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First team

POTS Top 5: Danjuma on ambition, religion & Michael Jordan

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

In a special interview from before the start of the season, supporters' Player of the Year Arnaut Danjuma mapped out his plans for the year ahead and plenty more besides.

Ahead of the big 20/21 kick-off, the Dutchman had made just 15 appearances after an injury-hit first season with the Cherries - but he exploded in his sophomore season at Vitality Stadium.

Top scoring with 17 goals and a regular in the player and goal of the month nominations, Danjuma won the supporters' vote to be named Player of the Year earlier this month.

In the past few days we have published the MATCHDAY programme interviews with the top five players in the voting, coming from editions across the season.

Danjuma himself got the ball rolling back in September as he appeared on the front cover for the season opener against Blackburn - a 3-2 home success the 24-year-old netted the winner in.

Ahead of all that we now know was to come, Danjuma spoke exclusively to MATCHDAY...

HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARISE YOUR FIRST 12 MONTHS AT THE CLUB?

It’s been a roller coaster and there have been a lot of pros and cons, a lot of ups and downs.

I thought we started the season well so it was a positive feeling for me. Coming here was the highlight of my career so, at the beginning, I was buzzing.

But I had two injuries which were really frustrating and they set me back.

As the season went on and with how it finished, I’m not looking back on a particularly good season which is why I want the new season to be a memorable one.

WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL AMBITIONS FOR THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?

I just want to show the best of my capabilities and prove myself for the club and the team. It’s no secret our main goal is to get back to the Premier League.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP?

It’s a highly respected competition. After the top five leagues in Europe, I think the Championship is next. We need to be realistic, it’s not the Premier League. I’ve watched a couple of games so I know what it’s like but I wouldn’t say I know it well.

It’s a different way of football but with the quality and the staff we have, I think a lot is possible in the Championship.

We will need to be on it from day one because you saw what happened last season when West Brom got promoted in the final game. Every point is so important, as we found last season.

WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO BRING TO THE TEAM THIS SEASON?

I’m a fairly confident player. I know my qualities and my capabilities. I’m looking to score goals, assist goals and to win games. I want to help the team achieve what we all want which is getting back to the Premier League.

WHAT WAS BEHIND YOUR GOAL CELEBRATION AGAINST BENFICA WHEN YOU RUBBED YOUR HANDS DOWN YOUR FACE?

I’m a Muslim so after a goal, it’s a little prayer. I put my hands together and say “Alhamdulillah” which is Arabic for “thank God”.

It’s more a prayer than a celebration and to be thankful for the goal and, hopefully, move on to the next one.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES AND PASTTIMES?

I try to do a lot to stay busy. I read books and watch lectures and debates, mostly on religion.

I don’t want to come home after training every day and just sit on the sofa. I want to keep my mind busy and develop and evolve.

I watched a debate on YouTube recently between an atheist and a Muslim from Oxford University. I like to hear different arguments to see how I can learn.

I also read books about people who inspire me like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I try to keep busy off the pitch as well.

EXPLAIN YOUR FULL NAME – ARNAUT DANJUMA ADAM GROENEVELD

It’s very simple.

Arnaut is my first name and Danjuma is also my first name but it’s my Nigerian name. Adam is my Muslim name and Groeneveld is my surname.

I’ve read so many different things in the news about what’s behind my name and none of it is true!

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLAYING IN ENGLAND AND BELGIUM AND HOLLAND?

That’s easy. In my opinion, the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world, if not the best. As a youngster, everyone aspires to play in the Premier League.

The intensity is very high and most of the teams play good football. Every week, there is a top game and that’s what attracted me to the Premier League. I want to perform at the highest level and show what I’m capable of.

WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO?

Everything. African, English grime, Dutch, old school. Everything.

IF YOU COULD SWAP PLACES WITH ANOTHER SPORTSPERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE?

That’s a tough one. It would be between Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson.

For me, Tyson is the top of the tree with his personality and winning mentality. He has an aura about him and he wins on will. If he wants it, he makes it happen. He removes all doubts by action.

Ali always tries to give back to the community. He helps where needed and I’m trying to be the type of guy who does that as well. I’ve always been inspired by him.

Jordan is definitely a big influence on me. He’s just different in one word. And people who are different in the right way make the top. He had a vision and everything else should go out of the way for him to achieve his goal, he was always on a mission. He was one of those who could turn it on and off – and he never turned it off.

DOES YOUR RELIGION IMPACT ON YOUR PREPARATION FOR MATCHES?

Not really. If anything, I would say Ramadan because you fast for a month. But then again, and I know it might sound weird, for me, it’s always a period that makes me stronger instead of less strong.

People always think it weakens you, but it makes my body stronger. It’s the best period of the season when I feel the fittest and the strongest. Ramadan isn’t a burden to me and it doesn’t affect my preparation for a game.

WHAT IS THE MOST BIZARRE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE?

You’re asking me something there because there have been a lot of bizarre things in my life!

I think it was realising the difference between what people had in life. When I was young, it took me a long time to get it straight in my head that the world was not equal. I really struggled with the idea of why different people had certain things and I didn’t. For me, that was a very bizarre thing.

WHAT DO YOUR FAMILY DO?

Cees, my father, is retired. He worked in dredging.

My sister Lisette has just finished a PHD at university in England and my brother Reinier is at university in Utrecht.

My little sister Itunu has just started secondary school and is starting to get addicted to watching our games.

My mother Hauwa works in a retail shop and is a full-time mother as well. She lives in Reading with my little sister.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE TOWN OF BOURNEMOUTH?

I like it but everyone in England likes it! It’s the place to be. It’s on the coast, the weather is lovely most of the time and there are some nice places to eat. I enjoy living here.

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