The best game I ever watched as a spectator was when the new stadium was being built in Amsterdam.
I spend a short time travelling to the south-east of Amsterdam when I was going to school in the north of the city. The underground would rise and I could see the stadium being build every time I passed. At the time I was spending a lot of time with my older brother who was training me. I would tell him my experience of seeing the stadium and then quickly share it with my mother too.
My mother told my brother not to tell me I had chance of making it as a pro, but later she would tell me to believe in myself and that one day I might be given a chance. I would go to school, and each day would see the stands being build. A few weeks later I would see the pitch, and later the training ground.
I would say to myself every day I hope that one day I would play on that pitch. I am sure the people around me in the underground would look at me whispering to my self, thinking what is this guy saying to himself. They didn’t know my dream and they couldn’t hear me. But I would say to my self “come on Mario, please play to give yourself the chance to enter the field and make sure it is not a one-off thing.”
I went to the famous tournament called Den Helder with Ajax 2 and ended up winning the tournament against AZ 1, where I became the best player with another player on my team. As I arrived home my Ajax physio came to tell me personally that I had been picked and had to make my way to train with the first team the following day.
Louis Van Gaal was the coach at the time, and after that training session, he said you need to be ready for the opening of the stadium. Yes on the opening day of the Ajax stadium that I would travel past and dream of playing on.
When the day came I was one of the players that made the warmup look like it was a marathon. After the warmup, I come on against AC Milan and I was as nervous as anyone could imagine, but also so happy. The marathon of a warmup made both legs feel too heavy to perform. I played the game as good as I could but I gave away a penalty and we ended up losing the game.
I went back to school and quickly got another call-up. This time I prepared better and decided to never make a warmup like that again. We were one-nil up and I came on to stop the opposition number 10. We won the game and that was the start of my professional career in a winning team called Ajax. #mmlove