"I could have gone elsewhere, but if a club like Manchester United wants you, then, for me, it’s a quick decision because I think it’s the most beautiful club in the world. Everyone wants to play for Manchester United."
- Alex Büttner
Patrice was also a winger at one time – does it help a full-back to know what it’s like to play there?
Of course. As I was a winger before, I know what strikers hate to do. It’s good too, when you play there because you can also help when you come forward with the ball. If you are a striker before and now a left-back, you know what the winger hates to do because you were one before.
Is it quite a psychological battle between winger and full-back?
Yes. Most of the time it’s one against one and you have to beat him. They have to do something extra to help out in the front and I think left-back is a good position.
So, to your background: you were with Ajax as a youngster – and it meant a lot of travelling…?
I played for Ajax and was driving there with my father every day for six years [from Arnhem, 50-plus miles away]. After that, they said I had to live there but I was young and didn’t want that. So I wanted to stay closer to home and went to Vitesse.
We understand your father was a professional footballer as well..
He was a player before, yes, but his mentality was not so good. He played many years ago and he could play good football for Ajax, Twente and Go Ahead Eagles – some good clubs. But he did not play for too long because his mentality was not right.
How big an influence has he been?
Honestly, if my father did not help me so much then I would not be here now. My career, I have said before, is because of him. He drove me every day to training. He helped me because he knew what he did wrong in his footballing years. I think it was a big part of my career. Of course, he is proud now.
Yet he was critical of your performances as a youth. Did that have a positive impact?
When I played well, he only pushed me on the things that I had done wrong. I think that’s good. There were players in my team whose parents only said he played well and did good things. They never learned from their mistakes. What my father did certainly helped me in terms of my mistakes. And, if I scored three or four goals, he wouldn’t care. He would say to me: ‘You did this wrong and that wrong.’ It helped me a lot.