Why Veltman left Ajax for Albion

We face Joel's former club on Thursday in the Europa League.

By Charlie Hanson • 24 October 2023

Joel Veltman is happy with the choice he made to leave Ajax and test himself in the Premier League with Albion.

Speaking on the Official Brighton & Hove Albion Podcast, the 31-year-old reflected on the move from the Dutch giants in summer 2020, who we face on in the Europa League on Thursday.

“I was happy in Amsterdam. The last few years there I did have some chances to leave but it just didn’t feel right,” Joel said. “I had been there since I was ten years old. I had my family and friends there, I felt at home.

“There wasn’t the opportunity to leave earlier, which players like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Lijt, who are so talented already at 19 or 20-year-old, had. I wasn’t at that level. The older I got, the better I got. At the age of 28 I had the chance to leave Ajax, they were changing things and were looking to play younger players and I felt it was time to move on.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Joel Veltman joined Albion from Ajax in 2020.

The 31-year-old joined an Albion team that had finished the 2019/20 season 15th in the Premier League, while Ajax were reigning champions.*

That didn’t prove too big a hurdle for Joel, who wanted to test himself in a new league. “The conversation I had with Graham Potter was really inspiring. We were fighting relegation when I came, and I also had a conversation with Tony Bloom as well. He didn't say we were going to be fighting for the top four, he was realistic. It just felt right. 

“I knew [former Albion midfielder] Davy Propper and he told me that the club was evolving and did not want to stay near the bottom of the table.”

Glenn Murray – who co-hosts the BHA Podcast alongside journalist Paul Hayward – is impressed with the way in Joel adapted to the demands of England’s top tier.

By Paul Hazlewood
Davy Propper told Joel Albion were evolving when he was deciding whether to join the club.

“During my playing career I saw a lot of lads coming to the Premier League from the continent. Clubs would cherry-pick players from the likes of Ajax and  Brighton probably had more financially [to offer] because we are a Premier League club,” Glenn said. “I have seen so many players come from a team that completely control games where it it was all about attacking and you didn’t have to defend too much. 

“So it was the complete opposite when Joel came into the Premier League where it is backs against the wall, you have to work hard and so many players crumble. Joel has stood the test of time and proved himself at this level over and over again. It’s funny that some characters come in and fall away, while others stay.”

Joel added, “You have the challenge at Ajax when you face Feyenoord and Twente. But in the Premier League every game is a final, you can win every game, but you can lose every game."

*Ajax went into the 2019/20 season as Dutch reigning champions, but due to the Covid pandemic, the 2019/20 Eredivisie season was abandoned after 25 games with Erik ten Hag’s team sitting top of the table.

You can listen to the podcast with Joel here or download the Official Brighton & Hove Albion Podcast where you normally get your podcasts.