When I was at Ajax a player called Gerald Sibon joined the club from Roda, and like most people from the capital, we thought that people from places outside of Amsterdam were a little slower and more naive sometimes. When they arrive at Ajax they have to be twice as aware of everything.
It only took a couple of training sessions to see that Gerald needed some time to settle in. We used to do a drill where it would be three on three plus a keeper on both sides. The idea was that tackles would come flying in and you could shoot from one goal to another if you aren’t closing down your man quick enough. Whenever we would play this intense game Sibon would close you down so late that you really felt like you were training with your grandmother in the park. He would get bullied with trickery like crazy, by any teammate.
Sibon would get nutmegged over and over and keep falling on the floor, so his teammates would be screaming to him: “come on, are you awake Gerald?” When the training was done this guy looked like he was lost and didn’t know what happened to him.
His teammates were angry because they lost, and this was a game that was played seriously at the weekend because the coaches were standing around the pitch screaming “Reds are beating yellows so easy, oh my god!”
Trust me, every player would get pumped from this. After this intense game we would be back in the dressing room gloating, dancing around and celebrating because we won. All just to make them feel worse – we acted like kids and we didn’t care.
We could see Gerald Sibon sitting in his chair and Richard Witschge, the clown of the team, walked over to him and asked, “bro you need to work on studying the game because it’s going too fast for you. We are all getting TVs tomorrow so that no one has an excuse not to be ready to understand every training session and set up.”
Gerald said: “I need more than that to keep up but that’s a great start.” Richard responded: “Good we should get the TVs in a couple of days.”
Two days later we enter the dressing room and four players had a box at their seats. Gerald asked: “Why isn’t everyone getting TVs?” Richard said: “Some got given their TVs yesterday and some will get them today, including you.”
Gerald was super excited and said: “Great because I brought my wife’s car with me today.” You cloud see the excitement in his face.
We finished training and Gerald was helped by some players to get the box to his car because it was really heavy. The next morning we were supposed to play this fast intense game again at training, so Gerald came into the dressing room and the coach explain what we were going to do.
Richard said: “Whoever is on Gerald’s team is going to have a problem because he prepared very well. Tell them Gerald.”
Gerald looked up angry and said: “You guys are D******* for tricking me!” Everyone asked what happened and Gerald explained: “I came home tired from training and struggled for a long time to carry this heavy box inside the house on my own. In the evening I decided to unpack it, I’m super excited and opened the box to set up my TV and found the box is full of stones!”
Imagine a group of guys, and bare in mind most of us didn’t know what had happened, so everyone including the coach just started laughing and rolling on the floor. We couldn’t believe he was so stupid to think the club is just going to hand out TVs to players to learn about the training sessions (clubs would give you a video tape or a DVD, but that would be it, you have to go and buy a TV yourself).
The moral of the story is, whenever you are new at a job find the clown and don’t take him serious because he’ll get you.