Veurink: “Our European Championship with England confirms the success of what Sarina and I have done”

July 31, 2022. At a sold-out Wembley, Chloe Kelly shoots the winner into the final overtime: 2-1, game decided. English women will be European champions, national coach Sarina Wiegman and her assistant Arjan Veurink will write football history.

They are cheering in line, embracing in surprise on the field. A few moments later, Veurink looks around with tears in his eyes. “I just had to cry. For this, I had to do a lot and leave a lot behind. In fact, everything came to light at that moment.”

“We also realized that winning the European Championship in the Netherlands and reaching the final of the World Cup is not just luck. It was the ultimate confirmation that together we will become European champions again.” In a different country, in a different culture, and in such a short time, yes, that impressed me a lot. They all met there at Wembley.”


Going back to 2017, Veurink retired after nearly five years as FC Twente women’s head coach when Sarina Wiegman called her and asked to be her assistant for the Dutch team. He risked it because they only knew each other from the sidelines. But as we now know, it was worth the risk.

They became European champions with the Dutch women that same year, and she decided to follow Wiegman to England in 2021. Same task, same result. “When we won the European Championship, people said to me: Arjan, you can probably guess what this title means to our football culture, but you can never quite understand it. He sees that deeply.”

Meanwhile, “Helper” no longer fully bears the load. Wiegman and Veurink are perhaps more of an inseparable duo. Veurink says: “It needed to grow up. There were moments in the first two years where we really discussed our collaboration and how we could make it even better.”

“For example, in the beginning Sarina found it more difficult to turn over and hand over things. It’s a day and night difference from the way things are now. Now he literally says: Arjan, you and the coaching staff are making the whole football work.” Our conversations are transferred to the training area. I can truly say that we are now on the same page. And that brings peace.”

Work at home in Twente, UK

Veurink tells the story of relaxing behind the kitchen table. He is now at his home in Borne, where he lives with his wife and three children. But most of the time, he’s away for at least half of the week.

On Sundays Veurink goes by train to Schiphol and flies to England to attend international matches at his club: sometimes Manchester City or Chelsea watch, other Sunday he sits in the stands of West Ham United or Arsenal.

He then selects the players’ footage, analyzes them, and meets with boss Wiegman and other staff members every Tuesday to talk. “With the national team, of course, you live from the international period to the international period. Since you have very little time then, you are already busy preparing this time as best you can.

There is also a lot of investment. England’s “Zeist” St. In George’s Park, Wiegman has a team of “26 to 27 experts” who take special care of lioness.

A few years ago the English Football Association FA made a conscious decision to organize the women’s division in the same way as the men’s division: there is also a women’s specialist for every position in men’s football. “I see the great advantage of being able to take many steps very quickly. I don’t think it’s better organized than here, especially in the world of women’s football.”

It also raises expectations. Although he and Wiegman were able to work part-time for the Dutch team in the early days, the pressure in England was huge from the start. This is not the only difference in his time spent in the Netherlands.

“I’ve noticed that players in the Netherlands come a little easier to me. As an assistant, I can be an important bridge to Sarina. Here you can see that it takes a little longer to build that relationship: sometimes you go to employees from the UK, for example.”

One thing hasn’t changed over the years: Veurink’s attempt to be a “mirror and soundboard” for Wiegman as an assistant. “What you often see is that people who are in charge or high in the hierarchy get relatively little feedback. This is a pretty big step. I think I am someone who speaks for Sarina, who is honest and says things are not going well. That too is loyalty.”

Hooded Sweater

In less than two months, the two will begin their next test: the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Veurink leaves open how long the successful Wiegman-Veurink duo will remain inseparable.

He doesn’t mind taking the step of becoming a head coach again one day. “However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in great shape right now and that I get a lot of energy from working with Sarina.”

What’s more, he now knows better than anyone else what it means to be a coach in the world’s most football-crazy country. “I walk quietly through the stadium and go out into the street, but that’s not the case with Sarina. He needs to put on his hoodie,” she laughs. “Yeah, the assistant role is nice too.”

Source: NOS