Meijer goes like comet at Brugge, but also feels pain for old club Groningen
Follows Jong Oranje on behalf of NOS
Follows Jong Oranje on behalf of NOS
It was a separate weekend for Jong Oranje soccer player Bjorn Meijer. On Saturday, his 20th birthday, he went down with Club Brugge at Kortrijk and on Sunday he was a spectator at a painful afternoon of his old club FC Groningen.
“It still started out very nice,” Meijer said Monday morning, with a smile on his face at the press briefing for the Dutch Junior side. The defender, between his ninth and nineteenth child of the club in Groningen, is referring to a nice atmosphere action of the supporters.
Against sc Heerenveen, the Derby of the North, the fans first stood out in a positive sense. With an atmospheric action full of scarves bearing the text “regardless of the score,” they expressed their support in dire times. Groningen is fighting against relegation.
‘Watching with open mouth’
But in the closing stages, trailing 2-0, things went finely wrong. Violence in the stands, culminating in a blow being dealt by a ‘fan’ to player Jetro Willems, who was just trying to calm things down. Meijer saw it all happen.
“I was watching with my mouth open and thought: what’s going on here!!!,” Meijer says. “I was sitting pretty far away, but soon people behind me had a video. Well, that’s hard to watch as an FC Groningen supporter.”
Willems gets hit by own supporter, Groningen-Heerenveen halted
The left-back himself is experiencing better times in Belgium, where he lives in the seaside town of Knokke and plays soccer at Club Brugge, which had some six million euros left for him from the summer.
As a team in the Belgian league, things are going roundly disappointing, resulting in the current fifth place finish. Individually and in Europe, things are going extremely well for Meijer.
Club Brugge won in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen, FC Porto and Atlético Madrid. It made it to the eighth finals, in which Benfica was far too strong (7-1) over two duels.
Meijer played just about everything at Brugge and stood out with his attacking drive and fine goals, including his streak against Benfica. At a 5-0 score in Lisbon, he popped the ball with his instep into the crossbar for the 5-1.
“That goal will always stay with me, even though we went away with a big score. All in all, we had a very nice campaign.”
Help from Vormer in Bruges
The youngster of 1 meter 90 says of himself that he adapts easily, is eager to learn and wants to get better. These are traits that Ruud Vormer immediately recognized in his compatriot.
Until last winter, the 34-year-old Vormer, a former captain who had fallen out of favor, was still a player at Brugge. He has since then been playing on a rental basis for Zulte Waregem. “I still have good contact with Ruud now,” Meijer said.
“We had a bite to eat, I went to his house. When I was substituted for a few duels at Bruges in the beginning, he saw from me that I was struggling and we started talking. That helped me a lot.”
With only 24 premier league matches in his legs, Meijer quickly managed to become a base player in Belgium’s top division. Soccer followers still sometimes say that you have to be a decisive player for a few seasons before making a move abroad.
“There are many routes to get to the top,” Meijer responds. “If you are confident, it can work out. I think it’s also a little calmer in Brugge than if I had played, say, at Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV.”
“Then you are a bit more under a magnifying glass anyway. On the other hand: maybe that’s good for a young boy after all…” Finally, to conclude, “I thought about this step for a long time. And it’s working out well.”