The extra time managed to lure Red Devils Toby Alderweireld as a guest, after the country competition was over. The 33-year-old defender spoke mainly about Qatar – sporting and not sporting – and Antwerp, as he spoke to sporting director Marc Overmars in the stands yesterday. The fans are already dreaming. “In football you never know,” the 33-year-old defender doesn’t throw in the door.
Alderweireld moved to Qatar last summer after 7 arduous years in the English Premier League with Southampton and Tottenham, where he won the Emir Cup, the most important cup in Qatar, with Al Duhail, and finished second in the league.
“We have had a good season, and I am happy to be back in Belgium for a while. We recently became the first team in our group in the Champions League, but the next round will only be in February. And that has to do with the world cup.”
No one has seen any matches from Alderweireld. “This is especially strange for my parents, who have always been following me.”
He is often asked the question, but how did he test the level of Qatari competition? “It’s not a premium league and no better than Belgium, although I can’t really compare, because I’ve never played in Belgium. But the level is good, the competition has taken steps.”
Alderweireld is satisfied: “I made the right decision. Family was the main reason. Because of Tottenham in the Premier League and so many matches, I was often away. It’s time to think about family, I have two young children.”
“I’m a fan of football in Antwerp”
Alderweireld came to Antwerp-Anderlecht yesterday and how the fans lived that match was a moment of extra time: “At 4-0 behind you you’ll see empty stadiums, but the fans just stood behind the team here. Love the club.”
“After months of negative fan news in Belgium, but also in Europe, you see that it can be done like this. Support your club in difficult times. Let’s do it like this. This is a good example.”
Alderweireld is seen in the stands speaking with Marc Overmars, Antwerp’s sporting director. What was that about? “He’s the manager who allowed me to move from Ajax to Atlético Madrid. That was actually a kind of thank you.”
“It always went well at Ajax, you never left for free. We’ve played the championship 3 times in a row and then the club also gives you your transfer and helps you with that. We also give Ajax a transfer fee. You don’t. We won’t forget a thing of Like that. And the Overmars were top notch at that. You helped us, now we will help you.”
This conversation makes Antwerp fans dream that Alderworld might come and play with Antwerp. What is his message to the fans? “In football you never know,” does not close the door.
“I understand that too. I come from Germinal Ekeren, I was in the Germinal Beerschot youth. But I’m just an Antwerp football fan, I can’t hide it. Everyone knows I’m from Antwerper and the city is in my heart.”
“It’s a pity that Berchot fails, but it’s also a pleasure to see Antwerp take the strides it has taken. It’s a sleeping giant, even though we’ve been saying that for 20 years. But now they’re making progress. He doesn’t snore every now and then. That’s cool, Because such a beautiful city deserves a club that competes for the best prices.”
I am glad to see Antwerp taking the steps it is taking.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Cup: I feel like 24 again!”
The last words of the broadcast were again by Alderworld and again with Qatar as the theme. Is he ready for the World Cup? “Yes, I’m looking forward to it now!”
“I’m fitter than a year ago, mentally too. And I’m sharper. After 7 intense years in the Premier League, I took time to work on my pain points. I feel fit, feel 24 again.”
“I have now completely regained the enthusiasm I had lost. I also know what it takes to be/stay/get fit. My choice was for 100% better towing than expected.”
The situation of foreign workers, who work hard on the World Cup infrastructure and whose working conditions are under heavy criticism, were also briefly discussed. “I know I’m a special person. But the workers I talk to are grateful. They don’t have a job in the Philippines or India, for example, they’re happy with money to help their families. My experience doesn’t mean, of course, that those problems don’t exist.”
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