speaks One-on-One with FourFourTwo
Edgar ‘The Pitbull’ Davids, no-nonsense midfielder for Holland, Ajax, Juventus and more, answers questions from FourFourTwo readers – and threatens one of them – back in the New Year 2010 issue.
“Are you gay?” growls Edgar Davids, radiating a palpable sense of menace as Soccer AM concludes an interview for its ‘Team Mates’ feature with the usual final question: “Who’s the longest in the shower?” Clearly not a viewer of the show, the Dutchman misses the humour, bristling at the thought of being the butt of some unexplained joke.
The drama unfolds in the atrium of a top London eatery, as FFT waits to speak to the former Juventus, Tottenham and Barcelona midfielder with a growing sense of trepidation. After all, the spiky midfield enforcer has just spent the past 15 minutes returning each question with a cold stare before barking back a sharp answer. Armed with your questions – some that touch on the more controversial moments of his career – FFT fears it could be next to be mauled by The Pitbull.
But then this seems to be his default mode. His natural aggression – combined with boundless energy and drive – was key to his success has a player, helping Ajax to three titles and a European Cup, plus three Serie A titles with Juventus, leading Marcello Lippi to call him “my one man engine-room”.
And as he takes a seat, Davids still looks capable of shaping a midfield to his will. He offers a gruff acknowledgement and pauses to send a text as we explain our readers provided the questions. “What, for me?” he says, temporarily softening at the idea that the British public take an interest in his career. Not that this compels him to answer everything: he dismisses queries on Euro 96 (where he was expelled from the Dutch squad) and bust-ups with Robbie Keane and Marco van Basten.
We start on less shaky ground as we question him on his role as a judge for Red Bull’s Street Style UK Final, a competition to find the country’s top freestyle footballer. “Some of these guys can do amazing things – I was nowhere near as good,” says the former Dutch international, eyeing up your questions as we brace ourselves for a prickly encounter.
Is it true that growing up you got the nickname ‘The King of the Street’ because of your prowess as a freestyle footballer?
Stuart Hardy, Bristol
I was the ‘Mayor of the Street’, never the king. The name was not because of freestyle football. It was because I used to play street soccer – games of three-against-three and five-against-five – with my brother. My brother was better when we were younger, but I went past him because I was with the Ajax Academy, so I was playing with the country’s best players every day.
What is it about Suriname that helps to produce players like yourself, Clarence Seedorf, Ruud Gullit, Patrick Kluivert and other top Dutch players?
Matt Boyle, via e-mail
I think it was the genes, the DNA. I was born there and came over when I was two, and Clarence was born there – but Patrick was born in Holland, so it’s the genes. Also the food. There is a vegetable like a bitter cucumber, which is steamed. Everyone eats that – it gives you power to keep going in games.
Why was the Ajax Academy so successful? You were schooled at the club, too; which player was the worst at getting their homework in on time?
Sarah Poole, via e-mail
The club had the best scouts, so they would go out and attract the best young players in Holland. Then they would teach us how to amplify our skill level by getting us to play two-touch football. We had a specific athletic coach, a running coach, a fitness coach. We would play a lot of games but also a lot of position play. As for school, there was no time to mess about: it was school then football, school and football.
You started at Ajax as a left-winger and struggled. How did you make the transition to midfield?
Andrew Edmonds, via e-mail
I started as a left-winger and second striker: a No.10. What is different in the Ajax system for a midfielder is that they can attack and also defend, so it is maybe that you have the holding player on the outside who is always protecting or defending. That’s the system. It was Louis van Gaal’s idea to move my position. Marc Overmars started playing on the left and was really good, so he had to adapt the situation to where I played in the midfield. On the left wing I felt isolated, but in the middle I was more part of the game.
Where did your nickname ‘The Pitbull’ come from? Is it true you’re also nicknamed ‘The Piranha’? Where did that come from and which do you prefer?
Kirsty Cartwright, via e-mail
Van Gaal gave me the name Pitbull at Ajax. He said that on the defensive side, I was always on the forward – at his ankles. The name Piranha came from one of the former Ajax team managers. It’s a metaphor – a fish that bites ankles and does damage. In South America they call me Tubarao – The Shark. Do I have a favourite? Pitbull.
Like a lot of the team that beat AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League Final,
you were in your early 20s. Were you nervous playing on such a big stage?
Stevie Jo Fowler, Gillingham
Of course, though we already beat them twice [Ajax beat AC Milan home and away in the group stages] so if you beat somebody twice you know that you only need to play well. They’d already won a couple of Champions League titles, so they were still a very good team. I was nervous myself and we weren’t really confident we’d win – I was glad we scored late in the game. When we won, it was like the whole of Holland came out. Looking back, you see that it was a part of history – a great achievement.
