Ice rabbit Maarten Vandevoordt: “I don’t worry that easily”

Maarten, January is the month of good intentions. What is your most fervent wish?

“That we can continue the performances of the first half of the competition, both individually and as a team. If that works out, there is a chance that we will have something beautiful in our hands at the end of the ride.”

With that you have the words title in Cup nicely bypassed. I saw on Instagram that you spent the end of the year in London. The football Valhalla.

“Yet I have not seen a single stadium. I was there for about four days with Luca Oyen, my brother Sven and our girlfriends. Clear your head for a while. Standing with the women Harrod’s of course on the program. But we also have the fireworks and the Big Ben seen. Impressive.”

Was it necessary to clear your head after that defeat in Kortrijk?

“It wasn’t too bad. Of course, that defeat was not pleasant. But that small, bad field, coupled with a stiff opponent, makes it difficult for everyone. We knew that this beautiful winning streak would end one day. Too bad it happened at the end of the year. Anyway, it’s up to us to start a new series.”

The start in 2023 is immediately tough. Club Bruges and Antwerp. But I don’t think you’re losing sleep over it. Ice rabbit Vandevoordt?

“I don’t worry easily, no. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t have to do anything for that, it just happens. I think it’s a good feature. If I get a setback, I don’t stay with it for long. To talk about Club for a moment: I think the pressure is greater for them than for us.”

©  Dick Demey

That attitude is in line with the text of one of your tattoos: I exist as I am and that’s enough. You are imperturbable. Not a superfluous luxury for a keeper. The most ungrateful position on the field.

“I know what you want to say. If a keeper makes a mistake, he will be pointed out. He lost the match. Well, that’s our fate. I look at that differently. I especially remember the beautiful things. If I save a penalty, I am the match winner. Guy Martens always says: “Don’t go on the field with the intention of making as few mistakes as possible, but with the will to catch as many balls as possible.” That’s a difference mind set. I follow that advice.”

So, despite your imperturbable attitude, you still take good advice from others?

“I definitely listen to the people around me. But I am not going to give myself an attitude to please others.”

Have you recently had a tattoo done?

“Yes, just before New Years. Nothing special. The face of a pharaoh. Just because I liked it. It’s not like I’m delving into the history of Egypt.”

In time, Vandevoordt will also turn into a coloring book? Nainggolan and Ederson?

“No, that’s an exaggeration. It suits them, I think. I will also get tattoos. But I don’t have the ambition to be full from head to toe.”

“I recently started taking German lessons. If I move to Leipzig, I don’t want to be speechless.”

Martin Vandevoordt

We already said it: imperturbable. So aren’t you busy with the points you get in the media?

“I’m not specifically looking for it. But often I do hear it through the grapevine. Honestly, I’m not losing sleep over it. Although I would rather have good points than bad points, that goes without saying.”

Those points are going crescendo this season. No coincidence. You’ve taken steps.

“It’s going well, that’s right. But that is not only my merit. We also have a very stable defense. I myself stand with more conviction in my goal these days than before. My style has also become more aggressive. I stand my ground in the duels.”

They will be happy to see it in Leipzig. Do you often have contact with people from the club you are going to in the summer of 2024?

“With Frederik Gösslin, the goalkeeper coach. We WhatsApp a lot and occasionally there is one zoom-call. He then shows me images, sometimes also of their training sessions, and gives me small tips. But the essence of his message is: ‘Listen carefully to Guy (Martens, ed.).’ We also talk about cows and calves.”

In English, I assume.

“For now, yes. But I recently started taking German lessons. From a private tutor from Sint-Truiden. If I move to Leipzig, I don’t want to be speechless.”

Do you also follow Leipzig’s performance?

“Absolute. I regularly watch matches and I watch summaries. I always get something out of it. After a difficult start, they have climbed to the sub-top.”

©  Dick Demey

We talked about points in the media. What about clean sheets? Does that interest you?”

“Yes. This is important for a keeper and his defenders. We always cheer each other up before a game. No ball going in today.”

Are there any other rituals?

“Two. Before the match I have to touch the post, crossbar and post. I don’t know how that came about. But I need that to feel good. I also always put my drinking bottle and my towel to my right next to the pole. I have no explanation for that either.”

You now have five clean sheets, your neighbor Mignolet six. You can level up.

“Would be nice. If I keep a clean sheet, we have at least a point.”

You are a born Truienaar. You still live there, with your girlfriend. Yet you are not a Haspengouwer by nature, I believe. You don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.

“There you have a point. I think that has to do with the fact that I spent a large part of my life in Genk. I also went to school there. That kneads a person.”

Can you walk down the street in Sint-Truiden undisturbed? You are the enemy.

“No problem. I am regularly approached. In a pleasant way. Sometimes even Genk fans dare to come out. For example, I was recently eating in a restaurant on the Grote Markt with a comrade. Suddenly the cry echoed ‘Forza Racing!’ by the case. Funny.”

You don’t seek the public eye. Except maybe when it comes to clothing. You do have a special, youthful, casual style. Sloppy, roomy.

“There is a simple explanation for that. I once went shopping in a store in Sittard. Since then I come there regularly. It’s a family business. They know me there now. When I pass by, I am entertained for hours. Coffee, nice chat. Should not be more. Contrary to what you might think, I’m certainly not particularly looking for expensive clothes. I don’t need to stand out either. The only criterion is that I have to feel comfortable in it. And yes, it is often something that stands out.”

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On Sunday you will be face to face with your former neighbor Simon Mignolet. Would you sign up for a career like his now?

“Of course I would be happy with such a super career. But I will see what comes my way. I want to achieve the highest possible.”

Like a World Cup with the Red Devils. Jealous of Bilal (El Khannouss, ed.)?

“No. I give it to him. But I have talked to him about it extensively. I wanted to know everything about his experience. What the training sessions were like, what the hotels looked like, what they did in their spare time, and so on. Hopefully I can experience such an event someday. I sometimes think of the national team. But everything in its time. The U21 European Championship is coming up in the summer. I want to make something beautiful out of that.”

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