Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord have started Arsenal season strongly
Both were integral parts of Netherlands’ run to France 2019 Final
Pair speak exclusively to FIFA.com
In terms of recent history in women’s football, North London is red – but it is now beginning to look a little Oranje. Arsenal Women already had Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk in their ranks, but they added Jill Roord – one of the breakout stars of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ – to their squad earlier this year.
Van de Donk and Roord were both part of the Netherlands side that swept along on a wave of orange optimism in France as Sarina Wiegman’s squad reached the Women’s World Cup Final, only to be defeated by the USA.
“People do expect a lot from us because we won the EUROs but it was just the second time we were at the World Cup,” Van de Donk told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “It was one hell of an achievement from us [to reach the Final]. I’m very proud of this and I will be for the rest of my life.”
There were memorable moments for both along the way, but for Roord there is one that stands out: scoring in stoppage time of her Women’s World Cup debut against New Zealand to claim a win for her country.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Roord told FIFA.com. “It was my first World Cup game and obviously it was 0-0, so to score in the last minute – it was like a dream; the biggest moment in my career so far.”
They have both since continued to be an integral part of the Oranje side as they began their UEFA EURO 2021 qualifying campaign with four wins from four. On the domestic front, Roord is settling in nicely to the Arsenal side. She scored a hat-trick against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in pre-season, netted on her FAWSL debut against West Ham United and also scored in the WSL Cup against London City Lionesses.
“It’s always easier to have people you know at the club especially when they’re from the same country,” Roord smiles, referencing her Oranje team-mates at Arsenal. “They’ve really helped me.”
Having friends in situ has no doubt helped Roord hit the ground running, but how different is Arsenal to Bayern Munich, from whom the Gunners signed her?
“It’s two really different cultures,” Roord explained. “In Germany there are a lot of rules, everything’s really strict. Here in England, at Arsenal, there’s a really chilled atmosphere. You just have a lot of responsibility for your own career. I think that suits me better and the atmosphere around the games is better.”
Van de Donk, for her part, is already well settled in England. The Dutch schemer has been at Arsenal since 2015, and lifted her first league title with the side last season.
“We had an amazing season, we had a great team with great people around us,” Van de Donk said. “We had our ups and downs, we had a very difficult time with a lot of injuries, I think it’s very good how we continued and stayed strong as a team.”
As well as starting the domestic campaign strongly, Arsenal and their Dutch contingent have already leapt over their first hurdle in Europe, seeing off Fiorentina – thanks partly to Miedema’s three goals across the two legs – to progress to the Round of 16. They face Slavia Praha this week, and will likely have to face European titans Lyon if they want to climb the continental summit.
“I think we can go very far, but also it depends on who you face in each round,” Roord said, herself a UWCL semi-finalist with Bayern last season.
How can anybody stop Lyon though?
“Well, you just score one more than them!” Van De Donk smiled.
With that simple and positive Dutch mindset at front and centre, Arsenal will likely do pretty well this season.
Van Veenendaal, The Best?
Roord: The best goalkeeper I’ve ever played with. She’s a great captain.
Van de Donk: She always shows up in the big moments.
Best player you’ve played with?
Roord: Danielle van de Donk (laughs).
Van de Donk: We have to keep that answer! For me: Fara Williams.
Best player you’ve played against?
Roord: Rose Lavelle.
Van de Donk: Yeah, Lavelle. I agree.
What is your best skill off the pitch?
Roord: My dance moves!
Van de Donk: I’m pretty good at drawing, actually.