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Remember me? We talk to former Saints Dutchman Jan-Paul Saeijs

Southampton are enjoying a distinctly Dutch influence these days under Ronald and Erwin Koeman. But, it's not the first time. We speak to former Saints defender Jan-Paul Saeijs, a defender signed during the "Dutch experiment" days of Mark Wotte and Jan Poortvliet.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Last week saw the five-year anniversary since Saints' Johnstone's Paint Trophy win at a rocking Wembley Stadium during Southampton's stint in League One and it got me thinking.

While I look back on our League One days with fond memories, it's easy to forget how badly we struggled in the Championship leading up to Saints' relegation to the third tier of English football.

The weird and wonderful names we had playing for us in those years. Who can forget the likes of Tomasz Hajto, Kamil Kosowski and Alexander Östlund?

One of those names which popped up into my mind was Jan-Paul Saeijs. A towering centre-half, adding some much-needed steel in a leaky Saints defence, this Dutch defender left an impression on me and a (select) few Southampton fans who recall his time at the club during his short loan stint.

What is he up to? What happened once he left Saints? Does he remember THAT Watford goal? Well, I decided to find out and ask the man himself.

St. Mary's Musings: Hello, Jan-Paul. What are you up to these days?

JPS: Hello! I am now an account manager at my old club ADO Den Haag. I help attract visitors to the business side of the club.

I am still playing football at HBS Craeyenhout, a team playing in the highest amateur league in Holland.

SMM: Growing up, did you always want to be a footballer? What team did you support? 

JPS: No, I never really grew up wanting to be a footballer. I always wanted to be a school PE teacher. I always loved football, though. Growing up, I always supported ADO Den Haag.

SMM: You joined Southampton in 2009. What did you know about the club before joining?

JPS: To be honest, not too much: I only really knew of the club by name. But, when I joined the Saints to play I started to research about the club's history and things like that.

SMM: Southampton were struggling on and off the field at the time of you joining. What was the atmosphere like around the club and in the dressing room?

JPS: Yes we were struggling but everybody in the club had confidence we would stay up and avoid relegation from The Championship. There was no doubt about that for us. But, it didn't work out.

The only thing we wanted that year is to try to get above the relegation zone so the club didn't have to start the next season with a ten point deduction. But, unfortunately we didn't make it.

SMM: What memories stick in your mind about your time at Southampton?

JPS: Definitely Watford away. As a defender, it was the first time in my life I scored two goals in one match.

SMM: That Watford free-kick. What a goal! Tell us about it.

JPS: I was the only guy in the squad who was practicing free-kicks in training. All my Saints teammates would be watching me: often shouting "KEEP PRACTICING, JP!" and laughing together when I would blaze a free-kick over the bar.

When that Watford free-kick when in, everybody stood there with their mouths wide open. That was a great moment for me - I still get goosebumps just thinking about it to this very day.

(Goal is at 2:15)

SMM: You played with the likes of Nathan Dyer, Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana at the time. What players stood out to you as being talented? Are you surprised at their success since 2009?

JPS: I am not surprised at all! They were already very, very good at that age but were still young. I am proud to have played with them and love to see all the success they are having now.

SMM: Why didn't you stay at Southampton after the 2008/2009 season?

JPS: We had an agreement which was I would be offered a contract if Southampton had stayed up in the Championship. But, due to us not surviving relegation, I had to go back to the Netherlands.

I still tried to get a move to Southampton. But, due to there being no board or ownership that summer, it couldn't happen.

SMM: There is a lot of Dutch influence at Southampton right now with Ronald Koeman as manager, as well as signings of former Eredevisie players such as Eljero Elia, Toby Alderweireld, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle. How does this make you feel?

JPS: It's great for Dutch football as it shows how well players and coaches from the area can succeed in England - a better level of competition than what you find in Holland.

I actually played alongside Elia at ADO Den Haag and he has learned a lot since then and is a good player. Koeman was a great player and is proving to be a fantastic coach so it is no surprise to see him enjoying success at Southampton.

SMM: Finally, how impressed are you with Southampton's rise up the leagues over the last few years?

JPS: I am not surprised at all: the moment I joined Southampton, I realised how it's a club which belongs in the Premier League.

So please: stay in the Premier League and never go down so I can watch the Saints on television every weekend!