It was almost a second nature for him to play football. Stefan De Vrij started running and kicking the ball almost at the same time. Born in a town of 5,000 souls in southern Holland, he enthusiastically supported the Rotterdam team Feyenoord, where he began his pro career that would lead him to wear the national team's jersey. Then he landed in Italy, first at Lazio and now at Inter Milan.
How did your fondness for football come about?
I think it was a natural thing. I was really very young, maybe two or three years old, I saw a ball and I started kicking it around. I haven't stopped since. I started playing in an amateur team called Vv Spirit, then at the age of ten I attended the Feyenoord talent day and I got signed up. I started as a midfielder but my coaches thought I was more suited to be a central defender.
Was it your favourite team, too?
Yes, as a child I always supported Feyenoord and playing with them was a dream come true, the dream of all young Feyenoord fans.
Did you ever ask the major team players for autographs?
Yes, sure. Lots of them. When I was little, there were two Feyenoord players, Dudek and Smolarek, who lived near me. Practically every week I would go and wait for them in the street near their home to ask for their autographs. And every time, I was so excited.
Did you watch matches at the stadium?
Yes, with my father, we went together to see the Feyenoord matches, but we didn't follow the away games, only the home ones.
What is the most memorable game?
Actually, there are two games I will never forget. The first was the Italy-Holland semi-final at the 2000 European Championships and then there was the Feyenoord-Dortmund UEFA Cup final in 2002. The first match was the one that would have allowed us Dutch to play the final right in Rotterdam. At the end, with the score still nil-nil and Italy with a man down, it all came down to the penalty shots. I was so nervous that during the penalty shots I went out on the street with a football not to watch. Stam, De Boer and Bosvelt missed. The UEFA Cup final, on the other hand, ended three-to-two for Feyenoord. It was played in Rotterdam and my team won with a one-two scored by Pierre Van Hooijdonk and a goal by Tomasson. As a fan, it was an amazing joy.