smith is also a big name I only knew from TV, and now she is my teammate.”

Arsenal shirts

Anouk feels she is in Wonderland but the 28 year old Hoogendijk is amazed at how things were done differently at Ajax. ”Here, we have to wash our football shirts ourselves. I had to laugh when I first heard it. I always cook here but at Ajax there was always a buffet ready for the players. What I also find strange is that players get to the club ten minutes before training. In the Netherlands, I was always at the club an hour before the training session and I was not even the first person to arrive there. Here in Arsenal, I get there 30 minutes before time so that I can have some time at the physio and time to prepare for training”

Anouk and Wenger

When Hoogendijk took the decision to join Arsenal, she had sleepless nights. Firstly, because she felt very bad to break the news to Ajax coach Ed Engelkes and her teammates and secondly because she was scared of the fans’ reaction. We were halfway through the season so I thought people would not be happy. But everyone was happy for me. The fans said goodbye with banners, firework and gifts. That was great. Now I know I have made the right decision.”

Anouk love

At least she can make her Champions League debut on Monday. The Dutch international has recovered from her injury right on time to play in the Quarter finals against Birmingham. ”That was one of the reasons I joined Arsenal. The Champions League, a dream… Magical! Too bad we are playing against another English side, because travelling abroad to play games is a great part of the competition” On the other hand it is an advantage because Birmingham have not played any competitive games. England is a summer competition that begins in April. Ah! We will cross borders in the next round.”

Anouk and Thomas

The question now is whether Hoogendijk will start against Birmingham. She played 45 minutes in a friendly game last Sunday. ”It was my first game in four months but it went very well, who knows. The competition is fierce due to high level of football. She is a star in the Netherlands but has to be content with a reserve role in London. ”That is good so that I can concentrate on football although I am very busy on twitter, instagram and facebook with all the new English followers. I try replying every message all night long but I have now stopped that.”

Credit: Johan van Boven

Arsenal Anouk

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