The international match against Sweden in October 2017, Arjen Robben’s last, also seemed to be the last match for the Dutch national team for Vincent Janssen for a long time. After a failed adventure at Tottenham Hotspur, the striker opted for a switch to the Mexican league and lost sight of it. National coach Louis van Gaal, however, brought Janssen back to the Orange after five years and decided to also take him to Qatar.
Van Gaal said last Friday, during the announcement of his World Cup selection, that Depay is in principle not in the starting line-up against Senegal because he is medically fit, but not yet one hundred percent match fit. The national coach named Janssen as the most likely replacement. “I did not see that press conference myself, because I was training or eating at Antwerp,” said Janssen. “Later I heard it from people. It’s nice when the trainer says something like that. We will see.”
“You know what’s coming,” Janssen said on Saturday in hotel The St. Regis Doha. “It’s like being in primary school and working towards a holiday in the last few days. When the World Cup starts, we can really enjoy ourselves. My wife, mother, father, little brother, best friend, sister and her husband with four children: they are all coming this way.”
Janssen played twenty international matches for the Netherlands from March 2016 to October 2017. It was not the most pleasant period for the Orange. The Netherlands missed out on both the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup. “The contrast is big, yes. At that time there was a lot of negativity around the team. Now there is a lot of positivity in the selection and the team. We know what we want to achieve together. The fact that there is pressure involved is not important to us. It just lives, with everyone, with every player. It’s such a beautiful thing that we’re going to experience. For me it will be the first time, some guys have been through it before. We have five weeks to create something.”
The fact that Janssen received an invitation to the Orange again in the spring as a player of the Mexican Monterrey, was largely due to assistant coach Danny Blind. Blind, national coach during most of Janssen’s previous international period, tipped off Van Gaal. Van Gaal substantiated that he missed a type of striker like Janssen in his selection.
To get even more into the picture and to have a chance at a place in the World Cup selection, Janssen made the switch to Antwerp last summer, with compatriot Mark van Bommel as trainer. That step worked out well. Janssen scored nine times in seventeen league games and managed to convince Van Gaal. Competitors such as Donyell Malen (Dortmund), Brian Brobbey (Ajax) and Arnaut Danjuma (Villarreal) did not make the World Cup selection.
Janssen sees his boyhood dream come true. “I still have the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in my head,” said the 28-year-old striker. “One day participating in a World Cup was more of a dream than it was within my reach. In 2014 I still played at Almere City.”