Pascal Struijk: Since I was young, I wanted to play here
Throughout the season, the Match Day schedule includes a feature-length interview with a Leeds United star, at every home game.
We step into life on and off the pitch, giving fans a glimpse into the more personal side and life of our team. Here’s a taste of what you might have missed, and in the future, more of what you can expect to read!
We start our comeback to the season with Pascal Struijk, telling us how he enjoys walking his dogs, playing on PlayStation, wanting to emulate Virgil van Dijk’s performances and working hard under Marcelo Bielsa.
Coming back to earlier in the campaign, how proud were you to make your Premier League debut, at Anfield against Liverpool?
“I was a little nervous about playing my first Premier League game. I had to pull myself together for the game and make sure I was there and above all just enjoying the moment. I don’t know how many times I’m going to play here, I hope a lot, but enjoy the moment, see how they are, see how good they are, try 100% and try to be better than them. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It’s just nice to play against that kind of level, and these world class players. The only thing I can do is enjoy it and take it home. Ever since I was younger I’ve always wanted to play in the best league in the world, and I have to say I think it’s the Premier League. The level is so high, every team is good, so since I was a young boy I really wanted to play here.
You had to be patient to try your luck in the team, but you recently signed a new contract showing how much appreciated you are, how important it was to you?
“Yeah, well that’s the manager’s decision, but every time I come I make sure I give him 100%. Well, all I have to do is make sure I give it 100% and then whatever decision the manager makes is up to him. All I can do is give my 100%. The signing of a new contract recently gave me a big boost, it obviously shows the confidence they have in me, all I can do is make sure I can prove them right in this that they proposed to me.
✍️ #LUFC are pleased to announce that Pascal Struijk has signed a new agreement until summer 2024
– Leeds United (@LUFC) November 20, 2020
You have also shown your versatility to the team, which is an important trait Marcelo Bielsa looks for in his players. Do you have a privileged position?
“I played longer as a midfielder so it’s a bit more comfortable, but I don’t mind playing as a midfielder. I think playing in Ajax’s academy I have this game of positioning and ball control, so I think playing as a defensive midfielder takes a lot, because the standards are very high in Premier League. I didn’t play Ajax for very long, only two years. The only thing I did there was make sure I got better and then bring all the things I learned there to my next destination, and that was Leeds.
Are you inspired by other Dutch players around the world? You can also represent Holland, Belgium or Indonesia at the international level, is it good to have all these possibilities?
“Yes, of course there are some really good players to watch out for. I would like to see myself playing at the same level as Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, all the players who are not only from Ajax, but from the Dutch players. I want to make sure I’m working hard and being at their level. For the international, I would just like to see where I can get my interest. So if Holland is interested, but Belgium is still an option for me. I spoke with their manager, and it gives me possibilities for reflection. I think everyone has their own path and everyone has their own path, and I’m trying to find mine.
How much do you think Marcelo has developed you as a player?
“A lot. He has so many different exercises to improve people in all aspects of the game, and all I can do every day is learn. It’s a lot of fun at Leeds United, everyone here is good players, very young, and it’s always a laugh in training.
Apart from football, what have you been doing during the season when you were not on the pitch?
“Well, I haven’t done too much! I like to walk in the park with the dogs and my partner. I love playing PlayStation, other than that I don’t do much! After the promotion, some people saw me, and I was like “oh, that’s funny”! I’m happy to see people who recognize me, it’s nice. I also have two dogs, I think you saw them on my instagram photos. I have a redhead, her name is Lily, and the brunette is called Coda. They are still playing, running around each other, chasing each other!
She said yes ! Congratulations Pascal and Abby on your engagement! pic.twitter.com/xvjiaehWdf
– Leeds United (@LUFC) June 13, 2021