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Southampton's new Dutch legend

With Saints' high-profile Dutch manager Ronald Koeman leaving for Everton in the summer, it would be easy to think the club's love affair with The Netherlands was over.

Southampton's pre-season tour in Holland must have been booked in well before Ronald Koeman's departure for Everton.

Under Koeman's tenure, Saints embraced Dutch football with open arms. Southampton bought players from the Eredivisie such as Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle. Next up, Dutchmen Virgil van Dijk and Jordy Clasie made the move to the south coast. We played Vitesse Arnhem in our brief Europa League adventure... Hell, we even have streams of Feyenoord fans travelling over to sample St. Mary's away from their Rotterdam home.

With Koeman leaving for pastures new in the manner of which it was conducted, you'd be forgiven for thinking Saints' love affair with Dutch football was dead. Wrong.

During this year's friendly tour in Holland, Saints played the Koeman brothers' first, beloved club in Groningen - a rather innocuous final fixture of the tour as Claude Puel's men try to gain fitness over the summer pre-season.

Saints won 1-0 via a Charlie Austin header with minutes left. But, the most memorable moment in that match was provided by a young Dutch Saints fan named Stijn.

Rightfully, Stijn's fine rendition of "Shane Long's on Fire" was appreciated by Southampton fans and, without wanting to generalise, most people would've thought that particular tweet was the full extent of young Stijn's new-found infamy. Wrong.

Stijn and his parents were asked to appear on Dutch television so Europe's most famous Saints fan could sing about his favourite player once again. It was a platform worthy of Stijn's talents and sheer passion for Southampton. I hope the Red Stripez are taking note - get this kid involved!

The video was rightfully noticed by Stijn's hero in Shane Long, who promptly expressed his gratitude for such vociferous support.

It's been a whirlwind for Stijn's mum Cindy, who has long supported Southampton. So, we thought it was only right to give the mother of St. Stijn to describe their love for the Saints and how crazy this summer has been for her family.


St. Mary's Musings: Where did Stijn's passion for Southampton come from?
Cindy: We started supporting Southampton on 8th August 1994. Saints had a friendly in Holland against ARC, our local football club where my husband and his friends were playing in the lower divisions and they were supporting the first team. They started to talk with the Saints supporters and some of them invited the Dutch group to come over to Southampton, so they gave each other phone numbers and it happened! They went to Southampton and they loved it! The whole atmosphere, the English football style and of course the beer.

After that they started to go a few times a year. One of the guys even met a woman in Southampton and married her. When I met my husband he also took me to Southampton because I also love football. So I also became a Saint. That's the reason Stijn is growing up with the Saints and he (and his little sister) are also big Southampton fans. They both like football and of course singing the songs. ;)

SMM: How often do you get to St. Mary's?
Cindy: Last season I went to six games. I want to go more often buts it's too expensive, unfortunately! Stijn 's first game was the friendly against Groningen last year. He started singing loudly last season, too. But, that was in the away stand behind the glass so nobody else except the Saints fans heard it. This game against Groningen was his second game.

We'll be taking Stijn to St. Mary's for the first time this season. That was already the plan before all this happened.

SMM: What has the reaction been like for you and your family?

Cindy: We have been getting reactions from all over the world. People in Holland love it - Stijn is even being recognised in the supermarket we go to! There were even some adults who wanted to make a sefie with Stijn. The first week following the Twitter post, we had interviews every day - it's quite amazing.

From England, we have got a lot of positive reactions. I don't know about England, but in Holland we call this time of the year 'cucumber time'. It means there's no big news on the television, so they're making big news from small things to have something to write about. That's happening with Stijn right now. Stijn still likes it, so that's the most important thing.

SMM: As you're Dutch, it would be amiss to not talk about Koeman. What did you make of his exit?
Cindy: For the club, it's a pity he left. I didn't know anything about Claude Puel, but what I've seen is alright so far. So I think Puel's the right man for the club and he will help the team with his European experience.

I know Ronald as a nice man. I can't be angry on him because I understand the reason, that's not (only?) the money.

SMM: What was Stijn's reaction once Shane Long replied to your tweet?
Cindy: I should have filmed Stijns reaction when he saw the tweet of Shane Long, but I think my phone would be broken. He was so excited that he was screaming so loud - half the town must have heard him that Shane 'talked' to him! It was so funny and cute to see how happy a little boy can be with a few words from his idol.

SMM: Finally, how do you think this season will go for Southampton?
Cindy: I can't say anything about the Europa League because we're still waiting for the schedule. But, hopefully we'll be better than last year in the Premier League like we have been doing the last few years. Oh and it really should be nice to finish above both Everton and Liverpool!



We would like to thank Cindy for taking the time in talking to us. Oh and thank her for raising one of the most passionate Saints the world has seen - Stijn!