Is it true you once approached former Dutch tennis player Richard Krajicek and said: “Hello, my name is Edgar Davids. You’ll be hearing a lot about me soon”?
Chris Brown, via e-mail
I don’t think I was that cocky. I knew him because we have the same physio. [FFT: So that story isn’t true then?] Not entirely true, but also in that time it could be true. I was young and reckless. Has anyone done that to me? Yeah, but I’m not going to tell.
What were you thinking when England beat Holland 4-1 in Euro 1996 and you’d been sent home? Do you think that defeat highlighted your importance?
Chris Beland, Leatherhead
[Bristling] I don’t know. It was a very long time ago.
You joined AC Milan in 1996 and broke your leg soon after. Was it hard being injured in a new country and at a new club?
David Standing, Grimsby
That was one of the worst times I’ve ever had because you don’t speak the language very well; you’re sitting at home with your television, but you can’t really understand it. The first couple of weeks you can’t move with your leg because you are afraid of thrombosis. It was bad. It helped that every couple of weeks, I was driven to Amsterdam because that’s where I was recuperating.
When Juventus came in for you after your time at AC Milan, were you hesitant about joining another Italian side?
Dan Watton, Plymouth
Never. I was happy because I’ve followed Juventus all my life and at that moment they were second in the league and AC Milan were eighth, so it was like a gift from heaven. It was when everything fell into place. [FFT: What was the key to settling?] I was fit. At Milan I was injured. A lot of it was down to Lippi. He had confidence in me, and when he has confidence in someone he puts them in straight away.
At Juventus you were diagnosed with glaucoma. Were you worried that you might have to retire?
Ben Berry, Newcastle
Yeah, it was quite a big blow. I was worried and I did think I might have to retire. But then I found out there were options: wear goggles. It was strange the first time I had to play in them: they would steam up so it took time to adjust, but I don’t think it affected my performances. [FFT: Did anyone make fun of you for wearing them?] Yeah. [FFT: Who?] I don’t want to say.
At Juventus, you formed one of the best midfield partnerships ever with Zidane. What was the key to the relationship?
Chris Ward, via e-mail
Trust. It’s about trust and about energy. If you have this connection with someone anyway, then you know what’s going to happen. It’s about feelings; about knowing football on a certain level. And we both understood football on the same level.
Is it true someone once tried to nick
your car while you were still in it, so you chased them off? Does anything scare you? Heights? The dark? Clowns?
Chris Peck, Bath
No, that’s not true. [FFT: Are you scared of anything?] No, not really. I guess if I’m on top of a really tall building without a parachute, I would be scared.
Thierry Henry once said that you used to walk around the house and make tea while juggling a football…
Nathan Bonney, Manchester
Yeah. In all rooms of my house I had a ball. So if I saw a ball was there, I would juggle with it. [FFT: Ever spill tea while juggling a ball in the house?]. It could be. If I did it would only have caused minor burns. [FFT: Ever do anything else while juggling a ball?] Yeah, brush my teeth.
You’ve said that after Juve’s Champions League defeat to Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League Semi-Final, you should have won the first leg? Did Juve travel to Old Trafford with too much respect for United?
Aron Braund, via e-mail
No, I don’t think so. It’s difficult to win at Old Trafford. You have to be confident because Old Trafford is Old Trafford; you’re playing against Manchester United. We were the better team but the better team doesn’t always win. The second leg, it was some game, but frustrating. A lot of our players didn’t reach their potential. But there are no regrets. They played well and you have to give credit where it’s due.
With Holland you reached both the
semi-finals of World Cup 98 and Euro 2000. Which Dutch team was better?
Dan Metherell, via e-mail
The ’98 team was better because of the atmosphere, the players. The team was really balanced. But it is what it is – it’s one of the best teams I’ve played in, but it’s not a disappointment. What can you say? In Euro 2000, we missed two penalties in a semi-final defeat to Italy. I’ve never played in a game when there are two missed penalties. So, it is what it is.
Both times you got to the Champions League final with Juve you lost to teams that included Clarence Seedorf. Does
he ever bring that up? I know I would!
Gregory Giles, via e-mail
He would? If he knew me he wouldn’t. Clarence knows me – so he didn’t say anything.
At 5ft 7in, you’re smaller than a lot of the other hardmen midfielders of your era. Did your size mean that, from an early age, you’d fight harder on the pitch? Who’s the hardest player you’ve faced?
