Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball

From Dutch youth football to working with Google Ireland

For many years, the Netherlands was classed among the leading nation when it came to the developm...

From Dutch youth football to w...

From Dutch youth football to working with Google Ireland

For many years, the Netherlands was classed among the leading nation when it came to the development of young footballers.

For a country of its size, it's produced some of the greatest players to have touched a ball.

Think Johan Cruyff, Dennis Bergkamp or one of our past interviewees Johan Neeskens!

This week on Team 33, a former youth player who knows what it's like in the Dutch youth system joined us.

NAC Breda

Erik van Rijthoven has just moved to Dublin to work with Google. But previously he was in the youth system at NAC Breda.

The Dutch club are currently in the top flight Eredivisie and the town of Breda also happens to be the hometown of Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk.

So Van Rijthoven took time out to chat to Ciaran Bradley and I about his experience in the NAC youth ranks.

You can listen to the full podcast here, or on iTunes. It's 37 minutes into the podcast after a chat on Liverpool and bottle jobs and before the discussion on Red Bull's football empire

From Dutch youth football to working with Google Ireland

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One area the Ajax fan gave us an insight on was how sport and education are effectively blended. And it was quite strict.

"They take your education very seriously. In my club for example, at the end of every school period, we had to give our grades to the school," he said.

"If your grades weren't really sufficient, they would take you out of the first team as well. They would bench you for a game for example until your grades start improving.

"We also had affiliate schools where you could go. I didn't go there myself but some other kids in the team did. That's where you'd get extra support and they would really adapt your schedule so you could make it to training."

Van Rijthoven also told us about how much more regularly training took place in comparison to here in Ireland.

Van Dijk's hometown

And the stereotype about Dutch youth football's attachment to 4-3-3 is accurate.

"I can't remember a single time when we played with a different formation," said Van Rijthoven, before joking, "It seems to be the way God intended the Dutch to play football. It's almost holy thing for the Dutch in youth football to play 4-3-3."

And on Van Dijk, he never actually played for NAC. But his promise was evident early on in the the Breda streets.

"I do know some friends of mine who used to play with him on the streets in our city," he said.

"And he was already like a tough guy. Not the kind of defender that you want to meet as a striker. "

You can listen to the full podcast above and follow @teamthirtythree on Twitter.

Apart from Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Arsenal Fan TV founder Robbie Lyle, recent interviews on Team 33 include:

Andrei Kanchelskis 

Niall Quinn

Carlton Palmer

Alessandro Pistone 

Bobby Tambling and Paddy Mulligan

Johan Neeskens

Darius Vassell

David Fairclough

Mark Kinsella

Eric Lichaj 

Tomasz Radzinski.

Plus our in-depth chats with Tony CotonPackie BonnerNobby SolanoRon Atkinson and Alan Curbishley are still available on iTunes. You can find them all in one place by subscribing to Team 33 on iTunes.

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Ajax Dublin Eredivisie Erik Van Rijthoven Google Ireland NAC Breda Netherlands Team 33 Virgil Van Dijk