‘I have to be neutral everywhere except soccer’

‘I have to be neutral everywhere except soccer’
Willem-Alexander in 1982 with Johan Cruijff (l) in the Ajax dressing room

NOS News

That King Willem-Alexander is a soccer fan was already known. That he cheers especially for Ajax in doing so was suspected by many. But now, in the podcast Through the Eyes of the King, as far as we know for the first time, publicly expressed his fondness for the Amsterdam club. In conversation with radio DJ Edwin Evers, he explained that his fondness for Ajax arose as a child, after meeting Johan Cruijff at halftime of a soccer match.

The Ajax icon then told then-Prince Willem-Alexander that he would wave at him if he scored a goal, which eventually happened. “That’s where my love for Ajax started,” the king said in the podcast, whose fourth episode was released today. “I have to be neutral in all areas of my life, except soccer,” he believes.

According to Willem-Alexander, soccer players are the best ambassadors for a country. As examples, apart from Cruijff, he mentions Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. During his visits abroad, he always comes across people who know these names, the king says. “Sometimes you hear strange accents and you really have to figure out who they mean, but these people know them all.”

Netherlands or Argentina

About international matches, the king says he has made arrangements “internally, before our marriage” with his wife Máxima, who is from Argentina. When the Netherlands plays against Argentina, as at the last World Cup, she is for the Netherlands. “My wife is Dutch, she is the queen of the Netherlands,” he said. In contrast, Willem-Alexander says, “If Argentina plays and it’s not against the Netherlands, I’m always for Argentina.”

Incidentally, there are rumors that Máxima is for Feyenoord. Then-PEC Zwolle coach Ron Jans let slip that in 2015 after speaking briefly with Willem-Alexander.

Podcast due to anniversary

The podcast Through the eyes of the King is commissioned by the Government Information Service to mark Willem-Alexander’s tenth anniversary on the throne. There are ten episodes in total; in each edition, the king looks back on a year in his reign. This time it was 2016, the year Johan Cruijff died.

Kayleigh Williams