Although he didn’t play so much, Mick van Buren won the heart of all Slavia fans. Why? Especially with his attidute, courage and his ability to make the team play better. Now, he recovers from another injury that ruled him out of play for the start of the season. But nothing changes. He’s still the energetic fellow who never moves away from anything. When is he planning the expected return? Check out the interview to find out even more!
Back in the game
Hi Mick, We’d like to start with a tricky question. If you wanted to describe who Mick van Buren is, how would you do it?
„I’m a person, who worked hard to achieve where he is right now. I’m able to adapt to many things. For example I had to adapt to the football that’s played in the Czech League, which is not easy at all. A lot of players leave after not even half of the year because it’s really difficult. I also try to appreciate everything around me, my friends, achievements and even the opportunity to be here. It’s important to keep the humility and to stay with your feet on the ground, everything comes back to you.“
You’ve just returned from a practice, how do you feel?
„Amazing. I slowly start running on the field and do some stuff with the ball. I missed that so much so I’m happy that it’s finally back. I feel like I have just a one more step to take and I can practice regularly with the boys.“
Can you describe the feeling when you got injured again?
„It was terrible. I was ready to play and then three days before the league was about to start it happened. It was really frustrating, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. In these times your have to switch up your mind and concentrate on the recovery. You can’t change the fact that you’re injured. I didn’t think about it and I did everything I could to be back as soon as possible.“
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Do you remember how did it happen?
„It was during a practice, right before the league started. We played four on four. I got the ball in front of the goal a little bit before the goalie got there. The ball was in the air, I kicked it but my other leg got hit by the goalie. And it wasn’t good. You could hear the noise, just like when something breaks or cracks. I didn’t really realized it was that bad, that it could be broken. Afterwards, I was on my way to the hospital and the RTG showed the fracture.“
What helped you with your return?
„For the first three weeks I returned home to Netherlands because I couldn’t really do anything by then. It helped me physically because I had my family and my friends around. It charged me with energy and when I returned to Prague, I was ready to start working hard again. My biggest motivation was to stand on the field with the boys again. Maybe during November, it seems more and more realistic. I was still telling myself that not a reason to give up. It could be worse. It’s not gonna be two years but just a couple of months.“
What is it like to watch your teammates on the pitch while you had to be in the stands with a brace on your leg?
„It is really weird. You always wish that the boys won so I was really happy from every three points we got to add on our account. Although I can’t play or fully practice with the team, I still feel like I’m a part of the team. But it is really weird, everyone wants to play. When you can’t be on the pitch, it is a huge pressure on your head. I kept repeating to myself that I will make it. That this pause is necessary. If I kept worrying about the fact that I can’t be fully part of the team.. It would be much worse for me. I just tried to stick to the plan – November will be yours!“
The team plays well, we’re on top of the league and we showed a really good two performances in the Europa League. What’s the biggest change under the new coach Trpišovský?
„The gameplay, it changed a lot. We run much more, everyone could feel it during the preseason. I think that we are more attack minded too. Once we get the ball, the first thought is to go up and try to score. The Coach keeps telling us to attack. I like it. After all, you can see that basically every game our attackers have many chances to score and there are a lot of goals to be seen too. It’s great for us attacking players.“
So it suits you well?
„Yes, I enjoy it. I’ve had couple of problems at first, it really isn’t as easy as it looks like, but you get better with the time. It’s all about the right movement of all the players on the field. The first preseason was rough for us, but I feel like I adapted pretty well. When I got the chance, I tried not to drop it down the floor, I scored too! But then the Prague derby came and I got injured. I felt incredible until the, I was ready and I accomplished everything the coach asked for. It was really similar this summer, but then another injury came. I know what people expect from em and I’m sure that I will satisfy their desires. I just need to get back to the game now.“
Where do you see Slavia at the end of the season?
„We can win the league again. We play a great football at the same time, we have a quality offense and strong defense. Nothing less than the league title isn’t a topic for us. In the Europa League we have some quality opponents, but I think that we can advance. Ending up at the first is gonna be difficult. If we advance, it’s really gonna be depending on the draw and who are we gonna meet in the knockout stage. I was surprised myself how well we played. In all four games we showed the Europe that we know how to play football. Everyone had troubles with us. It is really hard to defeat us, I feel like we’re on a good way.“
What’s the biggest difference between the European clubs and us?
