|Netherlands face Ireland at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships without Teun De Nooijer|
|Written by ehfnews|
As the Dutch Men’s team open their TriFinance EuroHockey Championships without their recently retired tallisman Teun de Nooijer and face Ireland at 6pm today in Boom, it seems like a perfect time to reflect on his marvelous career. Teun joins Natascha Keller and Santi Frexia in the EHF Hall of Fame on 24th August 2013.
Interview with Teun de Nooijer
By Cathy Harris
Teun Floris de Nooijer, is, quite simply, one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game. The 37-year-old ended his record-breaking international career at the London Olympics with a silver medal before stepping down from all hockey after collecting the European Hockey League title with his club Bloemendaal.
Eighteen years at the top is a long time but the charismatic Dutchman always took care of his body. Always trained at 100%. Always obeyed the rules and ate and drank the right things. In short, he was always the perfect role model.
And he always wore the number 14 shirt in honour of the Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff who played for Ajax, de Nooijer’s beloved football club.
But there were other ways to recognize de Nooijer on the pitch. In his early days there was that mop of curly hair, since replaced by a sensible short back and sides. There were those jinking runs where he glided round opponents, the defence-splitting passes, breath taking acceleration and of course, those stunning goals.
Modest to a fault, he confesses he was completely taken aback to receive the phone call informing him about the Hall of Fame. “It was great” he said. “I think it’s a very nice initiative and really good for hockey to start it. I’m so looking forward to travelling to Boom to join in the celebrations.”
At least he’ll have time to enjoy such occasions because for years his summers have been taken up training, preparing for or taking part in a major tournament. His days now are spent with coaching at Bloemendaal and he’ll even be coaching his two older daughters Philine (13) and Lilli (11) next season. Young Nanna (8) is just biding her time.
There’s also the TDNA (Teun de Nooijer Academy) which operates in the town next to Bloemendaal and which has proved to be a huge success. De Nooijer has been involved in it for about six years and companies and individuals are guided through how to maximise on their talent. How to set goals and work together as a team. Subjects de Nooijer knows all about.
His expertise on the pitch has been well rewarded having represented the Netherlands a world record 453 times scoring 219 goals. His extraordinary collection of medals is kept, quite seriously, in a box although he does admit he’s going to have to do something with it soon! Following his international retirement he was named a Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau, a royal honour for those who have earned special merits for society.
He’s reluctant to pick out any particularly special memory saying it detracts from the others but admits the World Cup in Utrecht in 1998 (when he scored the golden goal winner against Spain) was pretty special and an all-round wonderful party atmosphere event.
Needless to say the lows include an uncharacteristic poor 7th finish at the 2006 World Cup and finishing fourth at the Beijing Olympics after letting Spain off the hook in the semi-finals.
Believe it or not the toughest opponent he ever encountered was his brother Jeroen, three years his senior. De Nooijer laughs about it now: “He was bigger and stronger than me and in all the games we played on the street and the one-on-ones he always got the better of me. He knew my game so well.”
Over such a long and distinguished career several coaches made their mark and he singles out Roelant Oltmans, Terry Walsh, Maurtis Hendriks and Bloemendaal coach and former Great Britain Olympic gold medallist Russell Garcia.
With a bit more time on his hands, Teun is looking forward to spending more time with his three daughters and his wife Philippa, a former Germany international. “It’s a long time since we have been able a summer holiday but we still enjoy taking the dogs and kids down to the beach, or going to the movies or local restaurants.”
Any regrets? He still keeps fit, does some running and is on his bike and even gets a stick in his hand every now and then. “I’ll miss training as a group, the locker room, big tournaments and important matches. And I’ll miss not having to strive really hard for the best but I managed to be around for so long because I always tried to do it with a smile on my face.” Now there’s a lesson for us all.
HONOURS BOARD AT A GLANCE
- World record 453 caps
- World Cup winner 1998
- Double Olympic gold medallist 1996, 2000
- Double Olympic silver medallist 2004, 2012
- Five time Olympian 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
- EuroHockey Nations Championship winner 2007
- Three time FIH Player of the Year 2003, 2005, 2006
- Six time Champions Trophy gold medallist 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006
- Nine time national club champion with Bloemendaal 1993, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006-10
- Triple European club champion 2001, 2009, 2013
- Twice Euro Hockey League Most Valuable Player 2009, 2013.
Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek ©