James Rowe spoke to Curaçaoan midfielder Yaël Eisden for WFi. They discussed moving from his home in the Netherlands to Latvia and representing Curaçao at youth level.
In 2018 you signed for FK Jelgava in Latvia. How has your time there been so far and how would you describe the club?
“I am enjoying my time at FK Jelgava so far. They are a unique club and it is a different experience playing football in the top flight in Latvia and I had to get used to it in the beginning.
“It was my first time playing football abroad and the first time that I moved away from home. It was exciting to start to arrange things for myself and take care of myself in a completely different environment.
“FK Jelgava are a family club where everybody knows one another and as recently as three seasons ago they played in the qualification rounds of the Europa League. They want to do that again in future.
“The club often play well here against the bigger teams in Latvia, and play with a lot of fight and effort to win matches.”
You also played for Helmond Sport in the Dutch First Division. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights?
“I arrived at Helmond Sport after being operated for the third time for a cruciate knee injury. I have now fully recovered from that injury and I feel good.
“I started playing matches for the club after the winter break and after arriving at Helmond Sport from Sparta Rotterdam, where we had become Champions, and playing for a club that were building, I got to see the other side of the game in that respect.
“Although I had at times disagreements with the then manager, Roy Hendriks, I still managed to go on and play many matches for the club and earn my place in the starting lineup due to working hard.”
You have been capped by the youth team of Curaçao. How do you look back on representing your country at youth level, and do you have any highlights or special memories?
“It was really special to represent Curaçao at youth international level and, I have to be honest with you, I did not know that Curaçao had an international team so when I got the call it came as a surprise.
“I managed to play in the Concacaf Cup and we played against Mexico. That match in particular has stayed with me because I played against Jesús Manuel Corona who now plays for FC Porto.
“Curaçao is not a big country but it is my country of origin and I still have family that live there, so it was a very special experience.”
You have accrued experience in different countries and also at youth international level. Could you say who are the best players that you have played alongside in your career?
“A really good question, as I have been fortunate to play with many good players so far in my career.
“I would say Adnan Bajić from my time at Sparta Rotterdam. He was coveted as one of the biggest talents at the club during my time there.
“He was originally from Bosnia & Herzegovina. He was great at playing between the lines and a fantastic player to play with.
“He was small in comparison to his teammates, but when he had the ball at his feet he was a joy to play alongside.”
You mentioned Jesús Manuel Corona when you faced him in the Concacaf Cup. Could you say who are the other opponents that you have faced that have stood out?
“I remember playing youth games against Kyle Ebecilio when he played for Feyenoord and he was a very difficult opponent to play against.
“He had a lot of physical power and great stamina too, and I remember in the matches I played against him that he was very much a box to box player who was very good at finding space on the pitch.”
Finally Yael, could you say who are the coaches and managers that have played an influential role in your development as a professional footballer?
“I believe that Peter van der Berg during my time at Sparta Rotterdam in the youth teams. He is the coach who started playing me in midfield.
“I also learned a lot from Leo Beenhakker who was Techincal Director at Sparta Rotterdam at the time. He helped me a lot after I came back from my second cruciate knee injury. He came to me and spoke about my rehabilitation and also recommended to the then Sparta Rotterdam manager Alex Pastoor that I am ready to play in the first team.
“Leo Beenhakker is also a really nice man who is always very honest with players. He tells it exactly like it is.
“I must also say that Alex Pastoor has similar qualities in regards to honesty and being very direct when selecting players for the first team and letting them know what his expectations are. That is something that I can appreciate as a player.”