• Wiktoria Kornat

Danielle van de Donk - the maestro and a quiet heroine of the Dutch success

Updated: Apr 10



28 year old Dutchprofessional footballer is currently playing at Arsenal Ladies after she joined them on November 2015 from Goteborg. Earlier she had been playing at PSV.


Dutch women's football is experiencing an amazing boom these days. It's not surprising at all. Incredibly ambitious players, mostly playing in top clubs in top European leagues in combination with a coach who has a baggage of experience. Year 2017 - quite unexpected European Championship, although fully deserved. Year 2019 - another surprise, World Vice Championship, again undoubtedly fully deserved. And words of appreciation for the Dutch football association, the team is guaranteed excellent conditions for development, professionalism. That's great, because, as we know, not every team can count on professional support from its federation.




Dutch National Team is a brand in itself, a forge of talents. Most of us when we hear about the Netherlands women's national football team (also known as "Oranje Leeuwinnnen"), think straightaway about stars such as: Vivianne Miedema, Shanice van de Sanden, Lieke Martens, Jackie Groenen and Danielle van de Donk. And there is nothing surprising here, all of them are footballers from the world top of women's football. However, I think that one of the players mentioned by me is slightly underrated. I don't devalue anyone, but I must admit that we are delighted with an amazing goals by Miedema (she is unbelievable), brilliant dynamics and speed from Shanice, great dribbling and shots by Martens, or an extremely sophisticated ball presented by Groenen. Meanwhile, van de Donk still remains somewhat in the shadow. Yes, I'm a fan of this woman. In my opinion, without neglecting any of the Dutch's players, because each was part of the Dutch success, Danielle is a quiet heroine of this team. Yes, you could miss it, she is so tiny (sorry, little joke). But I have never seen such a small person with such a big heart to play. She never lets go, she literally runs all over the pitch, from offensive to defensive. She leaves her whole heart on the pitch.


In addition, she shows the admirable peace of mind in the game, her calm when she has to play under pressure can impress. She calls herself a feisty person and I think that everyone who follows her career, like me, agrees.

An amazing warrior with a slightly explosive character. But I think that both the Netherlands and her club teammates from Arsenal, are happy that they have such a valiant player in their teams (especially friends from Arsenal, when Daan in their defense pushes the referee demanding a red card for the opponent). Some may say that she is too impulsive. Maybe a little sometimes, but this fighting spirit defines the winners. I started following Danielle's career when she was already an Arsenal player. I decided to watch Arsenal's match and from the very beginning she caught my attention. Arsenal has many players on world top level - Kim Little, Lisa Evans, Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead and many more... But this little warrior caught my attention.

It was love at first sight (I'm talking about her game and style of playing obviously ;)). Later, I decided to watch her performances when she was still PSV's and Gothenburg's player.




27-year-old Danielle is a player already experienced, but still hungry for successes. And the fact that she came to Arsenal only confirms this, because the English league is developing at a great pace and the Arsenal Ladies team is reporting big ambitions. Due to winning the English WSL, Arsenal gained the place in the Women's Champions League 2019/2020. The hunger for success defines the winners. Arsenal won the league in the 18/19 season, FA Women's Cup in the 2015/16 season and FA WSL Cup in the 2017/18 season. Is something missing here? Yes, triumph in the Champions League. And I think that this goal is at hand in the upcoming season. Looking at the stats of Danielle, you can see that as a midfielder she is a player who scores quite a lot of goals. Last season in Arsenal, 19 appearances, 12 goals and 6 assists. 3 seasons in the Dutch league (PSV) - 53 performances , 30 goals - impressive.


Once I decided to do a personal analysis of her passing accuracy in one match. I choose the Arsenal - Chelsea match from April 1, 2018. Why this game? To be honest, I don't know, but I definitely wanted to analyze the match, in which the opponent of Arsneal will be a very demanding team. Hence the choice of this match. Earlier, watching Daan's games, whether in Arsenal or in the national team, it immediately caught my eye on the refined football she plays. Thoughtful, accurate, controlled even when playing under pressure. What I immediately noticed is the fact that her passes are almost 100% accurate. I know, it is nothing surprising from the midfielder. that's their role and that is expected from them. Nevertheless, her style of playing made me smile. So, let's get back to that game - Arsenal vs Chelsea, 1th of April 2018. She had 11 accurate passes on 11 attempts. The first inaccurate pass occurred in the 26th minute of the game. After the first half, she had 24 attempts of which 21 were on target. Which gives us 87.5 percent efficiency. A really good result for a central midfielder. But not only this defines this player as a world top. Her ability to read the game, to set in the defense, her consciousness of mind during counterattacks - the hands themselves make for applause. We can often see Danielle coming back to defense and then making a sacrificial sliding tackle to take the ball from opponent's feet. Sometimes I wonder if she ever gets tired. So hard working on the whole width and length of the pitch. 90 minutes of the match and I see a full sprint and successful reception of the ball. Titanic work. As I said a small human but with a big heart to play. She is totally devoted to football.


A few days ago in an interview with Dutch football magazine - Voetbal International - she said: "I really need to get much better. I want to be the best. I can only improve myself by looking back at all my performances and studying the opponent beforehand. Of course, you'll still make mistakes and that is allowed, but I want to make fewer and fewer mistakes and really keep the upward trend." She wants to become the best in the world. She prefers life to be simple. She wanted to be the best in the world and she still wants to be. Yes, she is confident. Danielle van de Donk is someone who says what she thinks. But whenever she speaks, she says very important things, her words contain great wisdom. In another interview Danielle said: "Being strong for me is about choosing to be kind to people. It's so important. It's also about being yourself in a world where there will always be people who have an opinion about whaty you say and do." She's kind of special. Almost always angry with herself, always looking for the right mode. A perfectionist. She is constantly looking for the way to fully demonstrate her potential. To be a distinctive player. Van de Donk - the small number 10 in midfield. The one who is never satisfied with herself and combines a lion's heart with an unprecedented technique.




You can look at the statistics and say: yes, but she doesn't have such impressive statistics (number of goals / assists) at Arsenal or with the Netherlands National Team. After all, there are other players in her position who have better statistics. Yes, you can say that. But football is not only about the statistics. Because sometimes the most important is what you can't write on paper. And she is the most hard-working player I've ever seen in my life. The amount of hard work she leaves on the pitch, as a midfielder, is amazing. I keep up my position that she is a quiet heroine of the Dutch success. Her importance for the team was second to none. Probably not many people noticed it, but the tight and well-functioning center of the field is her great merit.Without subtracting Spitse or Groenen, because thanks to their cooperation, the Dutch, two years ago and a few weeks ago, achieved such great success. But Danielle is a player, who had huge impact on Dutch's achievement. If you don't believe me, just youtube her (as she sometimes does herself) or watch one of Arsenal's or Netherland's game and focus only on her. You will see that Van De Donk always makes an awesome work, she is a key player. Still a bit underrated. Hopefully after reading my article you'll appreciate her game. She deserves all the recognision. Many thanks to her, she keeps inspiring me every day, hopefully she'll inspire many people. Football is a beautiful game. Football needs players who inspires and encourages people to get better and better every day.





A note from the author

I'm extremely happy that I can publish my articles here, but I want to leave the name of my own blog here because this is where I always publish them first: usualunusualmotivation.sport.blog