This season Brighton & Hove Albion’s matchday programme Seagull has had numerous players facing fans’ questions in the Hotseat. Here are Danny Holla’s answers.
What’s been your favourite Albion game this season?
DH: I really liked the Arsenal game, a special cup match against a great team, but the most important for me was Fulham away. It was an important game for us and I think it was a turning point in our season. The three points got us up the table a bit and to see almost 3,000 away fans behind that goal was just unbelievable. They played their part in the win, no doubt.
Which team did you support as a boy?
DH: I supported Ajax. They had some great players when I was growing up, the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf…. and that team won the European Cup in 1994, although Bergkamp had left by then. It was a very good team and I remember watching them at their old stadium, which has houses built on it now. When I left home to play for Groningen at 14, I then followed their results instead.
Who was your football hero?
DH: I didn’t have a player whose picture I put on my wall or anything like that, but Kluivert was my favourite player at Ajax. I was also a fan of English football, as we saw a lot of games on TV, and I also liked to watch Bergkamp and Overmars at Arsenal. I was a bit of an Arsenal fan because of those two, and of course they later had Robin van Persie playing for them.
Did you have another career in mind in case you never made it as a footballer?
DH: No, it was always football. When I was at school I did okay academically; my exam results were steady, but I didn’t really like school that much – I just wanted play football. When I got to train with the first team at Groningen at 16/17, that was it, my mind was made up and I was just completely focused on football.
How many languages do speak?
DH: I obviously speak Dutch, English, and a bit of German and Belgian. People say English is hard to learn but Dutch is by far the hardest. There are elements that are hard to master, getting things in the right grammatical order.
What was the town where you grew up like?
DH: I grew up in a new town called Almere, which is 15 minutes from Amsterdam. It was only built 35 years ago and a lot of people from Amsterdam – including my parents – moved out to live there. It was a good neighbourhood and I remember playing football with the older boys. There was one boy I remember who was good at football and went to play for the youth team at Ajax – Paul Mulders. I didn’t see him again until I joined Den Haag and he was in the team there. That was quite fun for us to have gone from the streets to playing Eredivisie football.
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What do you miss most about your homeland?
DH: I miss my family and friends the most. I call my mum every day, as I did when I moved to Groningen all those years ago. I get back home when I can and it’s pretty easy from here in Sussex. I sometimes take the car through the Eurotunnel but I mainly go by plane. It’s easy; 45 minutes from Gatwick to Amsterdam, and then I’m only a 15 minute drive from the airport.
And what don’t you miss?
DH: I don’t miss the hectic nature of the city centre in Amsterdam. The other weekend, I was there with my missus, just walking around, and people were so busy. I saw people on scooters turning round corners without their indicators on, and car drivers were yelling at them, screaming! People are not like that here. I like living here by the sea here and the people are so laid back and really kind.
Who’s the best player you’ve played with?
DH: Easy, Luis Suarez. I played with him when he came to Groningen for a season in 2006. We were both in the first team at 17 and 18, so we had a connection as young players and used to hang out, although he didn’t speak much Dutch and no English. In the beginning he was not that good. He would dribble with the ball, push it against you and go again. We thought that was him being lucky, but six months later he was still doing it – typical Suarez – and had turned into this unbelievable striker. The following season he joined Ajax and his career really took off. The last time I saw him was when I played against him when he was at Ajax, and we had a good chat. By that time he had learnt some Dutch and even did some interviews on TV.
What’s your fave holiday destination?
DH: Well the last three years I have been to Ibiza and I think I’ll be going there again this summer. I really like the island, but the more chilled out resorts. A few of my old footballing friends are going there as well this year, so we’ll no doubt meet up and hang out together.
Since you came to England, what TV show do you like?
DH: I don’t actually watch English TV. We have Dutch TV in our house and we watch the Dutch version of The Voice, and also Voice Kids. Another programme I like is Expedition Robinson, where a host of Dutch celebrities are sent to a desert island. It’s a bit like I’m a Celebrity that you have here.