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First team

Action man Nathan set for century duty

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Arguably the most cultured central defender to play for AFC Bournemouth, Nathan Ake has an eclectic mix of tastes off the pitch.

As well as being multilingual, Ake used to play the guitar, is planning to take piano lessons, is a decent tennis player, loves walking his dog…and watches Love Island!

Ahead of making his 100th appearance for the Cherries since signing permanently in 2017, Ake sat down with afcb.co.uk to talk through his leisure pursuits.

And starting with the most topical, the Netherlands international said: “Yes, I watch Love Island! A couple of years ago, my girlfriend was watching it on holiday and I asked her why she was watching it.

“At one point, I was doing something else and was watching it out of the corner of my eye and thought it was quite good.

“Since then, we’ve watched it together every night. It’s just a nice, chilled programme and you don’t have to think too much about other stuff.”

Ake, who started playing football for the same amateur club as his older brother Cedric when he was four, revealed his favourite hobby was spending time with Mellow, his four-year-old Pomeranian.

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With the boss🐶🔥

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He said: “Getting him was one of the best things I have ever done. When I was young, I was never really into dogs.

“My family didn’t have one, we only had hamsters so it was quite a shock to them when I got him. To be honest, I can’t see my life without a dog now.

“When you have a dog, I think you go out more. We take him to places like Hengistbury Head and into the New Forest.

“If you have a bad game or a bad result, you go home and the dog is always happy. They have their own character, they are always buzzing to see you and jump on you. I don’t know what I would do without a dog now.”

Ake, who joined the Chelsea academy from Feyenoord when he was 16, excelled at most sports at school having been raised in a small town near The Hague.

“I was in to all sports at school, especially tennis,” he added. “We had a school tennis programme so, two or three times a week, we would train.

“I trained with the coach from the older age group because he said I could hit the ball a bit harder than the kids my age!

“At some point, I had to focus on football because it was progressing so I let tennis go.

“It was always going to be football but I liked to do other sports as well. I was physically good so I could play anything but I always knew football would be the sport for me.

“We play a bit of tennis here in the summer. A few of the lads are good, Dan Gosling, Adam Smith, Brad Smith and Ryan Fraser. When I play, it comes back.”

With Dutch, obviously, being his first language, Ake can also speak English and French, and, together with his partner Kaylee, is having lessons in Spanish.

He said: “Education is important in Holland. When I went to Feyenoord, they had a proper school for sportspeople. It was programmed so you could go training after school.  

“When I went to Chelsea, I was still 16 so my schooling wasn’t finished. I tried to combine it with my football and managed it in the first year because there was a teacher who helped me.

“I passed the first three tests but couldn’t continue the following year because she couldn’t teach some of the subjects.

“In Holland, you learn English very quickly. It’s one of the main subjects.

“My father is from Ivory Coast so my parents speak French, as does my brother.

“We always used to go to France on holiday and I was quite scared to try the language so, most of the time, I let my brother speak for me. His French is super-good and mine is so-so.

“Over the past few years, I’ve picked it up again because Lys (Mousset) and Benik (Afobe) both spoke French. I can survive in French but I’m not 100 per cent.

“I’m having lessons in Spanish. Me and my girlfriend wanted to speak Spanish because we like to go there on holiday.

“And with Diego (Rico) and Jeff (Lerma) coming in, I thought why not?

“It’s going well. It’s just the dedication to practice every day can be hard. We have one lesson a week.”

Asked whether cooking was among his hobbies, Ake replied: “Cooking? No, never!

“I used to play the guitar when I was younger. Me and my best friend did it for a few years. I was okay but I’ve forgotten it now, it was a long time ago.

“It was good to play an instrument, I liked it. I want to learn the piano. I hear piano music and think I would love to be able to play it. Maybe one day I will start.

“Your focus is on football most of the time so it’s nice to get your head away from it and to try to do other stuff.”

Ake is due to bring up his century against Aston Villa, the 24-year-old having made 95 of his 99 appearances as a permanent Cherries asset in the Premier League.

He said: “It has gone quickly but it’s nice and a good milestone.

“I was involved in every Premier League game in my first two seasons but missed five over the festive period with a hamstring injury which was something new.

“It was a new experience but I just got on with it. I had to make sure I tried to get back as quickly as possible.

“Confidence was a little low before we got the win against Brighton. We worked hard and got the reward. Hopefully, our confidence is higher now.

“It wasn’t the best start against Arsenal but we gave it a go in the second half and you could see we can make it difficult for any team. We have to make sure we start well against Aston Villa in what is a massive game.”

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