„I think it’s the creativity in the attack. We have a lot of shot from outside of the box but you can’t always count it as a 100% chance. That’s how we failed to bring any points home from Russia. We played great, but the 100% chances wasn’t enough. These clubs have a big quality, they’re worldwide known. Zenit had two chances in the whole game and scored one goal. We should’ve won or at least take a point back home. We brought nothing and now we can regret that. I don’t think our opponents are better than us.“
I believe I will show more!
It’s been your third season in Slavia now, are you satisfied with your career here?
„We could say yes, I am. I’m satisfied with what I’ve done when I was able to play and was healthy. I’m really happy that I am here, I’m just sad about the injuries. I believe I can show more!“
Your arrival to Slavia wasn’t easy, you basically didn’t play for the A-team for the first half of the season. Why was it like that?
„It was all about getting used to the fact that I play in Prague now. For the first couple of months I tried to figure out how is the football played in here and I tried to get used to it. Maybe the coach was a little bit scared to put me in. He might thought that I’m all focused on attacking and that I don’t care about the defense. It all changed during our summer preseason when I showed him that I can do anything for the team success.“
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
„I see the aggression and speed as my main strengths. I’m vigorous, which I can use in many aspects. I’m well orientated when it comes to a collision, I can beat the opponent in one on one. If I have enough of space around me, I can be dangerous. I feel like I could be much better in situations when I don’t have much time to work with the ball and I can’t use my speed that much. My left foot could be better too. I wanna get better in headers, especially finishing. I can jump pretty high and win the header, but when it comes to the finishing, I need to aim better and be more effective.“
You’re in Prague for three years now. Where do you see the biggest difference between the Czech Republic and the Netherlands?
„People in Netherlands are much more open. It happen to me sometimes that people didn’t really want to talk or give any advise here. Of course, not everyone is like that. I was really surprised then. But I like Prague, it is a multicultural city, you can find everything what you even think of here. Moreover a lot of people speak english here which is amazing. I’m just not sure what I would do if I lived in a village (laugh). “
What do you do in your free time?
„I like to drink a coffee, so Karlín is a great place for me, you can find a lot of nice and friendly cafes where you can go and get a breakfast for example.I spend a lot of time on Chodov too, we go there with my teammates. If I mentioned couple of sightseeings, I have to say that I always admired the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge, that’s just gorgeous.“
Your family often supports you right at the game. What are their thoughts about Slavia?
„It’s ideal for them because the flight from Netherlands is just about an hour long. They like it here and they’re happy that I’m happy.“
When did they come to see you play the last time?
„Well, I haven’t played for a pretty long while now, so it was usually my friends who came to visit me. I sat with them during the match against Příbram or during the cup game. The last time my parents came was the start of the season, when the injury happened. They wanted to go to Olomouc and support me during the match, but in the end they stayed home with me and helped me.“
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Thanks to your attitude, you’re one of the fans‘ favorite. What does it feel like when the whole stadium shouts your name?
„It is fantastic. When you’re back on the field after an injury and you an hear them chanting your name, it motivates you. Every time there’s a new signing, the expectations are high. It was similar in Esbjerg but here it’s much bigger. I always worked on 100%, I left everything on the field. The people see it and respect me as a player. I do everything I can to show that I deserve to be here.“
You played around 30 competitive games in our jersey. Which one stays in your memory the most?
„It is really difficult to pick just one. Of course that for me, an important match was against Mladá Boleslav when I scored my first league goals. We can also mention the 2nd leg against Apoel at home. I was supposed to start on the bench, but Milan Škoda got injured and the coach chose me to take the spot in the starting eleven. We played very well that day, had lots of chances. Above that the atmosphere was incredibly electric. I remember it just like it was yesterday. Unfortunately we didn’t score and we failed to advance to the next round. I like to think about games against Villarreal too because we showed everyone that we can play against big and quality teams.“
If we scored against Apoel, would it be any different?
„Yes I think it would. It really wasn’t their day then, they came to defend from the first minute. We were controlling the game, especially in the second half. We all felt that if we score a goal, we will make it and proceed to the next round. Unfortunately it didn’t work, that’s what football is like sometimes.“
Details make the team
It’s well known about Slavia that there’s good chemistry inside of the team. How do you personally feel it?
„We are all friends together. We’re amazing group of people and we work as a perfect team. That’s very important. It was similar in other teams I played in but the main difference here is that we all spend time together pretty often, not just during practices or other events.“
With who do you talk the most?
„I talk a lot to Alex Baluta and Marko Alvir. Before that I was a good friend with Flo because we’ve had a lot of in common. Our countries have similar culture. I like talking to Frydrych too but I’m really okay with everyone there. Just like I said, we’re a great team.“
Armin van Buuren, interesting name, right?
