‘Tickets Europa League already booked!’

‘Tickets Europa League already booked!’

NOS Football

When the final whistle sounds in the Galgenwaard after ninety minutes of regular playing time and six minutes of injury time, a huge celebration erupts in the Spakenburg away box.

‘We just pull it off’

“If you believe in yourself and with God’s will, you can do anything,” coach Chris de Graaf concludes in a raspy voice on the radio at Langs de Lijn En Omstreken. Spakenburg’s proud coach immediately after the game does not yet realize what his club has just accomplished.

“I started here as a five-year-old kid and now we’re just in the semifinals of the cup. This is so beautiful. Look at all those people, this is brilliant. In the Galgenwaard we just did it.”

Meanwhile, in the dressing room, Spakenburg’s players are building a party. “I already booked the tickets for the Europa League!” jubilates Wimilio Vink in front of ESPN’s camera. The creator of the 1-0 knows that the winner of the KNVB Cup will be allowed into Europe next season.

Spakenburg is only the third amateur club to reach the semifinals of the KNVB Cup since the introduction of professional soccer in 1956. Never before has an amateur club reached the final. Spakenburg’s next opponent comes from one of the three remaining quarter-finals: sc Heerenveen-Feyenoord (Wednesday), PSV-ADO Den Haag and De Graafschap-Ajax (Thursday).

Stop it, shut up

Captain Floris van der Linden, who made it 4-1, had traveled to Utrecht thinking “something was possible.” “But this? Stop it, cut it out, nobody believes this.”

Like the rest of the team, Van der Linden’s disbelief prevails. “I can say I already realize it, but I don’t think so. That’s still to come, I think.”

Disbelief is also dripping off the faces of FC Utrecht’s players, but over the defeat. “This just can’t be explained,” visibly disappointed captain Mike van der Hoorn told ESPN.

“We have to deal with this, this is a hard blow for us.” Much of the home crowd chanted “shame on you” en masse and drooped well before the end of the match. “More than justified,” Van der Hoorn concluded.

“You just can’t lose 4-1 to a team that plays two levels lower, at home,” thinks Bart Ramselaar, who was in action for half an hour as a substitute. Asked if this is the biggest blamage of his soccer career, he replied, “Yes, I think so.”

The Spakenburg party is likely to continue deep into the night. “Last time it was 4 a.m., it will be a bit later this time,” expects captain Van der Linden. “I think I won’t go to work tomorrow.”

Kayleigh Williams