‘Half base team gone is too much of a good thing’

‘Half base team gone is too much of a good thing’

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Veldmate leaves after ‘fantastic’ years at Ajax: ‘Last year changed a lot’

‘Master scout’ Henk Veldmate does not want to be seen as FC Groningen’s savior. “No, because that will very quickly take on a life of its own. That’s not what I want and that’s not who I am,” Veldmate said.

Troubled FC Groningen, which is on the verge of relegation, announced Wednesday that the man who brought Luis Suarez, Dusan Tadic and Virgil van Dijk, among others, to the north will be back on the old nest starting this summer after eight years.

The 66-year-old Veldmate spent the past seven years with as head scout at Ajax, where he was partly responsible for attracting such players as Nico Tagliafico, Lisandro Martínez Edson Álvarez and Antony. At the end of the season, his contract expires and he will leave for the club where he was previously active for 33 years.

Scout said he was not (yet) in negotiations with Ajax for a new contract, but wanted to stay on the job. “I still have enough energy and still feel fit. That I can do that at the club where I have a whole history is nice.”

Under Veldmate’s leadership, Ajax’s acquisitions included Antony, Lisandro Martínez and Edson Álvarez (V.L.N.R)

Veldmate says he looks back on his time in Amsterdam with a good feeling. He is proud to have played a role in Ajax’s national and European successes in recent years.

The man who also continued to live in Groningen during his Ajax time does indicate that a lot has changed at the club in the past year. “When a couple of technical directors, two trainers and half a basic team leave, that’s too much of a good thing. As a result, Ajax has also experienced the necessary problems…”

According to him, the difficult past year was not the immediate reason for leaving Ajax. In view of the expiring contract, he wondered if he wanted to enter the new phase at Ajax. “With new people and maybe a new structure.”

Asking how the Amsterdammers will remember him, he answered modestly. “You have to ask them that. I’m someone who wants to stay in the background, so a lot of people don’t know me either. I’ve been at Champions League games of Ajax, where nobody recognized me. That felt good.”


In Groningen, Veldmate is well known. Given his “track record,” expectations are high. “I can contribute and boost, but you can only do that if you do it together with the people who are already there,” Veldmate said.

Veldmate was involved in Groningen’s acquisition of Luis Suárez

At Groningen, Veldmate will hold the position of international scout starting June 15 of this year. There is a thought behind that job title, according to director Wouter Gudde. Veldmate does not want too much publicity and therefore a role as technical manager would not suit him.

Because Veldmate is returning, a technical manager will not also be appointed. “We have mainly looked at how we can best allow Henk to function,” Gudde said.

It seems that his job title will not quite cover it. I will also be in close contact with the management, technical staff, head scout and the boss of soccer training,” says Veldmate.

Among the people he will deal with at Groningen will be coach Dick Lukkien, who is coming over from FC Emmen at the end of the season. Veldmate, who signs for three years, has worked with him before.


Veldmate is aware that he finds in Groningen a club that is definitely not in good shape. “It is worrisome where the club is now,” he said.

‘Master scout’ Veldmate on returning to Groningen: ‘Felt right away’

“It’s also a bit unreal, but you can’t close your eyes to reality. It is the way it is, so we are now going to prepare for two scenarios, because you have to take into account that you get relegated” continued Veldmate.

The experience he gained at Ajax comes in handy. “There in the beginning I had to get very used to the higher segment of players you could draw from to bring the quality the club needs.”

At Groningen, he will also have to switch between different “segments” again. Veldmate acknowledges that a challenge awaits him. “The club is not on the stage where it should be,” he said.

So he doesn’t want fans to think that glory days will return because of him. “I haven’t scored a goal in the last five years,” he said.

Kayleigh Williams