Lee Smith, via e-mail
It’s not all about size; it’s about positioning. I think it’s a harder job playing against players like Iniesta and Xavi because you have to stay in your position and read the game. It’s not about hard work and getting back; it’s about when you get back. Van Gaal taught me to play tactically. The hardest player? I like Keane. I also like Dennis Wise. And listen, Paul Scholes was very tough too.
Is it true that while at Barça, you and Ronaldinho had skills competitions and you’d win most of the time? Who’s the most skilful player you’ve played with?
James Williamson, Portsmouth
It was not like that, never. It’s more like you do skills in the park and try to come up with new things. For skills and tricks, Ronaldinho was the best player I’ve played with. The other was Peter Hoekstra; he used to play for Ajax and Stoke City.
You won over a lot of Spurs fans during
a game against Middlesbrough when you clattered into former Arsenal player Ray Parlour. Do you remember that game? Did you enjoy playing in England?
Glen Bickle, via e-mail
Yeah, I knew about Ray Parlour; I knew he was a former Arsenal player. But once on the pitch I couldn’t care less who the player is. Every tackle is the same. The game in England was more physical and fast. Did I enjoy this? Yes and no, because sometimes when you play in the middle of the park, you just put the team into place and play the ball. In England, people are like “you have to run box-to-box”. Why do you have to run box-to-box if it’s not necessary?
Martin Jol said he wanted you to bring
a ‘winning mentality’ to Tottenham.
Did you find that hard?
Liam Sandercock, via e-mail
Yeah. If you are a top side it’s normal that you try to win every game. It’s not only that you have to change the mentality of the team, but also you have to change the club because if you want to play with the big boys, you have to play like the big boys. They don’t. Some players, if you draw, used to act in a certain way that wasn’t in line with a top team. If you draw you can say: “Yeah, it’s OK” but no… you have to win.
The papers said you and Robbie Keane were involved in a bust-up. What was
he thinking going up against you!?
Colin Mere, London
That was nothing…
How close were you to joining Leicester City this summer? Why didn’t the move happen? Were there any other English clubs trying to sign you?
John Marsh, via e-mail
I heard they enquired and spoke to certain people but I never talked to them. There was a chance of joining an English team at the start of the season, but I never spoke to anyone. I wanted to train with a team – I haven’t officially retired yet – but a lot of clubs saw it as a threat because of the media attention my signing brings. It puts pressure on the team and the players.
Interview: Hitesh Ratna. Portrait: Richie Hopson.
A Phenomenon at 50
Hitting the age of 50 is a landmark and a milestone to be celebrated. Fifty years and still counting, Aremo Olusiji Balogun, is a phenomenon and a case study in humanity.
He is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria among others. He is the Founder of Ase Youth Association and several other organisations.
His company Promec Innovative Concepts was a child of necessity when his attempt to register Prince Royal Media Concept (Promec) at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) met a brick wall.
Olusiji Balogun is a media guru and an organizational growth and business development expert with adaptable skills. He is able to use own initiative or work as part of a team. An efficient and effective Human Resources Manager, community worker, excellent communicator at all levels within and outside organizations; he has good problem solving and analytical skills with pioneering spirit.
Olusij’s specific interests include teaching and learning for new product development, business development, participatory social activities, keen insight into the needs of others and with high energy, initiative and focus, proven leadership skills including managing and motivating others to achieve objectives.
An effective community and social worker, he is fluent with information technology and capable of handling executive assignments and leadership. His other qualities include being positive with potential ideas, he has the ability to work with anyone under any condition or situation and contribute greatly to achieving the best goals of the establishment.
Oluwasijibomi Gideon Balogun was born on the 8th September, 1972 in Ondo town to the family of Samuel Olusegun Balogun and Mrs Grace Remilekun Balogun of Ase Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State. Both parents are retired Civil Servants. Olusiji was raised up with strong Christian virtue.
He had his early education at St. Luke’s Primary School, Akure but finished at Muslim Primary School, Ikaram Akoko, all in Ondo State, where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate. He subsequently earned his West African Senior School Certificate in 1990 after attending Omoluorogbo Grammar School, Akure before proceeding to Ala Community Comprehensive High School, Ala-Elefosan, Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He also attended the Institute of Journalism and Nigerian Institute of Journalism, (NIJ), Akure Campus for his Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations, after a sojourn at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) briefly in the Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. He also went to Akwa-Ibom State Polytechnic, for his Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.
He later proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State for his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration.
He is a Member of various professional bodies.
