Aron Winter (The FIFA Weekly)

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Aron Winter (The FIFA Weekly)
« il: 04 Mar 2014, 12:36 »
“I wasn’t prepared to give up”

As Lazio’s first black player, Aron Winter faced a battle against racism in Italy.
He decided to stay and does not regret a single minute of his time in Serie A.

Like every kid who loves football, I kicked a ball around on the streets of my local neighbourhood almost as  soon as I could walk. I always dreamed of being a football star, but it was purely fantasy; I never believed I would actually manage it.

I signed for Ajax at the age of 19. With Johan Cruyff as our coach, we won the KNVB Cup and the European  Cup Winners’ Cup in 1987. Everything went perfectly for us that year; I was definitely in the right place at the right time. I made my debut for the Dutch national team the same year – it was an honour to be part of that  team. Of course, I realised a huge dream when I was called up for the 1988 European Championship in  Germany. I was the youngest player in the squad and, even though I didn’t complete a single game, it was incredible to be part of that group, to win the title and share that joy with my team-mates. Every footballer dreams of moments like that; it was wonderful.

In 1992, Ajax won the UEFA Cup and it became clear to me that I’d achieved all I could in the Netherlands. Every league has its limits. I wanted to prove myself in the best league in the world, and back then that meant Italy. When I received an offer from Lazio, I didn’t even have to think about it. Bear in mind that only three foreigners were allowed per team in those days, and someone had chosen me to be one of them. I was not prepared for what awaited me in Rome. When I made my debut, I was shocked to be booed, not because I played badly, but because I was black! Things were made even worse by the fact that I had the first name
‘Aron’ (originally a Jewish name) and came from Ajax, a club associated with the Jews. Ordinarily, anyone in that situation would have said “count me out”, but I wasn’t prepared to give up. I wanted to show these people that they were misguided; I wanted to get out on the pitch and prove that skin colour is irrelevant.
Racism should not and cannot resolve anything. The team and club gave me a lot of support, and the fans quickly realised that I could play well and got behind me.

The rapport I had with my team-mates was also extremely important to me during that time. Those team-mates included Paul Gascoigne, who was one of England’s all-time best footballers and a great person, and the big Italian stars I played with at Inter, such as Roberto Baggio, Giuseppe Bergomi and Gianluca Pagliuca. I really was very happy in Italy and would have ended my career there, but my mother fell ill and it became clear that I needed to go home. I had various offers, but I decided to return to my home club, Ajax. Football is still my life. I trained as a coach and spent some exciting times in Canada, where I learned a lot. I don’t know what the future will bring, but one thing is certain: football will continue to play a big part in it, whether as a coach, on the commercial side or simply as an ambassador of this wonderful sport.

As told to Sarah Steiner

Source: The FIFA Weekly, Issue #17 - 14 FEB 2014, p.37

Re:Aron Winter (The FIFA Weekly)
« Risposta #1 il: 04 Mar 2014, 14:51 »
Interesting  :beer:

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