This is an exclusive interview I did with Tommie Beugelsdijk for The Hague Online and ADO for Expats. Tommie is the club’s cult hero, worshipped by the fans for his fight and attitude during games. Not only is he a favourite in Den Haag, but fans from all other clubs are attracted to this charismatic man. I am lucky enough to be at away games when the team bus arrives and leaves and it is Tommie that all opposition fans call for to get a selfie, and it isn’t just the kids. Even all of the media in Holland have taken him to their hearts. You see them on television saying what a really nice guy he is. So Tommie is a rarity in football, nobody ever says a bad word about him and everybody loves him. So the question is…WHO IS TOMMIE BEUGELSDIJK?
The 26 year old started his career at ADO Den Haag before he was loaned out for a period to FC Dordrecht. He returned to his home club and started to build himself a reputation as a solid, hard working defender. After two seasons he was tempted to leave ADO. Almost going to Birmingham City before deciding to join German side FSV Frankfurt. After one season away he returned to ADO where he was received as a hero by the fans and after some media interviews, hit the headlines..BIG TIME!
So after a training session, I sat with Tommie, he was relaxed and lazed comfortably in a chair and we chatted about his life in general and what happened since his German adventure.
“Germany was very good for me. It made me a better person and a better player. Before going to Frankfurt I had been at ADO since I was ten years old and I was still living at home. So to go to a new country, deal with a new language and having to learn to live alone was a challenge, but it was a good opportunity. I was now independent and that has now made me stronger personally. I learnt a lot, quickly.
German football and their mentality was great. The league was much stronger than here in Holland. Every game was a tough game. The training made me stronger, which was needed as the action there is much more physical. Lots of elbows into ribs etc, but I like that sort of game, so I was loving that challenge. I learned how to be more aware on the pitch in different situations, so now my positioning is better.
In my first year there I played in twenty eight games. Then we got a new trainer. I was called to see him and was told he had two new defenders and wanted to give them a chance. So for me it was over, but that is football and that is what happens.”
So then for Tommie is was all about what lay ahead in his footballing career.
“The good thing for me was that soon as I was available, ADO got in touch with me, wanting me to go back. Many people asked me if I was nervous about going back to my old club, but I was not. I had been playing at a higher level, I was stronger and much more self confident in my abilities. It was not as though I had been playing away in a lesser known league, so I was coming back as a better player and knew what I had to offer.”
Tommie had left ADO as a cult hero, so how did he feel about returning to action in front of the fans who once loved him so much?
“This is my home, my city, my people so didn’t worry about it. At my first game back, when my name was announced, the fans erupted in to singing my name. It felt good, like I had never been away. Then during the game I was sent to warm up as a substitute, as soon as I ran down the line, it seemed like everyone was chanting my name. It gave me kippenvel (Goose bumps) the fans were fantastic, it was a wonderful welcome”
There had been rumours of interest from foreign clubs including Birmingham City and more recently Leeds United.
“Being back in The Hague is great, but yes there was interest. Was I close to going? No, it wasn’t an option for ADO, I have two years on my contract and the club didn’t get any serious bids for me. If they had got a good offer for me, who knows what would have happened. I love English football, always exciting and I watch it a lot. Yes I would love to play there at some time in the future in one of the top two divisions. I talk to Danny Holla about English football now he is back from there and playing at Zwolle. He said it was a great time for him, a much higher level of play. If I could play anywhere, I would love to play for Real Madrid, that would be a dream, my favourite team I support away from Holland is Chelsea, so that would be good too.”
A while back, a clip of an interview you did went viral. The now very famous “Rustaaagh” that has given you the spotlight across the country.
“Yes, that changed things for me, (laughing loudly) Everybody inside football and outside thought it was very funny. The children went crazy over it, they love it, it was a long time ago now, but I still hear every single day. It is good at away games when I get off the bus, the home supporters shout for me, I like it, it is fun. It is a very positive thing for me and the club. I hear it a lot that the journalists like my way of being. I am just me, I treat everyone with respect and am happy to talk to people. I like to deal with people who look me in the eye and show me respect as I respect them. Some players are sort of arrogant and think they are a Messi, I am NO Messi I am just me. Even when walking down the tunnel at away games after the pre match warm up, the opposition fans call to me, sometimes I go to talk and have a selfie, it really is very nice for me.