After leaving school, Olusiji started working as a freelance Journalist and Printer. He started Eminent Leaders Magazine in 1996 and registered Prince Royal Media Concepts with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 1999 which he upgraded to Eminent Leaders World Communications Limited publisher of Eminent Leaders magazine.
He worked with several organisations where he left indelible footprints of punctuality, hard work and professionalism. He worked with Mentors Communications, Abuja in different capacities. At Mentors Communications, he was the pioneer Editor of Rootswatch Magazine. He was Technical Assistant to the Managing Director of Quarry Managers Company in Abuja, headed by the late Abdulhakeem Amao. He was Special Event Manager with ITAD/MotMacdonald/PWC in Calabar and Water Supply and Sanitation Reform Programme (WSSRP) in Abuja. Both projects under the Integrated Water Resource Management European Commission.
He also had a stint with Hatlab Delight as a Business Development Manager and Head of Administration, O.T. Otis Engineering Limited. He resigned his appointment with Successory Nigeria Limited, Abuja, as Head of Project Management, in year 2019 to move his outfit forward.
Olusiji Balogun experience in politics is vast. His team helped installed Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko as Ondo State Governors. He was the nucleus of Olusegun Mimiko Campaign Organisation for his second term when he was Editor of Grassroots Vanguard Newspaper of Grassroots Network.
He attempted to contest for the coveted seat of Ondo State Governor in 2020.
His experience in administration is versed as he is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Full Member Institute of Professional Administrators and Managers (IPMA) and many other professional bodies. He is a partner in many companies and Chief Executive Officer of Promec Innovative Entrepreneurship and Science Academy (PIESA) and several other firms.
He currently has his hand in farming as he started Ase Farms Nigeria Limited, asefarms.com.ng.
His hobby includes travelling, reading, surfing the internet and adventures.
Ambassador Bayo Lawal Appointed American Diplomatic Representative in Brazil Ambassador Bayo Lawal, is truly a chip off the block. Born in Osogbo, Osun State of Nigeria, into the royal house of Olumodi Oyipiloye and Asuni Compound (Maternal) Osogbo. Bayo Lawal has become the first Nigerian to receive an American diplomatic status in Brazil. At a diplomatic ceremony held on the 17th of December, 2021 in the executive auditorium of the State Legislative Council, Saopaulo , Brazil, the American Government, through its Diplomatic Mission of International Relations (ADMIR) sworn In Ambassador Bayo Lukman Lawal as one of its appointed diplomatic representatives of the American diplomatic mission in Brazil. The humanitarian and diplomatic mission , which for the first time, included a Nigerian living in Brazil, inaugurated other important personalties in Brazil as members of its humanitarian project scheduled for Africa and Europe in the year 2022. Bayo Lawal is from a royal and polygamous house where hardwork is the hallmark. Though born by a successful business man popularly known as “Were Nise Oluwa”, Bayo Lawal has been a focused, hard-working and persevering youngman. His stint with the Osun State Board of Internal Revenue after his days at The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, set him in a progress pedestal. At the Board of Internal Revenue, his hardworking nature, made him a darling of all. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, before leaving the shores of Nigeria, originated the idea of honouring women in Nigerian society in 1999, tagged “Women Entrepreneur Merit Award” organised by Spotlight Media Ventures. He was then the PRO and Reporter for the firm. Ambassador Bayo Lawal and other personalities like the notable former Brazilian football captain, Capitão Cafu , the Saopaulo State First Lady, Mrs. Bia Doria, the Director of Federal Police, the Honorable speaker of the House of Assembly in Saopaulo , Representatives from several African and European countries witnessed the event. According to the President of the mission in Brazil, Dr. Fernando Navarro, the principal function of the American diplomatic mission of International relations is simple, it is humanitarian, it is helping to make the world a better place to live, he said the mission is to combat hunger and help the needy. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, who has lived in Brazil for over twenty years has worked in different functions in the international relations, he is an administrator who has led his team of excellent professionals within and outside Brazil. He is the presently the CEO of Mab Consulting Services, an International Trade and Business Development company with spread in the South America, Africa, China, USA, Europe and UAE. Bayo Lawal, who served as a Business Consultant at Grupo Empresarial Costa Negocios, taught courses in several English Schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was Business English Teacher For Executives between 1999 – 2014. He worked at the Costa Negocios Group, FGV Projetos, Bimex Comercial Ltda., and many others. In his interview with Heritage news, Ambassador Lawal said “I am dedicating my achievements in Brazil to the Almighty God and also to my late parents, Prince Yekeen Lawal and Mrs. Bolanle Lawal. I also owe this success to my family in Brazil , my friends and colleagues who are always by me.” Ambassador Bayo Lawal said he is ready to work with all humanitarian organizations in Nigeria and overseas, using his office as an ambassador to help better the standards of every Nigerian, African immigrants in Brazil and around the world. He promised to lead projects of housing estates to Osogbo and other necessary locals in Nigeria.Ambassador Bayo Lawal is married to an Italian descendant Brazilian, Mrs. Sara Guerino Lawal and blessed with three children; Nathalie Mariam Oyenike Lawal, Derick Afeez Oyewale Lawal and Allan Khalil Babatunde Lawal.
Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode was born in Akure and hails from Oba-Ile. She’s the daughter of Chief Joseph Bayode and Pastor Mrs Bayode.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, RN, BSN, MD, is a trained medical professional but with an unusual passion for the well-being of the less privileged. Having travelled far and wide,Tolulola share an uncanny obsession of giving abandoned children and widows another shot at life,employing both her professional training and God given resources in assisting the less privileged at will leading her to initiating Dorian Home for Displaced Children & Mothers Initiative.
The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council appointed this Akure born philanthropist Dr. Tolulola Bayode as Head, Social Affairs and Health Cluster Committee. The job description entails implementing the overall goals of the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio in line with the AU Agenda 2063, Sets annual performance targets for the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio and report on annual progress to Specialized Technical Committees and AU Policy Organs.
In 2009, Dr.Bayode established Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). She’s the CEO/ President. Her personal encounter and experience in the course of discharging her professional duties, most especially in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, Community/Rural Medical Outreach programs, just to mention a few, afforded her a first-hand and comprehensive understanding of the plethora of unsavoury plights of women and children in our society.
Dorian Home is the biggest orphanage home in Africa, consisting of 700 homes for children,500-capacity skill acquisition centre for women, large hall for events, modern clinic and a worship centre. Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development is situated at Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Described as the biggest orphanage home in Africa, the ultramodern facility worth $5million and was finally commissioned on the 14th of October 2021.
Dorian Home is not limited to taking care of just abandoned babies and widows but also focused on research, training, empowerment and mobilize women towards self-emancipation. A glamorous persona imbued with the philosophy of giving hope to the hopeless, creating a better living condition for the abandoned, Tolulola is in the forefront of Safe Haven Law in Nigeria – the leaving of unharmed infants with statutorily designated private persons so that the child becomes a ward of the state with proper upbringing.
At the commissioning of the home, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, called for the provision of adequate welfare for vulnerable children and women in the society. The vice president commended Bayode for making provision of the basic needs of homeless children and women her passion. He said that about nine per cent of Nigerian children were homeless; a figure Osinbajo said seems to be growing rapidly. The vice president, however, called on well meaning Nigerians to join hands with the government to provide adequate care for the homeless children, saying that government alone could not do it. Osinbajo described the laudable project as one that would stand the test of time for the less privileged and empowerment for women in society.
During her speech, the Founder and President of Dorian Home, Dr Tolulola Bayode, said that vision of the project was about leaving a legacy of hope for the orphaned children, widows and less privileged women in the society. According to Bayode, reality dawned on her after the shocking demise of her elder brother, the purpose of man on earth is to touch life and uplift humanity. Bayode said the covenant she had with God to have the home was based on her love for humanity, widow, indigent and displaced children to live a better life. She also appealed to the government to provide adequate security checkpoints along Akure/Idanre Road, adding that the future of any child should not be toiled with. She emphasised that not that she has the resources but has a heart of giving.
Represented at the ocassion, was the governor of Ondo State represented by his Deputy, Mr Lucky Ayadatiwa, who said that the project compliment the administration’s REDEEM agenda of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. He commended the Founder of the home for her initiative. Akeredolu described the project as unique because it focus on the neglected section of the society. Akeredolu said the project would receive the support and patronage of the state government. He said the state government would continue to support the social initiative programmes of the Dorian Home.
Also, speaking at the ocassion, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, urged people to emulate the kind gesture that counts for the good of humanity by trying to make the society a better place for humanity. Alasoadura said that Nigeria would be a better place, if everyone tried to provide a home like heaven on Earth, especially for the displaced and indigent children, just as the orphanage.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, as a natural social and talented care giver has continually provided training, education and health consultations in the non-profit entrepreneurial sector to youths in different parts of the world and has successfully maneuvered the delicate balance between dedication to mission in a wide range of settings. Aside her passion for the creating a better living for commoners, she has years of extensive managerial experience in the non-profit sector, with outstanding records in getting initiatives off the ground and flourishing.
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