As Southampton continue their preparations for the new season in Holland, Maarten Stekelenburg says it’s great to be back home.
The Dutch goalkeeper, who began his career with Ajax and was handed his professional debut by Ronald Koeman, visited the hotel Saints are staying in during their stay on a number of occasions with the Eredivisie side.
“I know the hotel quite well. I came here nine years in a row with Ajax; it’s a nice place. They have a pitch now – I hadn’t seen that before. I know the people here, it feels a little bit like home,” Stekelenburg told Southampton’s official YouTube channel.
“It’s like a tradition for me. It’s my second home almost. I was here nine years in a row and still the same people are working here like the chef. It’s good to see them.”
With a game against Vitesse in the Europa League coming up next Thursday, Stekelenburg says it’s great for the whole squad to be in Holland ahead of that clash.
“It’s always nice to be back in Holland. Feyenoord is the last game before Vitesse and the Europa League, so it’s nice to finish the training camp with a game like that,” he added.
“It’s an important one. I had some big games against Feyenoord. It’s always nice to play there. Some players ask me already about Dutch football.
“They want to play, we saw that against Groningen and we will against Feyenoord. With the draw against Vitesse it’s nice to have a training camp like this against Dutch opponents so we can get used to their way of playing.”
Saints have won their last three pre-season games, and while the result may not always be the most important thing ahead of the start of the season, Stekelenburg says it’s vital to have that winning mentality.
“You play football to win and for winning you need a mentality as well,” he added. “You need to work hard and do the things we train on. It starts with the mentality and it’s good that’s already in the team.
“The team had a very good season last time so you want to continue to achieve the same or even better. It has to start in pre-season to get that mentality and that’s why I think the games in pre-season are so important.”