On the side of twin brother Dennis, Gérard de Nooijer grew into one of the faces of Sparta in the nineties. For ten years he defended the red and white. The castle felt like his living room. Until De Nooijer opted for new challenges in 1998. Now hes back on the old nest. As assistant to trainer Henk Fraser.
“ Club boy on his Spartan “is above the stands on Spangen. De Nooijer knows exactly what that means. “That youre in a club thats kind of a family. Where, once youve played there, you can always go again. You can see that in me.”
As rookies, Gérard and Dennis de Nooijer made the step from their trusted Zeeland to the big city in 1986. Sparta had set his sights on Dennis, who had impressed as the top scorer of RCS Oost-Souburg. “But Dennis said, “Ill only come if my brother comes with me.”
The twin brothers had to get used to playing and living in Rotterdam. “I had played a year as a senior in Zeeland, came here as A-junior. And then you actually have to start over.”
“ I was on a tram for the first time in my life. And I ended up in a very hard world. At the stadium I had to deal with players and trainers who talked, thought and played football completely differently.”
The adaptability of Gérard and Dennis was put to the test. “Certainly in the beginning. We always traveled by train. Two and a half hours back and forth. Fortunately, the two of us were. But you have to keep it up. The advantage was that I always played. I ended up with Sparta for 12 years. You dont just do that.”
Dennis and defender Gérard were the backbone of the Sparta of the 1990s. Together they appeared a lot in the media, as the second most famous football twins in the Netherlands, after Frank and Ronald de Boer. “Dennis and I came together a lot. And thats what we looked up a little bit.”
After twelve years on Het Kasteel casted the twins to sc Heerenveen, at that time sporting and financially a progress. Dennis later returned to Sparta on a rental basis, Gérard played for Feyenoord and Dordrecht after Heerenveen.
At that last club he also took his first steps as a trainer in paid football. After a Chinese adventure, as a youth trainer at Dalian Istar, it finally came to a return to his old love after 22 years.
“ Now that Im back, I come across all old acquaintances. Nico Jalink, Dolf Roks, Henk van Ste. With Frank Kooiman I even played football in my youth.”
“ That has to do with that red-white heart. Ask the supporters, too. Once youre Spartan, it wont go away. I always took that feeling, wherever I played football. So when they asked me back here, I didnt have to think long.”
Reunion with Sparta was initially a painful affair, when assistant trainer De Nooijer literally collided with striker Reda Kharchouch. “They asked me to defend. Im never gonna do that again. I just had a triple jaw fracture! Thats later for jokes.”
Good old days
Most of all, De Nooijer has a good time at his old club. He notes that nowadays things are much more professional than in his time. But with all the familiar faces around it it is also often about the good old days.
“ We have discussions about the football of the past. Then you get stuck in the romance, that it was all better then. Football has become much quicker. But in our heads, and among themselves, we found ourselves much better.”