‘Was broken after two sprints’
Kökçü on first training session Slot: ‘Was forced to face the facts’
He is hugely fit, gives schwung to Feyenoord and is more decisive than ever before. There is no room for doubt: Orkun Kökcü is the man, the star player at the Rotterdammers this season. The captain can crown an excellent season with a national championship.
Kökçü (22) has been experiencing an advance since the summer of 2021. The first training sessions under coach Arne Slot’s reign began then. The Turkish international had just played an EC, went on vacation and joined later.
Anything but fit. “But I thought I could handle it all,” Kökçü told me a few weeks ago, just before the return against AS Roma in the Europa League.
So that first training session was disappointing. “I was completely exhausted after two sprints,” the midfielder looked back on it with a smile. “Most of the guys had already been on the field a number of times, so I was taken aback. I don’t want to take anything away from my previous trainers, but under Slot the intensity was immediately higher.”
And Kökçü is now reaping the benefits of that, as especially this season the 22-year-old dribbler seems tireless. “At the beginning of my career after I was completely empty after seventy minutes, but now I still want to score a goal in the closing stages.”
I have to keep working extremely hard to reach my potential.
In addition to training hard on the pitch, the Feyenoord captain is also more active in the gym. “At the club we have a good physical staff and performance coaches. Usually I’m there two days a week for workouts.”
“I know about myself that I have to keep working really hard to reach my potential,” concluded Kökçü, who knows that all that plodding will be rewarded. Soon, with a national championship.
If PSV lose points at Sparta on Saturday, Feyenoord can grab the title next Sunday with a win at Excelsior. If Feyenoord do not become champions then, they will have the chance to become champions at their own Kuip on Sunday, May 14. Go Ahead Eagles will then be the opponent.