„Oh yes. It is actually really funny. A lot of fans made fun of it so I told myself I will answer in a positive way. That’s why you can see that celebration on the screen when I score a goal. Guys in the locker room asked me immediately if he’s my brother. We keep joking around about that.“
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Do you listen to his music?
„Not so much. I listen more to music that’s played on the radio or music that appears in some top charts.“
Slavia is back in the video game FIFA after a while, what do you think about your rating?
„I saw it and I quite agree with it. Maybe they could increase my speed a bit. It’s also pretty funny that they’ve made a leftie from me although my dominant foot is right. I don’t know where they take those information. On the other hand it is obvious that they’re not gonna know about Slavia as much as they know about Juventus for example.“
What do the boys from team say about it?
„We keep making jokes about everything so this isn’t an exception. For example from Sýkora because everyone says that he looks super fat in the game. But it’s amazing to be able to play for yourself.“
First football steps
Who introduced you to football?
„My dad did. Football runs in the family, my dad used to play for Excelsior. It was a semi-pro team by then. My grandpa used to play for Feyenoord, he has also six international starts for Netherlands. It’s in our blood.“
Did you want to become a footballer when you started with it?
„When I started playing, I didn’t think about it at all. I just wanted to have fun. As I was getting older, I started practicing with professional clubs and that was a time when I realized yes, this is what I really wanna do.“
Have you played every time as forvard?
„Yes, now in Slavia I played on the side couple of times but I’m okay with it.“
You were in Feyenoord for a while too. Why it didn’t work out over there?
„I was part of their U-19 team. There was no B-team then, not even a youth team like here. They told me that the step to their A-team is too big for me and that’s why I went to Excelsior. Thanks to this move I got to taste what a adult football is. In my second season I was a number one choice in attack and I scored 13 goals. It was a great start.“
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What do you think is the biggest difference between Dutch and Czech football?
„When I watch the matches in Eredivisie, I can’t believe my eyes! I’m used to run, be in a movement all the time but they’re all just standing there! I keep telling myself „damn, they’re not even moving!“ The coach would be furious if we played like that. Dutch football is about the technique, nice combinations. It doesn’t happen much often that the teams are just attacking. It’s an exact opposite of the Czech league. I’m not saying that all you play here are the long balls, definitely not in our case. I think we play a nice football. It’s faster and more intense. While in the Netherlands, it’s more about the technique, here you need to be in an amazing shape and you have to be able to win some headers and don’t end up on the ground all the time. It can be just my feeling of course, I spent just one year in the Dutch first league.“
Which coach was the most important for you?
„That’s a really hard question. One of them is Jean-Paul van Gastel, the coach from Feyenoord U-19. He’s an assistant coach at the first team at the same time, he used to play for the national team too. He’s always put the winning mentality in us and it stayed with me since then. I like to think about my last year in Esbjerg too. We’ve had a new coach named Jonas Dal who kinda liked me. When I returned from an injury, he automatically put me back in the starting eleven. Also thanks to that I got to be here now. The support and communication with the coach is important for every player.
What would you recommend to the kids who start with football?
„The main thing is to enjoy the game, don’t think about it too much. That’s what football is about. I grew up on the fact that I enjoyed every second when i could play. When I wasn’t on the field, I was just playing football on the street with my friends. I did that until I was 16, that was the moment when I got to sign my first professional contract. It needs a little bit of luck and enormous amount of hard work. It’s also not a bad idea to watch a top-quality football all around the world. You can pick a lot of things up from just watching the game. I still do it and try to learn more and more. I try to learn something from Mbappé now, he is just an incredible player. The most important thing is that you have to enjoy playing football. If the kid doesn’t even like playing it, it’s a nonsense to force him into it.“
What would you like to achieve in your life?
„I would like to play in Spain one day. I really like the league there, their culture is also something for me. I can imagine living there one day. And what I wanna achieve in my personal life? That’s a hard question. For me my friends are important for me so I would like to stay close to them.“
Who is your biggest inspiration in football?
„Kylian Mbappé. His speed and aggressive movement on the goal, that’s exactly what I would like to show the field too.“
And the last thing. What would you like to say to the fans?
„Continue doing what you’re doing, you are amazing! Sometimes we don’t play well but we win. The other time it’s another way around, you know it. I can assure you that every single one of us leaves everything on the field. Yes, sometimes we lose but even when it happens, you stand behind us and we really appreciate it. We feel like we’re invincible when we’re playing at home. The atmosphere is great, the opponents are scared to travel here. Thank you for your support!“