INTERVIEW: GREGORY VAN DER WIEL TALKS LONDON, BERGKAMP, YEEZYS & MORE…
We sit down with Paris Saint-Germain and Holland full-back Gregory van der Wiel in Paris...
In the French capital for the launch of the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX [more info here] and to follow the plight of explosive Brits Conrad Davies and Shameek Farrell as they prepared to take-on some of Europe’s best young players in the final of the Mercurial trials, we sat-down with Ajax Academy graduate and current Paris Saint Germain wing-back Gregory van der Wiel.
Jovial and exuding the kind of self confidence only a man who has successfully negated Ajax’s renowned academy could possibly possess. Gregory’s arrival at the uber-cool underground Paris location in a Sunset Lamborghini might have spoken to his more extravagant instincts, indeed he was expelled from the Ajax academy for not having the right attitude before earning a return to his hometown club where he flourished and earned himself a big summer move to ‘Project PSG’ and every one of his 35 international caps.
The brightly wrapped Lambo was a PR stunt for the event’s host though and having been questioned about his motives in the past, van der Wiel is a rarity in football, he wants to talk, so when we grabbed him a day before a certain Englishman forced Paris Saint Germain to the front of the international football agenda, there were a few topics up for discussion.
There was talk of you coming to London this summer, is that something you’d still like to do?
I think it’s a great city. I know a few people there, friends of mine and I think it’s a great city.
Do you look to a lot of the successful Dutch players in England over the years as inspiration?
Yeah. The Dutch players who I’ve talked to say they’re doing fine in England and they love it a lot.
How much of an influence was Dennis Bergkamp on your career and how is her perceived by young players in Holland?
For us he is really a legend. What he did, what kind of player he was, was amazing. For me, the opportunity to work with him was amazing too. It was a great experience. To talk with him, to work with him…
You’re massively active on Twitter, do you think of it as a crucial tool for interacting with your fans?
I enjoy doing it. I grew-up with Social Media around me and all of my friends have it so I don’t know better, but of course it’s important to interact with your fans.
Does it get you in trouble? I remember you once Tweeting that you were coming to London during an intense period of speculation around your future at Ajax…
Yeah, one time I went to London, just for one day just to visit and it was just like woah, yeah, he’s gone to London to sign a contract. Sometimes it can get you in trouble but you have to know what you’re doing, then it’s no problem.
What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to Hip Hop a lot. I love Hip Hop. I really love music. The American Hip Hop artists I like. Trey Songz, Chris Brown, Tyga, Lil Wayne, name them, I’ve got a lot of lists.
Are you a big fan of trainers?
Yeah, I like the Nike SBs and Jordans. The Jordan 4, Retro 4. I’m still trying to get the Yeezy IIs, but I don’t know how to get them.
Somebody here can get you a pair, surely?
Yeah! I never ask here! I’m with Nike but I never asked. I’m gonna ask today!
Do you still get the same excitement a young player gets when you see the brand new football boots?
Yeah, I am. I’m that kind of young guy too. I like to have new boots. For me, whenever I see a box at my place from Nike, it’s always like, okay [I’m excited].
Are you surprised by how fast the PSG project has come together?
Usually it takes a lot of time. You look at Manchester City’s kind of way and it’s only for almost two years now and it’s already a good team and we’re through in the Champions League, so it’s really going fast.
Who was your favourite player growing up?
For me, I love to watch football everywhere, England, Spain, but for me to really look at my position, for it was Dani Alves.
Who would you most like to play with in your career?
I think here, at Paris Saint Germain with all the big players, Tiago Silva is next to me, I play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and all the big players is just like a dream for me.
We’re talking film in the office at the moment, what’s your favourite movie of all time?
What’s your favourite scene in a movie?
[laughs] It’s kind of funny in the movie because he kills everybody but that bit in the house.
Gregory van der Wiel wears the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX which delivers performance innovation and explosive speed for the fastest players on the planet. nikefootball.com