HC Bloemendaal superstar Teun de Nooijer – a man considered by many to be one of the finest hockey players the world has ever seen - talks about his decision to retire and his dream of winning a second Euro Hockey League title on home soil.
Hi Teun, many thanks for talking to us. First of all, let’s talk about your decision to end your remarkable playing career.
TEUN DE NOOIJER: “It was a hard decision to make but it feels really good, actually. I started playing hockey at the age of nine and the sport has become part of my rhythm. It is what I have done my whole life and now I am 37. It will be strange when the routine of going to training, preparing for matches, playing matches and doing all of the other things which are necessary to be good on the pitch has gone. I think I will need to create a new rhythm and routine for myself.”
Has it been an emotional decision to make?
TdN: “Well, not yet. I have quite a few matches in front of me, so at the moment I am carrying on as normal, preparing for matches in exactly the same ways as I always have. The next game is always the most important one. When the final whistle blows in my last match – when I realise that there is no “next match” to focus on – it might be emotional then but no, not at the moment. I’m just focussed on the end of our season and the big games that are going to come.”
You have played for Bloemendaal for over 20 years and won countless trophies in that time. What would it mean to you to win a second Euro Hockey League title in front of your home fans?
TdN: “First of all it is unbelievable that we are in the Final Four. Bloemendaal has a great history in European club hockey, and in 2009 we managed to reach Final Four in Rotterdam and ended up winning the title. Now we have done it again, and to get the chance to play in front of our friends and family at Bloemendaal is really great. I feel a bit lucky that it is taking place at my club, not just because of the home advantage. It is possible that these games will be my last for Bloemendaal, which is an unbelievable scenario. I’m really happy about that, and I think that the whole club is.”
Bloemendaal faces a stern Semi Final test from Dutch rivals Amsterdam H&BC, a team that you recently defeated away from home in the Hoofdklasse (Dutch league). Do you think that result will give Bloemendaal a psychological advantage?
TdN: “I don’t know. Of course we have the home advantage … the crowd will be a mass of orange, and it will be a great environment to play in. However, we struggled a little bit after the winter break and had some poor results, but played well at KO16 Amsterdam and have started to find some form again in the league. I think we are getting into a good flow, and that is always good when you are approaching the end of the season. We are feeling confident, and playing at home will certainly help us.”
Your former Bloemendaal team-mate Jamie Dwyer was recently asked for his reaction to your retirement. This is what he said: “I remember watching Teun for the first time in the 1994 World Cup in Sydney. Since then I have seen him become a truly brilliant player for Bloemendaal and for Holland. I'm fortunate enough to have played against him and even more fortunate to have played alongside him. I've learnt a lot from him both on and off the field, and he has been a role model for myself and a lot of sportsmen and sports women around the world. He is such a great guy on and off the field and he will be greatly missed by everyone. If I could say anything to Teun ahead of EHL Final Four it would be this: play the same as you have for the past 20 years and you'll be just fine! Thanks for contributing so much to hockey. It has been a privilege to play against and with you for so long.” What is your reaction to those comments?
TdN: “Unbelievable … great words from a great friend. We played a lot together at Bloemendaal, which I really loved. I also played against him many times, including in the Olympic Final at Athens 2004 where Jamie scored the winning goal. He is such a good player, I think he has won five World Player of the Year titles now, which really says a lot about him. Those words really mean a lot to me, and he is a great friend of mine.”
Finally, once this season is all over, what is next for the great Teun de Nooijer?
TdN: “Two things, actually. I will be focussing on the youth players at Bloemendaal, helping to create an environment so that young talent can reach the potential that they have. I will be involved as a trainer, a coach and as someone who can look at the program to see if we are going in the right direction. As well as this, I will be continuing my work with the TDNA (Teun de Nooijer Academy), which has been up and running since 2007. That is also coaching and training, helping people and organisations to reach their full potential."
An extended version of this interview can be found on www.ehlhockey.tv, the official website of the Euro Hockey League.
EHL Final Four - Tournament Information
The Euro Hockey League Final Four competition, which also features the final of the women's EuroHockey Club Champions Cup, takes place at HC Bloemendaal (NED) on 18-19 May 2013. The Semi Finals of the Euro Hockey League will take place on Saturday 18th, with Rot-Weiss Koln of Germany and Belgium's KHC Dragons going head-to-head at 1200 (UTC/GMT +1). Host club HC Bloemendaal take on fellow Dutch outfit Amsterdam H&BC in the second Semi Final, which starts at 14.30.
Sunday will feature three key matches as the European club season reaches its climax. The first match of the day - EHL's Bronze medal match - takes place at 1015. That game is followed at 1245 by the Final of the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup, which sees HC‘s Hertogenbosch and Laren MHC meet in an all-Dutch encounter. The final of the Euro Hockey League takes place at 1515, with the winner getting the chance to lift one the most sought after piece of silverware in men's club hockey - the Alain Danet Trophy.
The complete match schedule for the weekend can be found below.
Tickets for this event are currently selling very quickly and it is likely to be a sell-out. To purchase tickets, please visit the Tickets section of the EHL website.
For those of you who cannot attend, do not despair! As always, the Euro Hockey League will be providing full coverage of the event, with live streaming and complete tournament information being available on www.ehlhockey.tv and through their Smartphone App which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and on Google Play. The social media coverage will also be extensive, allowing fans to interact through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What: EHL Final Four (Men) and EuroHockey Club Champions Cup Final (Women)
Where: HC Bloemendaal (NED)
When: 18-19 May 2013
Match Schedule (all times are local - UTC/GMT +1)
Saturday 18 May 2013
12.00: EHL Semi Final 1
KTHC Rot-Weiss Koln (GER) v KHC Dragons (BEL)
14.30: EHL Semi Final 2
HC Bloemendaal (NED) v Amsterdam H&BC (NED)
Sunday 19 May 2013
10.15: EHL 3rd/4th Place Match
12.45: EuroHockey CCC Final (Women)
HC ‘s Hertogenbosch (NED) v Laren MHC (NED)
15.15: Euro Hockey League Final
Note: This match schedule may be subject to amendment or variation by the Tournament Director due to the requirements of television.
Source material: Euro Hockey League
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