After two years full of injuries, Jens Naessens is back in top shape and ready to fire at Knokke: “The picture really couldn’t be better”

Football 1st national FC Knokke

Jens Naessens could also have stayed with Lierse, but had to sign a performance-oriented contract. “Somehow I understand that they did not want to take any risks, but as a professional player I must of course also have some guarantees.” — © BELGIUM

After two seasons full of injuries at Lierse Kempenzonen, Jens Naessens (32) wants to become the striker he once was again in Knokke. The East Fleming is on edge after three strong final matches with the Kempenaars and he also has good prospects in his private life. Girlfriend Larissa De Castro is pregnant and will give birth to a baby boy in September.

Sports manager Kristof Arijs, in consultation with the new coach Jannes Tant, wants to have every position occupied twice in Knokke. Behind the strikers they are still looking for a back-up for Noa Aelterman and deep in the rush hour there was no one yet. The first gap there has now been filled with the arrival of Jens Naessens. The transfer was announced last Tuesday. “It had actually been completed for fourteen days, but they first wanted to wait for the results of the investigations,” says Naessens.

At Lierse, the striker was injured more than he liked in the last two years. The former attacker of Zulte Waregem, KV Mechelen, Antwerp and the Italian Foggia, among others, suffered from a chronic injury to the Achilles tendon. “I visited several specialists, but no one found anything. Before the tests in Knokke I had to visit Club Brugge doctor Bruno Vanhecke, who also works for RKFC. He discovered a cyst and was able to excise it quite easily. The problem should be solved now, but it’s a pity that all those other doctors didn’t discover it sooner. That way I lost two years. Although it is of course also proof that they are doing things right in Knokke.”

Training in the evening

The attacker, who was born in Deinze but now lives in Hamme, has attracted interest from various clubs. Naessens could also have stayed with Lierse Kempenzonen, but had to sign a performance-oriented contract. “Somehow I understand that they did not want to take any risks, but I am a professional player and of course I also need some guarantees.”

Knokke gave it to Naessens, who also had a good conversation with trainer Jannes Tant and was also told how the game would be played. “Knokke is not a professional club, but it is my impression that it is better organized here than at some professional clubs. The stadium is new and also appealing. When I got a tour, I was immediately sold. Training at night takes some getting used to, I admit. Even if it’s good somewhere. It also allows me to better prepare my future after football. I also think it will be good not to have to train every day, but rather three to four times a week.”

No goal machine

Last year, Din Sula always made the difference for Knokke as a striker with a large number of goals. In principle, Naessens is not such a scoring machine, but that does not appear to be a problem. “We know what to expect from him and are convinced that Jens fits perfectly in Jannes Tant’s style of play,” said Kristof Arijs. “Jens also has a lot of experience and in his last three matches at Lierse he showed that he had not forgotten anything.”

Important weeks are now approaching, but first there is still some holiday. Naessens: “Normally I am always busy in June. Now I still have some rest and vacation, but next week the tests are already on the program and we will start on July 10th. I’m looking forward to it and it will be a nice and exciting period at a new club anyway. In addition, there is also a baby on the way. Larissa and I already have a daughter and are now expecting a baby boy. The picture really couldn’t be better.”

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