Near and Far: Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake is the latest member of the squad to answer questions on his own country and others elsewhere in the world...


What characterises your country unique?

I think instantly people think about the canals in Amsterdam and Dutch cheese when they picture Holland. They also associate our country with clogs, but I would say the canals are a big part of our culture. I’m from The Hague, so I haven’t been to Amsterdam too many times, but that’s the place people always mention when you speak about our country.

Where is your favourite place in your country?

I would say my hometown, The Hague, because all my family and friends live there, and we have a beach nearby, so it’s always nice to go back.

Are there any places in your country you would like to visit that you haven’t been to previously?

Holland is quite a small country so you can get to most places very easily. If you need to get somewhere you can do it quite quickly. I’m lucky enough to have seen most parts of the country so there isn’t really one place I need to visit.

Apart from football, which are the most popular sports in your country? Did you play them?

Hockey is very popular and a lot of people play tennis as well. Swimming is also quite popular. I used to play tennis when I was younger and I was quite good. I played hockey when I was at school and I enjoyed it, the Dutch team usually do quite well in the big tournaments.

 The Dutch men's hockey team in action against Belgium at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Tell us something about football in your country we might not know…

Feyenoord, Ajax and PSV Eindhoven have the best academies in Holland and I always remember the way they scheduled coaching around school when I was at Feyenoord. They believe education is very important and when I went there, at the age of 13, we would always go for lessons in the morning and then in the afternoon some of the coaches would come to take us for training. It was all very well organised. There is also a lot of work which goes into teaching the technical side of the game in Holland, although that’s quite well known.

Which countries in the world would you like to visit that you haven’t previously?

I would like to go to Ivory Coast, which is where my father is from. I’ve never been. I was meant to go when I turned 18 but we didn’t really have the time, so I’d really like to go and see my family over there. Other than that, I’ve been to a lot of countries through football, and myself and my girlfriend like to travel as well, so I’ve already seen a lot of places.

Which languages do you speak and are there any you would like to learn?

I speak Dutch, English and a little bit of French, which my family speak. When I was young we used to always go to France, but I used to hide behind my brother and he would order for us. I was scared to speak. Now I can understand it, and I can speak it a little bit, but not fluently. Myself and my girlfriend are currently learning Spanish, so I’m just trying to get to grips with the basics.

Do you remember the first time you left your country?

I can’t say for sure how old I would have been, but we always used to drive to France because I have family in Montpellier, so I was going there from an early age.

 Ake feels settled in London, and could potentially see himself living in the capital when he finishes playing.

Where do you see yourself living when you finish football?

It’s a tough question and one I was speaking about recently. I would like to live somewhere hot, but I love it in England. I came here when I was 16 so a big part of my childhood was spent here. I’ve made a lot of friends here and sometimes when we have days off I prefer to stay here than go home. We will have to wait and see.