Jill Roord: Netherlands can go far at EURO 2017

Whether on the pitch or in her career in general, young Dutch star Jill Roord is not one for standing around, waiting for things to happen…

Still just 19 years old, the gifted attacker has already garnered a wealth of experience for club side FC Twente and the Netherlands’ national teams –  including regular outings in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (14 goals in 19 appearances to date) and a trip to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Part of the Oranje side spearheaded by Vivianne Miedema that won the European U-19 title in 2014 in Norway, and back again at this summer’s edition in Slovakia – scoring five in four games as the Dutch reached the semis – Roord discussed all this and more when she spoke to She Kicks’ Nick Aitken.

SK: Jill, first of all, I’d like to ask you about your characteristics as a player. What would you say were your main strengths and are there any parts of your game you need to improve?

JR:I think my main strengths are when I’m on the ball and I can attack teams with my dribbling and passing, while I also score a lot of goals. I need to improve the defensive side of my game though!

SK: Regarding youth national team level, where you’ve had a lot of success. What are your best memories of winning the U-19 EURO in 2014?
JR:That tournament in 2014 was great! I think nobody expected us to win the title, because it was the first time that the Netherlands had qualified. The atmosphere in the team was really good, we had a lot of fun and felt very confident. We had a really good team with very good players. As for the best memories, I think they were making it to the final with a 4-0 semi-final win over [Republic of] Ireland, and finally when we got to lift the trophy.

SK:You reached the semi-finals at the U-19 EURO this year too, scoring five goals. Were there similarities between the 2014 and 2016 groups? Did you notice that the overall standard of football had progressed this year?
JR:The atmosphere this year was also great and we also had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the tournament. But I think that the 2014 squad was older and a bit more confident. This year we had a very young team, but we made it to the semi-finals which is still a very good result.

I think overall that the football played at this year’s tournament was better, the tempo was higher, and there were a lot of outstanding individual players.

SK: You were selected for the Netherlands’ squad for the Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. Though you did not make an appearance, how did it feel to be a part of such a major tournament?
JR: The World Cup in 2015 was amazing, a really big experience for me. The atmosphere around the tournament was incredible, the media was everywhere, we got a lot of attention, and it felt really special to be there.  The most beautiful moment for me was when we played the first game [against New Zealand in Edmonton], and we went onto the field for the warm-up and you could see a packed stadium, full of people yelling and cheering!

SK: With Twente you are picking up a lot of experience in the Champions League, but was beating Bayern Munich (on away goals after 3-3 aggregate draw in Round of 32 in 2015/16) your highlight so far? What did Vivianne have to say to you after that game?!
JR:Playing in the Champions League is very special, I never get used to it, and beating Bayern Munich is one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced at FC Twente. Nobody thought we could beat them and we did it! Also my goal in Munich [Editor’s note: Roord scored the opening goal in the 2-2 second-leg draw] which was very important makes it feel even more beautiful. It’s a moment I will never forget. Vivianne is a really good friend of me and she was very disappointed of course, but I talked to her after the game and she congratulated me.

SK: What are your objectives for this season with Twente, domestically and in Champions League?
JR: This season we hope to become Dutch champions again: we’ve lost some important players but we’ve also got some important players back. I think we have a really good team again and in the Champions League we hope to make it to the next round again and maybe further. [They face Barcelona in the Rd of 16 after beating Sparta Praha in the Rd of 32, with Roord striking in both matches, in time added on, in the second half!]

SK: One last question before you go. At next year’s UEFA EURO in the Netherlands, what do you feel is a realistic objective for this Oranje squad? What impact do you think organising the tournament will have on Dutch women’s and girls’ football?JR:I think the Oranje have a really good team right now: our attackers are really fast and dangerous and the team has a lot of individual quality.
We’re playing at home so the pressure and the expectations will be high and I wouldn’t like to say now that we can reach the semi-finals, for example, because that also depends on the opponents we end up facing. Even so, I think that we ought to be confident in our squad and we can make it far in the tournament.
In terms of the impact, I think it will be very big, it will give a boost to young girls wanting to play the game and I think that player numbers will increase. Also the tournament should help  attract a lot of sponsors, so it’s very good news for women’s football in the Netherlands to be hosting such a big tournament.

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