Supporter Sunday: AZ fan from SwedenPublished on 28 maart 21, 09:17
ALKMAAR- For a section on our website called Supporter Sunday, we speak with AZ fans from all around the world. In this edition: Andreas Jalstrand (38) from Uppsala, Sweden. “After that game, Louis van Gaal served me bitterballs.”
The distance between his hometown of Uppsala and the AFAS Stadium in Alkmaar is about 1.230 kilometres (764 miles). Visiting a home game would take him seventeen hours by car.
The distance between Uppsala and Alkmaar
Andreas first came into contact with AZ over fifteen years ago, in quite a special manner. “In 2005 I met someone who worked at AZ. We kept in touch and my interest in the club and players grew. This person also arranged for me and my wife to come visit a home game for the first time. So in January 2006, we went to AZ - FC Groningen, in the old stadium ‘de Hout’. I’ve been an AZ fan ever since.”
“For that game I was staying at the same hotel as newly transferred Rogier Molhoek. Before the game, I met him during breakfast,” remembers Andreas. “After the game Louis van Gaal went round with the well-known Dutch snack bitterballs and I met Stein Huysegems and his wife. Huysegems had always been one of my favourite players, so my first impression of AZ was a great one.”
In the same year Andreas visited another game, in the then DSB Stadium. “I was at the opening game of the new DSB Stadium, against Arsenal. It was a birthday present to myself, because I’ve been a fan of the Gunners from childhood and now I had the chance to see my two favourite clubs play each other. Recently I even learned that the club colours of AZ are inspired by the colours of Arsenal. How cool is that? Unfortunately my support that day wasn’t enough for AZ, but I enjoyed every minute of it."
Asked about his most memorable game, Andreas doesn’t have to think long. “That has to be AZ - sc Heerenveen in 2009. I was there, together with my wife. To celebrate the championship with all the fans was really indescribable. To this day, I keep the t-shirt that was handed out to every fan in the stadium. I had it signed by my all-time favourite player: Stijn Schaars.” When Andreas arrived in Alkmaar that day, he got an unpleasant surprise. “What I didn’t now was that the red card Schaars received against Ajax two weeks prior meant he was suspended for this match. But despite him not playing, I did see him lift the trophy. That was awesome as well.”
The players make a lap of honour after they were crowned champions moments before
Two years after Andreas missed out on seeing his favourite player play, he got some consolation. “When the Dutch national squad was playing Sweden in 2011, I went to the airport to meet Stijn. He signed my custom football boots. It made up for 2009 at least a bit.”
One of Our Own
“Of the current team, Teun Koopmeiners is my favourite player. He is ‘One of Our Own’ and a real leader. He’s also got a great free-kick, is regularly important with his penalties and he is left-footed. I am left-footed myself, so maybe that is where the soft spot comes from.” Other players from the academy can also count on his approval. “The academy is something I greatly appreciate about AZ. All the young players coming through and fitting into the first team without problems is fantastic to see.”
His opinion about fellow Swede Jesper Karlsson is clear. “I’ve seen him in the Swedish competition first and in the Eredivisie now, and I think the national coach of Sweden can’t pass him anymore. His call up for the national team is fully deserved.”
To watch AZ live Andreas has invested substantially. “I used to watch AZ on livestreams on gambling websites, but the drawback is that it has no commentary. Nowadays, I have a subscription to the Dutch ESPN, which makes watching games a lot easier and more fun. Besides watching games I spend a lot of time following AZ on social media and the website. I especially enjoy the sections Feiten & Cijfers (Facts & Figures), Wie Wat Waar (Who What Where) and Supporter Sunday. To now be part of that myself is really cool.” That most of these articles are in Dutch doesn’t bother Andreas. “I’ve come to understand the language quite well in the past years, so I can read most of it.”
Apart from being an AZ fan, Andreas considers himself a little bit of a scout as well. “During my first years of being a fan, I made a list of interesting Swedish players, which I gave to my acquaintance at AZ. The first name on that list was Pontus Wernbloom. He later went to AZ and I’m not saying that this happened because of me, but I like to think I had a small part in the transfer.”
“This year, I wanted to visit another game,” tells the 38-year-old Swede. "I had already booked the flight and the hotel and bought the ticket for AZ - Vitesse, but then the pandemic came. I’m hoping we can all do our best to solve this, so that we can go to the stadium again as soon as possible.”
Andreas with Stijn Schaars in 2011
Read earlier editions of Supporter Sunday here.
Text: Bas Beerepoot / AZ Media
Pictures: Andreas Jalstrand