Roda JC can dream of the Eredivisie again: ‘The club was dead and buried’ | Football

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Roda JC is undergoing a resurrection and has the prospect of direct promotion to the Eredivisie. Tonight the number two of the First Division will meet Jong PSV. “People are proud to be Roda supporters again,” says trainer Bas Sibum.

De bravoure van verdediger Matisse Didden illustreert de nieuwe status van het zo lang kwakkelende Roda JC. “We zitten in een flow en gaan de andere ploegen afslachten”, zei hij tien dagen geleden na de 3-1-overwinning op NAC Breda.

De club uit Kerkrade heeft zichzelf eindelijk hervonden. Na jaren van onrust op bestuurlijk niveau en de vijftiende plaats van vorig seizoen, droomt Roda nu als nummer twee van de Eerste Divisie van een terugkeer naar de Eredivisie. Hoe anders was het sentiment afgelopen zomer, zegt trainer Sibum.

Hij kwam vorig jaar over van FC Emmen en begon bij Roda JC aan zijn eerste klus als hoofdcoach. “Iedereen was lamgeslagen”, vertelt Sibum aan NU.nl. “Roda was al dood en begraven. Toen ik een rondje hardliep door Kerkrade keken mensen mij niet eens aan of zeiden ze dat ik nooit had moeten komen. De verwachtingen waren nihil.”

Ruim een half jaar later spat het optimisme van de tribunes in het Parkstad Stadion. Roda kreeg tot nu toe de minste doelpunten tegen in de Eerste Divisie, won de eerste periodetitel en doet nog volop mee om rechtstreekse promotie naar de Eredivisie.

Ook de supporters hebben hun ploeg weer omarmd, zegt Sibum. “Bij onze eerste thuiswedstrijd tegen Helmond Sport zaten er 6.500 mensen op de tribune. Dat is dit seizoen alleen maar gestegen.” Meer dan elfduizend toeschouwers zagen Roda JC van NAC winnen, iets van de oude grandeur is tastbaar in Kerkrade na een duistere periode.

Roda krijgt het bronzen kampioensschild uitgereikt voor het winnen van de eerste periode.

Dreaming of Champions League

Financially it was chaos at Roda for a long time, says club icon Eric van der Luer. “Salaries of 250,000 to 350,000 euros were paid. Agents were allowed to decide for themselves how long their player’s contract lasted,” says the former midfielder, who was involved in various positions at the club between 2015 and 2019. “Roda could not function without an external investor.”

Until 2006, Roda had a sugar daddy in Arnold ‘Nol’ Hendriks and later Frits Schrouff did the honors. But in 2017 he wanted to get rid of his shares. The decline started when Alexey Korotayev became co-owner. He was clear in his presentation. “My ambition is to play in the Champions League with Roda within five years.”

Former top striker Nicolas Anelka was going to help the Russian investor with this. Five years later, Roda JC did not play in European theaters such as Old Trafford or Camp Nou, but the ‘Koempels’ traveled in the First Division to Wijdewormer and Velsen-Zuid. In the meantime, Korotaev was busy with a criminal case in Dubai due to a bad check.

Aleksej Korotajev bij zijn presentatie. Oud-investeerder Frits Schrouff en Nicolas Anelka schudden elkaar de hand.

‘It was a mess at the club’

In 2019, the Mexican Mauricio García de la Vega came to Kerkrade. Van der Luer quickly anticipated problems. “He was a strange man, who I didn’t trust at all. Everyone in the club was afraid of losing their job, but no one listened. You could wait for things to go wrong.”

In September 2019, De la Vega was chased out of the stadium by angry supporters. The Phoenix group, consisting of various entrepreneurs from the region, then had to help the club out. The municipality also helped by canceling debts.

Sibum, who played for Roda in the 2007/2008 season, also experienced these troubles. “It was a mess here. It was very unpleasant for everyone, so I wanted to know what the club was doing before I started. That conversation reassured me. I could start building something.”

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Bas Sibum is met Roda bezig aan een sterk seizoen in de Keuken Kampioen Divisie.

‘Players should not have an ego’

That was desperately needed after Roda JC finished at the bottom of the First Division last season. Sibum lost its two top scorers: Dylan Vente left for Hibernian and Bryan Limbombe now plays for Heracles Almelo. “I knew that in advance. I was told that transferable boys could be recruited.”

The Roda trainer had to start from scratch. “There had been a bad season, so I had to convince the selection of my plans. We mainly looked at the characters. The players had to be willing to put themselves aside for the club. We are now seeing the results of this.”

Huub Stevens worked with Sibum as a trainer and sees Sibum’s hand in Roda’s attacking playing style. “He ensures a good organization,” says the seventy-year-old Limburger, who experienced the club’s glory period in the 1990s. “Bas was a midfielder with insight who always looked for the free man. I now also see that at Roda.”

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Huub Stevens werd als trainer tweede met Roda in de Eredivisie in het seizoen 1994/1995.

‘This club must sparkle again at the highest level’

According to Stevens, the reconstruction is also thanks to general manager Jordens Peters and technical manager Robbie Servais. Stevens: “There is a good transfer policy. Roda JC has attracted young players and a real team has been forged.”

The foundation has thus been laid for a possible return to the Eredivisie. “This club can sparkle,” says coach Sibum. “It would be nice to see that again at the highest level next season.” Van der Luer’s comment: “Investments will have to be made again, but the club is now more stable than before.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Roda dream Eredivisie club dead buried Football

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