Boudewijn ‘Bolo’ Zenden: A Winner on and off the Field
Sitting at his desk in the Netherlands, Boudewijn ‘Bolo’ Zenden, the former Barcelona, Chelsea, and Liverpool winger, exudes confidence and experience. With a decorated career in European football, Zenden has a wealth of knowledge to share.
The Rise of a Star
Having played over 50 times for the Netherlands national team, Zenden burst onto the scene at the turn of the century. He won the Young Dutch Player of the Year award in 1997 and shared the stage with football legends Ronaldo Nazário and Zinedine Zidane at the World Cup a year later.
The Mexican Sensation: Santiago Giménez
Zenden, an avid follower of Dutch football, discusses Feyenoord’s Mexican forward Santiago Giménez. With 13 goals in 11 games this season, Giménez has caught the attention of many. Zenden praises Giménez’s hard work and reveals that there were rumors of a potential move to Tottenham, but he ultimately stayed at Feyenoord.
Santiago Giménez’s Future
As Europe’s elite clubs reportedly show interest in Giménez, Zenden speculates about his future. While acknowledging that a move may be on the horizon, Zenden believes it is more likely to happen in the summer transfer window. He emphasizes Feyenoord’s desire to keep their team intact and make changes in the summer.
The Battle for Eredivisie: Feyenoord vs. PSV
Zenden also discusses the fierce competition between Feyenoord and PSV in the Eredivisie. He mentions USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s struggle for minutes at PSV due to the team’s wealth of talent. Zenden highlights the upcoming challenges for PSV and expresses curiosity about whether Giménez can lead Feyenoord to challenge their dominance.
Zenden’s Success at Barcelona and Xavi’s Impact
Reflecting on his own success, Zenden recalls winning the LaLiga title with Barcelona in the 1998-99 season. He praises Xavi Hernández’s impact as Barcelona’s current coach, acknowledging the challenges he faced upon taking charge. Zenden believes Xavi has done an excellent job in navigating the club through turbulent times.
Barcelona’s Off-Field Issues
Discussing Barcelona’s off-field problems, Zenden acknowledges the negative impact they can have on the team. From the Negreira case to the club’s financial struggles, these issues can create a tense atmosphere in the locker room. Zenden emphasizes the importance of resolving these problems for the team’s overall success.
Influence of Press on Locker Room Conversations
“In the beginning they are always two separate worlds. But if it extends too much, in the end it could be a topic of conversation in the locker room, even if it is not talked about all the time. But if you can see what’s coming in the press, it is more likely that the locker room will also talk about it. That’s why it’s always better when the water is calm than when there are a lot of waves. That’s the same anywhere.”
“You’ve seen it, for example, at Ajax, there were a lot of problems and in the end it didn’t work well on the pitch. I think that’s always the same. Perhaps the same thing happens in any company, whether it is football or any other field. If there are problems at the top, then you also have the feeling that there is a little further down. It is not an important factor. But obviously it is there and sometimes it is not easy.”
Zenden Compares Mbappé to Cristiano Ronaldo
Zenden’s former teammate in Marseille, Samir Nasri, recently advised Kylian Mbappé to reject any possible move to Real Madrid in order to continue being the main figure of the PSG project.
“I don’t know exactly why he said that,” Zenden commented when asked about rejecting a call from one of the best clubs in Spain. “Nor what was his opinion based on, to be honest, because I haven’t read it.”
“But of course,” he added, “Mbappé at PSG is the great figure. He is also the figure of France. Sometimes, as a player, you may still want to prove yourself in a different competition. Maybe it’s not that you have something against where you are, it’s just sometimes it’s also a motivation to go somewhere else and try your talent and see if you can do it in a different competition.”
“For example, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who went from one competition to another and was still capable of being top scorer in another competition and still being the best in another league or in another team. I could see Mbappé moving to Real Madrid, for example. The good thing is that Mbappé is in a situation where he can decide his future. There was talk that he would move, there was talk that he wanted to leave, there was talk that the club wanted to transfer him and, in the end, he simply decided what he wanted to do with his future. I think that is always good, the player has the last word wherever he moves.”
Zenden Recognizes the “Positive Feeling” around Chelsea
Zenden, who played over 100 games in England over two spells, including for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Middlesbrough, spoke about his former London team’s recent victory against Spurs and the upcoming game against Manchester City.
“Tottenham, playing nine against 11, still made it very difficult for Chelsea to break through,” he said, acknowledging the problems that Pochettino’s young team still faces. “We already mentioned striker Jackson, who has been under a bit of pressure for not scoring goals and missing opportunities. In the end, he got a hat-trick and Chelsea looked a little more positive going into the next game, something they obviously need when playing City. I think City will be a rival with a different type of game. But it’s good to see them have a little bit of momentum, but a positive feeling.”
“As for the Spurs,” he continued, “I think they can be proud of what they have done so far, they really look good. I didn’t expect them to be at the top so soon, because they obviously changed coaches and lost Harry Kane, who left for Bayern Munich. But they don’t seem affected by it at all. It is a pleasure to watch them play.”
Zenden also mentioned Liverpool’s return to form this season, describing the Premier League as “not a one-horse race” and expressing his excitement about the competition.
Netherlands and Euro 2024
Zenden, who played for the Netherlands in the 1997 World Cup, discussed the current situation of the national team in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign. He highlighted the challenges they have faced due to injuries and suspensions.
“One of the main issues is the goalkeeper: there is not really a goalkeeper who stands out and makes the difference. The same happens with the defense, with the midfield, and with the attack, without any forward to make the difference. They tried to form a team around Memphis Depay, but he was injured. There have always been things against them. In qualifying for Euro 2024, it didn’t look good from the start. France is obviously the big boys in the group, which made it difficult for the Dutch and would suggest they could easily finish second in the group. But even that seems difficult because Greece already has the same amount of points as them.”
“Let’s hope that when the competition comes, when it really matters, the Dutch can form a solid squad and that the players are, above all, in shape, to be able to form a good group that plays regular football for their teams.”
Interview conducted by AS USA with TG Casino.