Interviews

van Hecke hopes he and Dunk will be at Euros

Defender has been a mainstay in the Albion team so far this campaign.

By Nick Szczepanik • 27 February 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Jan Paul van Hecke has made 42 appearances for us.

Jan Paul van Hecke would like nothing more than to join defensive partner Lewis Dunk at this summer’s European Championships in Germany. 

But so far, the 23-year-old Dutch defender hasn't been called into Ronald Koeman's squad despite some stellar performances – not least in helping to keep clean sheets in both Albion’s Europa League ties against Ajax.

So, has there been any contact about futures international matches?

02:24

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PL Highlights: Brighton 1 Everton 1

“Nothing yet,” JP said after the 1-1 draw at home to Everton. 

“The next international break is in a few weeks so we’ll wait and see. Hopefully I get a call-up. I think I’m doing well so it’s up to Koeman. 

“All you can do is keep doing well on the pitch and show your qualities. I think I need to keep going and if I play like this, maybe I’ll get a call.”

02:09

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Dunk: I knew Gross would Cruyff turn!

However, he has no doubts that the Albion captain deserves to keep his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad ahead of games against Brazil and Belgium next month.

“I see Lewis Dunk every day and I think he is amazing. He deserves to get a call-up. He’s one of the best centre-backs England has so I think he should be playing and he could do really well at the Euros.

“If you look at his last seasons, his quality is unbelievable and he’s a great player. He’s a Brighton legend and I can learn a lot from him – I have already. It’s great to play alongside him and hopefully we can have a lot more games together.”

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One aspect of the game in which JP admits he can learn from Dunky is in scoring goals. The Dutchman has yet to find the net in 42 appearances in all competitions, while the skipper has three in his past eight matches, including the late point-saver against Everton. 

“He’s better at scoring goals than me until now! Hopefully I can get a few also, which would be good for the team. Maybe I need my first goal and then I’ll get invited [to Roberto De Zerbi’s home] for pasta.” 

Jan Paul was disappointed not to be on the winning side against the Toffees, but added, “I’m proud that we got a point with ten men after being one-nil down. 

“It showed our fighting spirit, although we already knew that. Overall if you see the game, we should have won it. 

“We reacted well with ten men. We are hard to beat even against the strongest teams. We keep going even when things don’t go our way and that’s our strong mentality.”