This Orange fan goes very far: “Everyone wants to take a picture with me”

This Orange fan goes very far: “Everyone wants to take a picture with me”
This Orange fan goes very far: “Everyone wants to take a picture with me”

Daniel walks through Doha in his tight orange suit. “You look amazing“, says a woman wearing the Brazilian football shirt. “Can we take a picture with you”, two others ask. And Daniel takes the time for them. He hears it here a few times every day. bus with South Koreans. They all wanted to take a picture with me. It took me over an hour.”

Closet full of shirts

He clearly enjoys the attention. “I am proud of the color orange. I feel like a representative of the Netherlands, the orange represents the freedoms that exist there. I am always very happy that I can show that to the world.” He wears his suit on the days when orange plays. At home in Atlanta, he has one walk in closet with all orange shirts. Since 2000, his mother gave him all home and away kits. The shirt that the Netherlands wears in Qatar will also be displayed there.

During the match against Ecuador in Qatar, he came into the picture. Millions of people saw him on screen in his orange suit. “I received a lot of messages from all over the world, from my uncle in Kenya to people I had met during previous Dutch matches. That’s great.”

He has quite a few contacts in his phone. Everywhere he goes with Orange, he meets people. “The orange suit apparently has appeal,” he laughs. Daniel likes Orange. Even when he was a little boy and still lived in the Netherlands. With his grandparents in ‘s Gravenpolder – his father was out of the picture and his mother was a flight attendant. “I already watched all the matches in the Netherlands. My first memory is the 2000 European Championship. “I was 5 years old and my mother had bought me an orange suit. When we cycled through the city, I felt very special.”

To cry

Daniel cried loudly when the Netherlands went out after penalties against Italy. “For days. I just didn’t understand we didn’t continue.” He hits you with facts and memories. “Zenden’s last goal against France, it was great, 3-2.”

And how about that game in 2001, when the Orange lost to Ireland. “That was drama. We did not qualify for the World Cup. I still think about that when I see Irish people.”

At the age of six, Daniel moved to a village on the west coast of Canada due to personal circumstances. He went to live with his aunt. It took years to get used to that. “I didn’t speak the language at all. I was different, more direct than the other kids, maybe even more brutal. They are different cultures.”

Kluivert as an idol

In Canada, his fascination for the Dutch national team only increased over the years. “It was my way of continuing to feel involved with the country where I was born. With Oranje I could show my identity.” He went to school in full Orange outfit. With the name Patrick Kluivert on the shirt. Daniel was a big fan of the striker. “When I played football with my nephews, I pretended to be Kluivert. He was such a beautiful player.”

His love for Kluivert went far. When he did not play at the European Championship in Portugal, he called the KNVB. “I wanted to speak to national coach Advocaat to get a story. I was so angry.” The Netherlands lost that European Championship in the semi-final against Portugal. Despite the time difference, little Daniel saw all the matches in the middle of the night. He throws out another fact: “Ronaldo then scored his first goal for Portugal against the Netherlands.”

Become a pilot

Daniel not only dreamed that the Orange would become world champion one day, he also wanted to become a pilot. It worked. From the age of 19 he went for it. He worked his way up to become one of the youngest captains ever at a major American airline, with which he now flies around the world in an Airbus A220. Soon he will switch to another device. “At 27, I will be the youngest captain to fly a Boeing 767,” he says proudly. That dream has come true.

Then back to that other dream: helping the Orange to the world title. In 2014 he was really at an Orange match for the first time; at the World Cup in Brazil. The flight attendants painted Dutch flags on his face in the plane. He arrived just in time for the first game. “Against Spain, 5-1, I felt so very proud. I had such a great time there that I always wanted to be there from now on.”

To Kazakhstan

And he did. In Kazakhstan, for example, in 2015, where the Dutch played a qualifying match, “We flew from the US via Frankfurt and Vienna to Astana. It was not that easy to get there. It was 2-1, Sneijder scored the second goal.” He was immediately included in the small legion of about 50 men who don’t miss a game. “The people of the Oranjebus have become my family. We always see each other in one corner of the world.”

Daniel always wears his orange suit. The other diehard fans then say: “There’s the pilot from America, where did you park your plane. Well around the corner here,” he laughs. He ensures that he is on the flights as a pilot to places where the Dutch team plays. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll take it off. “It really feels like a kind of duty to be there, like a soldier serving his country. I just have to stand there. They need me.”

He has experienced lesser Orange moments, in which the Netherlands did not qualify for final tournaments, but the good memories prevail. “If the Orange wins, and you are cheering and singing with such a small group of fans in another country. That is goosebumps.”

He is also there in Qatar (of course). “When you are at such a final tournament, I think: I have trained for this all my life, since I was a little boy.” He has bought tickets up to and including the final. “In the first two games I screamed and sang the whole game, for 90 minutes.”

Everything comes together

If things go wrong at a final tournament, he will be unavailable for at least a week. “Yes, then there will certainly be tears. My mother asks every time why I always have hope. Because it doesn’t work.” But Daniel believes that one day it will work out anyway. Maybe now, he says. “Then I just want to be there, then I have to be there.”

And if unexpectedly it doesn’t work out in Qatar now, then only in four years, when the World Cup is held with him in Canada and America. “Then the Orange will come to visit me. If they become world champions there, everything would come together.”

The article is in Dutch

Netherlands

Tags: Orange fan picture

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