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Exclusive Interview: Donovan Slijngard On Playing With Suarez & Moving To Lithuania

Exclusive Interview: Donovan Slijngard On Playing With Suarez & Moving To Lithuania

James Rowe spoke to FK Zalgiris defender Donovan Slijngard about playing in Lithuania, his experiences coming through the famous Ajax youth academy, and his high praise and respect of Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam .

Since 2015 you have been playing for Lithuanian team FK Zalgiris. What is it like to play football in Lithuania and are you enjoying yourself there?

I am really enjoying my time at FK Zalgiris.

It took a bit of getting used to, going from football in the Netherlands to playing football in Lithuania .

I have nothing to complain about here and I have managed to win a lot of trophies during my time here winning 2 league titles and 2 Lithuanian cups in the last two seasons and I am really happy about that.


You came through the youth ranks at Ajax . What was it like to come through the ranks at such a famed football youth academy?

There were times where I was on autopilot at Ajax.

I started when I was 7 years old and if you manage to work your way through all the youth groups it is something very special, and I am proud to have experienced coming through the ranks there.


You played more than 100 matches for Sparta Rotterdam in 6 seasons during your time at the club . How do you look back on your time at the club?

I view Sparta Rotterdam as a homecoming, as I played there for 6 seasons.

I was in the first instance loaned to the club by Ajax . They were 6 great years with the only low point being relegation from the Eredivisie.

My feelings for Sparta Rotterdam have not changed and whenever I am back in the Netherlands I always go back to visit people at the club.

I have always had good contact with people there in back room staff also behind the scenes too and it’s nice to go back and say hello.

The highlights with Sparta Rotterdam were playing Eredivisie football and staying up in the division. Those achievements are very special for a club like Sparta.

It is a really warm and friendly club and that will never change.

You mentioned playing in the Jupiler League ( Dutch 1st division ) with Sparta Rotterdam. What were the differences between the Eredivisie and Jupiler League in your opinion?

Yes in the Eredivisie there is a lot of skilful football and in the Jupiler League there is a lot of combative football and long balls.

The Eredivisie is a very skilful league and Jupiler League requires a lot of fight.

That is why it is so difficult for clubs to return to the Eredivisie straight away when they get relegated, because they must switch to playing a totally different type of football in a way.


You played in the 2014-2015 season for Cambuur Leeuwarden. How do you look back on your time with that club?

I have mixed feelings about my season with Cambuur Leeuwarden. I did not play much because I arrived at the club very late in the summer transfer window, and the then current team already had two months preparation.

The team were playing well and managed to avoid relegation that season. If a team is playing well you then can’t complain as a squad player .

You must accept that you must be ready when you are called upon. They had a great season that year managing to stay in the Eredivisie . Cambuur Leeuwarden is also a fine club in my opinion.


As someone who is very experienced in your career . Could you say who is the best player that you have ever played with?

When I was 19 years old I was loaned to FC Groningen and at the time Luis Suarez was playing there and you could tell even then that he was a great footballer.

When I returned to Ajax that following summer he also signed for Ajax.

Funnily enough there were questions surrounding his move to Ajax as to whether he could make the grade there.

He has extraordinary quality and you can see how far he has gone in his career. He is currently striker for FC Barcelona and also represents, and is very important for, his national team Uruguay.


Could you say who is the most difficult opponent that you have faced so far in your career?

I always had my hands full with Georginio Wijnaldum who currently plays for Liverpool FC.

I played against him a few times for Sparta Rotterdam against Feyenoord in the Eredivisie.

Wijnaldum is a very good player in my opinion.


Finally Donovan as someone who is very experienced. Are there managers that have stood out for you during your career so far?

That can be a difficult question to answer because you learn something from every manager you play under.

It’s difficult for me to pick somebody out in that respect. I played under the likes of Marco van Basten (Ajax) , Ron Jans (FC Groningen) , Foeke Booy & Frans Adelaar at (Sparta Rotterdam) also under Henk de Jong (Cambuur Leeuwarden) who is a great man.