‘Feyenoorder you are for life’

‘Feyenoorder you are for life’
Bryan Linssen

NOS Soccer

  • Luuk Blijboom

    editor of NOS Sports

  • Luuk Blijboom

    editor of NOS Sports

A sloppy 9,300 kilometers separate him from his beloved stadium De Kuip. And yet, championship fever is no less in Saitama, Japan.

For Bryan Linssen may call himself a player of Urawa Red Diamonds since the summer of 2022, but you are a Feyenoord player for life. For anyone who has ever had the red and white shirt around their shoulders, the same is true, it sounds. “That club gets under your skin forever.”

Busy Sunday

A busy and especially long Sunday awaits the 32-year-old center striker this weekend, he says. First, Linssen will take on Osaka Gamba at their own Saitama Stadium. For the encounter with the J-League low-flyer, he is finally assured of a starting place.

In the late evening, around 11:45 p.m., he stretches out on the couch to witness in front of the television how Feyenoord will finally become champions against Go Ahead Eagles if they win.

“So that will be night work. Fortunately, we have a day off at the club on Monday.”

It is a Sunday that Linssen is eagerly looking forward to. Because his Japanese adventure so far has not brought him quite what he expected (and hoped) from it. Linssen clearly has yet to find his feet in Saitama, one of those typical Tokyo dormitory towns with a population of 1.3 million.

“Life in Japan is really in no way comparable to that in Holland. Sometimes it seems like I’m on another planet.”

Amusement arcade

“You can hardly read anything and hardly communicate with people. When I get to the station here in Saitama, I imagine myself in an amusement hall full of slot machines. Lights are flashing everywhere and really everything makes noise.”

Bryan Linssen celebrates a goal for Urawa Red Diamonds

Linssen also has a lot to wish for athletically. The hamstring injury he suffered after only nine minutes on July 23 last year during the friendly game with Paris Saint Germain was to blame for a false start. Since then, he has played 554 minutes in 11 games, in which he scored once.

Still, Linssen does not despair. “We still have 50 games to play this season, I believe,” he said.


The lifeline with Holland, moreover, hangs prominently on the wall of his living room. Moving images of the premier league prove an effective remedy for the bouts of homesickness that sometimes plague him.

Linssen doesn’t miss anything in Japan about the exploits of Feyenoord, the club for which he scored 28 goals in two years. “I still know a lot of guys I played with, of course. Moreover, I have regular contact with Arne Slot and the other people on the technical staff.”

“When we won the Asian version of the Champions League last week, Slot sent me a message to congratulate me. Something like that is very nice, even though I didn’t play a minute in that final.”

Bryan Linssen in the lost Conference League final against AS Roma

In his own words, he does not regret his move to Uwara Reds. Nevertheless, he sometimes thinks back to his time at Feyenoord with a touch of melancholy.

“Playing in De Kuip with 50,000 supporters in the stands who are always behind you, that really can’t be compared to any other club. If you’ve ever been part of that club, you stay that way for the rest of your life.”

Opened hatch

What he misses most about Feyenoord? To walk up the famous stairs from the Rotterdam catacombs and enter the field through the unfolded hatch, where the players are overwhelmed by the deafening cheers rolling from the packed stands.

It’s like many things in life, Linssen sighs. “Only when you don’t experience it anymore do you realize how beautiful and special such moments are.”

Enjoying Slot’s exploits from a distance with appropriate pride is a reasonable alternative. Without claiming any share in the current success, he is happy to have been able to make a small contribution to the foundation of the national title.

“We took a certain path under Slot last year. Because of the successes we achieved with that, everyone in Rotterdam started to believe that winning the national title with this game could be possible. Even though according to many people that didn’t suit Feyenoord. It was very new for everyone.”

Slot is the man to whom all credit is due, Linssen said. “His approach is unique. The way he knows how to touch players before a game is great. He does not emphasize the fact that there is a need to win, he insists that his players are better than the opponent when they perform their tasks well. Winning is then a logical consequence of that.”

Side note

These are words to which Linssen does want to add a comment. “I also want to give the current Feyenoord player group all the credit. That is something that is sometimes lacking these days in all the stories that appear in the media. Don’t forget, it is ultimately the eleven players on the pitch who have to do it all. As soon as they step into the lines, Slot can shout whatever he wants from the sidelines, but the players really don’t hear him in the pandemonium that is De Kuip.”

Slot ahead of championship match: ‘This is not business as usual’

Moreover, his legacy in the point of attack, Linssen notes with great satisfaction, is by no means wasted. When he was over from Japan for a few weeks in December, he became personally acquainted with Mexican striker Santiago Giménez at Feyenoord’s 1908 training complex.

“I saw a lot of myself in him. He also came from a far foreign country into a foreign culture and, like me, needed six months to adapt. With him it didn’t all go the way he wanted either and everyone at Feyenoord hoped it would.”

“Now that he’s found his feet, he’s scoring nicely. It seems like every ball he touches flies into the goal. He needs to take advantage of that. And so should Feyenoord.”


Linssen will quietly celebrate the Rotterdammers’ national title on the night of Sunday to Monday. Laughing, “It’s that I don’t have a single Feyenoord shirt in the cupboard here at home. Otherwise I might have been walking through downtown Tokyo cheering.”

Kayleigh Williams