I know that a Feyenoord fan was seen wearing a Rustaaagh T-shirt in the Kyocera last season. I find it hard to understand. Nobody is ever nasty to me. Everyone just wants to talk to me and when I get to say a few words back, they are very happy. It is true I don’t have problems with any set of supporters, they all seem to just want to have a laugh with me, which I think is great.
I am now used to being stopped and shouted at, in nice ways, for me it is not a problem. But I think if I was Messi or Ronaldo and was been chased by thousands of people every single minute, I would think that was too hard for me, I would find that difficult.”
So what is life like for Tommie away from the football pitch?
“The Rustaaagh thing is as I said an everyday thing. When I am in a restaurant with my family or girlfriend, people do want a photo or an autograph. If it is done respectfully I say “Ok my friend, not while I am eating, but come back after and that is no problem.” Usually people leave me alone when they see I am in a family group.
My girlfriend is really cool with it when we are out. She accepts it really well, not as much as me, but she understands that is is part of the job. She also likes the football and she is at every home game supporting me.
The good thing for me is that I have a very close family. My mother and brother mean everything to me. They support me with everything. My mother took me as a kid to all my training at the ADO youth. My brother also goes to every single game. Even when I was in Germany, he drove eight hours there and back to watch me play in Munich. My family are close, the support has always been strong from them. I can’t thank them enough, I know I am very lucky. I see them almost every day and when I don’t, we always speak on the phone.”
To get another side of this home life, I asked Tommie’s mother, Astrid to tell me what her son is like away from the football and if she has seen him change since becoming the well known ADO player.
“Oh no, Tom is still the same person he was as a little lad. He has never really changed, he still has friends he sees from his primary school days.
Tom and Michel are very close. Michel deserves a lot of credit. He spent a lot of time watching his little brother, Michel is seven years older. Tom also got his first car from him. At that time he was a bit of a father figure for him and now they are best friends. They love each other very much. At least once a week they have a meal together to catch up. They share a lot. Lots of photos on the road and in restaurants and they always have great fun.
I am so proud of my sons who take care of me and do things for me now they are both independent.”
What does Tommie do during his own free Tommie time to relax?
“I like to watch TV series, I really like ‘Homeland’ at the moment. I also relax playing games on my PlayStation. Football games like FIFA and the shoot up games like ‘Call of Duty’ I play against my team mate Aaron Meijers a lot. I always kill him and he gets angry because I am much better than him. (wicked laughing)
With my friends I also like to go out and play darts or pool. I also like to play golf sometimes but my second sport is Tennis. I like to play that a lot. I am not very good at it, but I enjoy it, maybe if I wasn’t a footballer and trained more at tennis I could reach a very good level I think.
I of course like to go on nice holidays, my favourite place is Curacao. It is beautiful, I have been there three times, so easy to relax there. Nice beaches, sit on a beach with good food and a cold beer.
I also like to listen to music. No real favourite bands, but I like listening to House and lounge music. I don’t go to concerts, not something for me. Movies are good, I have to say that I really like the James Bond films. Always exciting and full of action. I could be James Bond?”
Now a few questions I was asked to ask by some kids.
Favourite players? “Growing up my hero was Jaap Stam. He was brilliant, I always looked up to him. Today it is Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid and Gerard Pique from Barcelona.”
Favourite other club? “That has to be Chelsea.”
Who is better, Ronaldo or Messi? “That is hard. Messi is a natural talent, it all comes easy to him by the look of it. Ronaldo, he is a real training beast. He controls everything he does to make himself the best he can be. But if I have to give an answer, I would choose Messi, but I do admire how Ronaldo works.”
What is your favourite drink? “Drink, it has to be Fanta.”
Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the supporters of ADO Den Haag?
“Oh, they are fantastic to me, I thank them a lot. When I hear them singing ‘Tommie Beugelsdijk’ it makes me feel stronger, I want to fight for them and play harder, it makes me feel like I can run through a concrete wall, it drives me to play harder and better.
Sometime we lose a game badly, but I like to think that even then I still fight until the last minute of the game and never give up. This is why I also go to all the supporters at the end of the game and clap them to thank them for the support even when we play badly. I think the fans of ADO respect that if a player tries to the end, they will support him on good and bad days. The fans at ADO are special.”
I really want to thank Tommie and his mother for their time in putting this all together. It was a real pleasure and I wish Tommie much more success in his career.