Our 32-year-old goalkeeper was in the Netherlands squad that got the better of England at Wembley in an international friendly back in March – a game in which Vincent hit the target from the penalty spot.
Not only that, Michel has also heard great things about the striker from his peers in Holland and, understandably, he was among the first to welcome Vincent to Hotspur Way after he completed his move from AZ Alkmaar yesterday.
We caught up with the former Utrecht and Swansea City stopper to find out about his prior knowledge of our new recruit and also to get his take on Hugo Lloris’ run to the Final of Euro 2016, along with an update on the first couple of weeks of pre-season training…
As a fellow Dutch international, what can you tell us about Vincent Janssen?
Michel: “Last time I was with the national team he was there so I’ve seen a bit of him in person, but I’d also heard before from other guys in Holland about him. Obviously when you score 27 goals in the Dutch Eredivisie you’re a good player. Vincent is someone who has improved himself every year and that says something about his potential and his mentality. He’s shown already that his mentality is right and that’s very important, especially with the way we work here. As a young, talented player I think he will fit straight into our philosophy.”
Tell us about the way he operates up front…
Michel: “He obviously knows where the goal is, he can shoot very well with both feet, he’s very strong with a good shot and he has an amazing work ethic. He’s a striker who can play with his back to goal, too. We’re talking about a young, hungry, talented Dutch international who has scored a lot of times already so I think he’s a very good signing.”
Tell us about his reputation in the wider football community back in Holland…
Michel: “It's great, especially when you consider that he only came up from the second division a year ago. Everybody knew that he had been playing well but perhaps they didn’t expect him to do as well as he has done over the last few months. That says a lot about him, though. A former team-mate of mine played with him when he was in the Dutch second division and he’d already said to me that Vincent is a very talented player. People could see his potential even at that stage. Even before he was in the national team he was in the Holland Under-21s set-up and he did well with his goalscoring there as well. I hope he can keep growing and I think with his mentality and the group that we have here, we can take him to the next level again. That will be to the advantage of everyone here.”
Let’s move on to a few other matters – did you watch any of the lads in action at Euro 2016 over the summer?
Michel: “Yes, definitely. Even though I was on holiday at the time, football is everywhere and I still supported all the boys. I followed Wales, England, France, Belgium and Austria – all the teams with our players in. It was good to see the lads involved. Obviously it was disappointing for England and Austria in the end but Wales were amazing. I played in Wales for three years with Swansea so with Ben Davies doing well, Ashley Williams too, I was very proud of those guys. Belgium went out in the last eight but also for them it was a great experience and something that they can take forward with them. And then there’s Hugo – I feel for him after losing the Final but that’s also a learning process.”
Have you spoken to Hugo about the Final?
Michel: “I spoke to him a few hours before the game to wish him all the best but I know that losing in moments like that is the worst feeling. To be fair to him he’s stayed positive and he’s shown professionalism as always. Of course, he’s very disappointed but on the other hand France had their chances and you need to score to win. It was so close but so far away for them, in their home country as well, so obviously it was disappointing for Hugo but, again, he will learn from it. For me, he was the best goalkeeper at the tournament – very steady, very safe, very sound. He had an amazing season last year so I hoped he could win it to crown his own campaign but it didn’t work out that way. As we all know, that’s football.”
Closer to home, how has pre-season been going for the lads at Hotspur Way?
Michel: “It’s hard but in the last few years we’ve learned the way to work and I think it suits us well. We showed last season what we’re capable of because of the way we operate – we were very fit throughout the whole season and that’s very important when you play so many games, as we will be doing again this year with the Champions League. It’s been tough, enjoyable too, but you get used to it. This is something that is part of being here at the club and the philosophy of how we work.”
Do you get the feeling that we’re setting ourselves up to have another memorable season?
Michel: “Yes, that’s what we’re looking for. Obviously not everyone is back yet because of the internationals but in the next few weeks we’ll be working to improve ourselves again. The way we want to play is there but we want to expand that and now Vincent and Victor Wanyama are here, they need to get used to the way we do things as well so this period is going to be good for us. We’re only getting stronger and in the next few weeks you’ll see that we’re very hungry, strong and ready to compete.”