The Dutch Eredivisie has always been a good grooming ground for young footballers, and there has never been a shortage of quality.
Youngster Derrick Luckassen is among the names that lit up the stage in the just-ended season, a goal in a 2-0 defeat of Excelsior in March unarguably among his best moments of 2015-16.
Prince Narkortu Teye caught up with the 20-year-old, who made 21 league appearances for AZ Alkmaar last campaign, as he sheds light on what has been a ‘happy’ season and his future aspirations.
On a personal note, how would you rate your season?
I played more matches, so that was better. I think I also played better than the season before.
But I’m still not happy because I want to play more. I know I can do much better because I trust in myself and I believe I can be a very good player.
How do you assess AZ’s performance?
It think it was a very good season for the club. Before last season, we came third, and now fourth. It’s very good for the club because we will be playing in the Europa League. Everybody is happy.
With the recent fourth finish as against third the season earlier, do you think AZ retrogressed in one way or the other?
I don’t think so, because Feyenoord [who came third this time around] have a very good team, with players like [Eljero] Elia. We also played with many players from the youth side. So fourth place is great for us. We have not fallen back.
How was the experience playing in the Europa League for the first time with AZ last season?
It’s nice to play in the Europa League, but I don’t know if I will play again next season. Last year, I played all but one match. Playing in the Europa League helps your career because you grow to become a better player. Last year, for me as a young boy, was my first time. It’s a good competition.
Could the lure of playing in the Europa League again influence you to stay with AZ for another season?
I don’t think so. I want to play in every game next season, but the lure will not make me stay.
AZ qualified to the group stage but ended bottom on the table behind Athletic Bilbao, Augsburg and Partizan Belgrade. How disappointing was that?
It was very disappointing. But we played very good matches, only that we could not score. We played the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Partizan, and these are teams with more experience in the competition. We could not score much, and I think that was the problem. Next season, we have to first make it to the group stage because we have to play two matchesto get there. Then we can think about progressing to the next round.
You have been linked to a host of clubs, both home and abroad. What does the future hold?
I don’t know. Next season, I want to play every match and develop. But I don’t think I will stay at AZ.
Among the teams reported to be lurking around for your signature are PSV. Would you fancy a move to Eindhoven?
You can’t say no if PSV want you because they are a very good team, and they will also be playing in the Champions League.
You are currently a member of the Netherlands u-23 side, but still remain eligible to play for Ghana through your parents. Are we likely to see you make a U-turn to the country of your parents?
For now, I have not thought of it because Ghana have not called me yet, and I’m playing for the Dutch national under-23 team. If either Ghana or the Netherlands call me for the senior side, then I will think about it. But for now, I’m happy with the under-23s of the Netherlands because the trainer has trust in me. I am playing and I’m happy there.
What do you make of the English Premier League, and like many others, do you hope to play in England some day?
For sure, because England has one of the best leagues. I like the teams too – like Chelsea. They have great teams. But I don’t think I’m playing next season in England. You elder brother Kevin Luckassen has struggled for playing time with Czech side
Slovan Liberec. What do you make of his situation?
He had many injuries, going in and out of action. The coach didn’t name him in the starting XI for every game, but I think he did well whenever he played, sometimes scoring. That was good but he has to play more, and be free of injuries.
Any last words for your fans ahead of next season?
It will be an important season for me to show myself. I have now played two seasons in the highest division of Holland. I want to let them see that I’m one of the best defenders in the Netherlands, and I think I can do that.
By Prince Narkortu Teye/Goal