Dutch invasion of Hertha BSC: ‘I don’t speak German. I verstehe ein bisschen’

“Oh, no! I don’t speak German. I versteste ein bisschen.” During his presentation at Hertha BSC in early August it became clear that Deyovaisio Zeefuik needs some more lessons in German. However, at the Berlin club the language seems to be almost Dutch.

“There are indeed a number of players here who can understand Dutch”, confirmed Zeefuik, who came over from FC Groningen, laughing, after losing a practice game with Ajax with his new club (1-0). About the Dutch enclave at Hertha later more.

Because it’s a strange soccer night in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Because of the corona measures, 6,000 fans are allowed to be present, neatly divided over the stadium. They are not allowed to sing or cheer and after a goal they are only allowed to clap.

This makes the race sound like you’re standing on a drizzling Sunday morning in a world without a corona in a third division. The bleachers look like a moderately crowded cinema at a bad movie on that same drizzling Sunday.

At the end of the match it is mainly Ajacied Daley Blind, who collapses twelve minutes before time, when his internal defibrillator goes off. The Dutch in German service don’t really get that.

For Zeefuik the match was, as agreed beforehand, already finished after 45 minutes. While at Groningen he grew into a raging rightback with an enormous drive to the front, his task against Ajax is mainly limited to defending.

He fights duels with Ajax captain Dusan Tadic, physically one of the strongest on the field. Strainer stands his ground. “Defending I was good, but attacking I had few options.

The defender with the characteristic low socks wants to go forward, but often simply cannot get rid of the ball. “Then I’d have to give it back or force it forward. We have to work on that, because my goal this season is to get into the picture with the Orange.”

Karim Rekik

One other Dutchman at Hertha does become dangerous in that first half. A header by central defender Karim Rekik is just over Maarten Stekelenburg’s goal. Rekik also plays a solid but inconspicuous duel.

In the Netherlands we know him from his time at PSV and the way he celebrated the country title on the Stadhuisplein in 2015, by letting the fans sing his own name (“Karim Rekiki”). After that frenzied party he left for Olympique Marseille. In 2017 he joined Hertha BSC.

“I feel very much at home in Berlin and at this club. And every year new Dutch people join, so that’s just fun”, says Rekik in the catacombs of the Johan Cruijff Arena, where, in addition to Zeefuik and Rekik, two compatriots make minutes for Hertha

Now more Dutch

In the second half it is the turn of attackers Javairรด Dilrosun and Daishawn Redan. The 22-year old outfielder Dilrosun made his debut at the end of 2018 under then national coach Ronald Koeman in the Nations League game with Germany.

The 19-year-old striker Redan was leased to FC Groningen in the past six months, but there he got no further than five matches, because the competition was shut down due to the coronavirus.

Redan, a boy with usually a nose for the goal, could certainly have scored against Ajax. At first he dawns too long, so Perr Schuurs is just able to intervene, shortly after that he hits the post.

So we have Zeefuik, Rekik, Dilrosun and Redan; four Dutchmen at Hertha BSC. But there is one more. “Yes that’s right, my little brother would be there today, too,” says Rekik. “But he hadn’t been tested for the coronavirus yet, and that was a condition to travel.”

Rekik junior coming

There where Karim went, there was Omar. In the youth of Feyenoord, Manchester City, PSV, Olympique Marseille and now Hertha. Wherever big brother Rekik came to play soccer, Omar joined the youth. In the meantime, he has also made a name for himself in his youth.

Omar Rekik turns out to have defensive talent just like his brother. According to Eindhovens Dagblad, several premier league clubs have already expressed their interest. “I’ve read that too”, says Karim Rekik.

During his rental period at PSV, where he successfully formed the central duo with Jeffrey Bruma, the older Rekik even put himself in the spotlight with the Dutch, for which he played four games so far.

“The only advice I can give Omar is that he should feel good about something right away when you take a step. When I first joined PSV, it felt right away and I was like: I see myself coming here every day.”