“Am I right or am I right?! You can sit here peacefully.” With a proud smile Andries Jonker walks to the – chosen by him – terrace in Monnickendam.
The inner harbor of the former fishing village looks like a postcard. The sun reflects in the water, the boats lie along the side, against the backdrop of those traditional Dutch houses with a pointed roof and a chimney.
On the table a cappuccino with sugar for Jonker. He will be 60 years old in September. You wouldn’t give it to him. Relaxed, in shorts, he tells what he does now: mainly watch sports. “In that respect it is a super month.”
Time to think
Jonker is briefly unemployed after his self-chosen departure from cult club Telstar. Even with FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the KNVB football association on your resume, it can sometimes take a while before the right club calls.
Until then, Jonker has a break. “And that’s not bad at all”, it sounds with his characteristic Amsterdam accent. “It gives you time to think, to put things in order. It gives you the feeling that you are better after a break than before.”
Because what does a trainer actually do when he in between jobs sit? Jonker, a gifted orator, begins to scatter anecdotes.
He first experienced it in 2000. After his departure as head coach of FC Volendam, it will take a while before he starts at KNVB. At the request of the association, Jonker makes a trip to Asia during that time. “Those are experiences that have made me happy all my life,” he looks back.
With a group of six KNVB colleagues, he gives training to the children of employees of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where they still have no idea of the major disaster that would take place in 2011.
Fireworks Festival in Tokyo
They are also in Tokyo for a few days. “I had never been to such a big city. On the way to a fireworks festival we had to transfer five times by metro. And at that time there was no English signage at all. We were at the mercy of the interpreter.”
There I found out that people from another part of the world have a different truth.
“I remember we were late for the festival and everything was pitch dark, so you could see the fireworks well. We walked hand in hand with the interpreters around the site like grown guys.”
Shanghai impresses even more on Jonker, where he trains Chinese coaches together with another colleague. “I was already met at the airport and then escorted to a room with a hundred and fifty photographers.”
“I didn’t understand! What was everyone doing there? I didn’t know anything. It turned out that just about all coaches from China had been instructed to come there.”
For Jonker it’s not just that surprise. “We were going to analyze a women’s game. There were about eight thousand fans in the stands. They went all out and waved flags. They created a great atmosphere. But after the break there were only thirty fans left.”
“So I asked the interpreter where the rest had gone. It turned out that he was already at home. They had received a letter with an order to come to the stadium and encourage the club. After the whistle, they went home. I was staring open-mouthed.”
Afterwards, Jonker realizes how valuable it has been to experience a different culture. “We were not among the tourists, but among the real Chinese. That’s where I first learned that people from another part of the world have a different truth.”
“If you only stay in the Netherlands, you don’t realize that. I have always included that in my career: you always have to respect people.”
Get your head fresh? Go play soccer yourself
In September 2017, Jonker is fired as coach of VfL Wolfsburg. A period of almost two years without a club follows. “I had a hard time with that dismissal and I didn’t feel like coaching for a while. It really took a while to get fresh in the head again.”
Jonker does this in a special way. “I started playing football again myself. Pretty crazy, because I was already 55 then. To this day I don’t know where that need came from.”
“As a youth player I could play pretty well. I belong to the class of 1962, with Wim Kieft, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit. I made the pre-selection of the Amsterdam youth team, but then dropped out. Then I hated it a lot, but only afterwards do you realize how good the rest was.”
Disappointing return on 55th
At 55, Jonker is breathing new life into his playing career. He joins the Amsterdam fifth division Buiksloot. It will not be a successful comeback. His calf muscles fail him. “In one year I went to the physio 75 times.”
After the squatter at home against VV Jisp, Jonker stops. “A Sunday afternoon. Aunt Nel watched from the canteen. There were two men on the side. Ali, a youth coach, participated with us. He was in the back, I in midfield. He played the ball to me, I turned around, everyone saw standing still, turned back and played the ball to Ali again. And so it went on all the time. We lost 1-9.”
So after three years of Telstar, Jonker is out of work again. “That hurts, because I would have liked to continue. But if your budget on July 1, 2022 is the same as on July 1, 2019, with the knowledge that it is the lowest budget in the entire first division, then it will not move.”
He is waiting for a new challenge, somewhere in Western Europe. A reunion with Louis van Gaal at Orange? Not an option, according to Jonker. “He already has his staff around and Louis van Gaal is not someone who has to organize anything in the last phase before a World Cup.”
Visiting Henk de Jong?
How does he pass his time then? “I have more time for family, I watch a lot of sports. And what I actually want to do, but what never happened, look at other trainers. I would like to visit Henk de Jong, one of the most underestimated trainers from The Netherlands.”
“The easiest duels in my career were those as interim coach of Bayern. There you always have ten or eleven better players than your opponent. With Cambuur that is a different story. And De Jong always plays good football. How does he do that? “