'When I have a setback, I think of them'

Saturday 03 December 2022 08:59

So what was it like growing in up in Rotterdam? Quite a battle, to be honest, because I was always small. I liked to play football with the big boys so I had to fight and show my qualities all the time.

There were a lot of different cultures where I grew up. It always like, well sometimes it was hard, but it was always fun. I enjoyed it. I was always outside playing with my friends and family.

I did do some kickboxing, in the street where my grandma lives. They had a gym so I was there a lot but what I loved doing most was playing football.

I was good at school but it was not for me. Yet I enjoyed my time there.

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I did like books but I wanted to play outside. So I would be reading but, at three o’clock, I could go out and play football. I still read now because of my mother. She always read a lot of books. Especially when I stopped school at 17, I kept reading for myself because it’s important.

I like crime books and those based on a true story. Those are the kind I really like.

When I was back in Holland, I did a project in combination with Feyenoord. I went to some schools and told them about my time and how I did at school and, you know, what reading means for me. It’s really important and can give me a better feeling.

Sometimes, you have the choice of the movie and the book and I like the book more than the movie. I can live in the book, you know, using my imagination.

But we were always out on the street and we always had a ball in the car! Everywhere we went, we played football.

My grandfather was there at every game with me, whether I played locally or outside the country. He was always there with me, along with my father and mother. Of course, without them, I wouldn’t be here. They are my big motivation every day.

My mother was always there for me. She worked a lot and my dad was also always working but still they were looking out for me, and also my grandma and grandad.

When I have a little setback, I think about them, my family, and why I am here.

I also have a group of friends, who grew up together. But I don’t call them friends anymore. They are like family for me. So they are always there too – in the good times and the bad times. They are still here.

Tyrell Malacia went from watching Feyenoord in the stands to playing for them.

I always kept the faith that I wanted to be a footballer.

I played for local teams, two clubs, and then I went to Feyenoord when I was eight. I went to a friendly against Liverpool with my grandad. I don’t remember that much apart from the atmosphere and everything.

Back then, I was already there inside the stands and then I was on the pitch so it was amazing. A lot of the players we good to me. There was a goalkeeper, I was really close to him, Kenneth Vermeer. He was – and still is – a good friend. I’m still in contact with other players and they always help me too.

I think true people always stay around so they always stay with me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve come a long way, I would say we as I certainly didn’t do it on my own. So we came a long way but I still have to make steps and there is a lot of space for improvement.

That is what we are going to work on.