Post & In sat down with ex-Southampton central defender Jos Hooiveld to discuss his highly successful debut campaign for the Saints. Joining initially on loan from Celtic in summer 2011, the move was soon made permanent, with the towering Dutch defender quick to become a fan favourite among the St Mary’s faithful.
The club had just been promoted from League One when Hooiveld agreed to join Southampton, and would finish the season in second place, meaning that they secured back-to-back promotions to seal a return to the Premier League after a seven year absence.
Hooiveld was keen to discuss the 2011/12 season, which he described as a “great year”.
This is a season in the life of Jos Hooiveld.
Post & In (P&I): “You joined Southampton on loan from Celtic initially, before making the move permanent a few months later. What was it that attracted you to the club?”
Jos Hooiveld (JH): ” Well, when I played at AIK, in Sweden, there was interest. I checked them (Southampton) and I saw that they were in League One, but they were totally at the bottom also with minus points so I was thinking ‘ooof what happened there’, you know. So, they were on my radar but Celtic picked me up before. I didn’t have a great spell there and then Southampton came again. Because I knew already about the club, and I had looked into it, and I had a good chat with Nicola Cortese, I decided that now it’s a good thing to try.”
P&I: “Were the club aiming for promotion that season, or were the ambitions a bit lower than that?”
JH: “Yeah, yeah, they were talking about it directly. They were talking about ‘the Southampton way’, and they wanted to get up and get to the Premier League. It was a lot of ambition and I really liked the story, so I was thinking ‘if I could be part of this it would be something amazing’. Then I came, firstly on loan, yeah, which didn’t last for long…I think three months. Then I scored against West Ham and they started chanting ‘sign him up’ (laughs).”
P&I: “What was Nigel Adkins like to play under?”
JH: “Nigel Adkins was really nice. Yeah, he was a good guy, a really good guy. He was calm, sweet, took really good care of you, of all the players. He was calm, but he could also be quite harsh with decision making and that kind of stuff. The all over feeling was that he was managing the players quite well and was just a good guy.”
P&I: “He was obviously quite a calm manager, but could he lose his temper if he needed to?”
JH: “Umm…yeah he could, he could. He would never get, like, really angry, but more feisty I would say.
P&I: “How much did you enjoy playing in that team?”
JH: “Yeah, it was great. It was a great team, you know. We had Adam Lallana, Jose Fonte, Morgan Schneiderlin, who was in and out because of Dean Hammond, Rickie Lambert. But also, we became friends. I still have a lot of contact with people like Kelvin Davis, Dan Harding, Richard Chaplow, everybody that was there…we’re still in touch and that’s really nice. I hope, maybe, this year it will be the tenth anniversary and we will be able to go around with everybody. That would be nice.”
P&I: “You mention some of the players there, was your defensive partnership with Jose Fonte something that came easily?”
JH: “Yeah. I remember that Fonte had a great season the year before in League One and that year that we went up he was also directly on his game. Yeah it was quite nice to have him next to me. I was more the one that was a little bit wild in the head and he was more the one that would say ‘okay, we have to defend, we have to defend’. So it was quite a good balance I think. If I look back, I think it is good to have a Portuguese centre half and a Dutch guy because the Dutch guy will want to be the one to do all sorts of other things and the Portuguese guy is the one that puts everything in concrete and says ‘look we are not going to do anything more than defend’. So, you’ve got a good balance, and if I look at the other Dutch guys he’s played with it always went well. I taught him a little bit of the Dutch things and he taught me the Portuguese way.”
P&I: “As we’ve referred to, there were obviously so many talented players in that side, the likes of Lallana, Lambert, Schneiderlin, Fonte. Who would you say was the best player in that squad at the time?”
JH: “Ah, I think Lallana at that moment was different class. He was the one that everyday in training he was there, he always turned up. He was one of my all-time favourites I would say. Especially on the ball; he would always want it. He had a little bit of this anger in him as well which was not nice to play against. He could be a little bit of a prick, but there was also good, and all the guys could temper him a little bit in training. But, yeah, he was different class when he had the ball. With his touch, with his passes, with finding pockets of space. Then of course we had Rickie (Lambert) who was banging goals in for fun. Those two were the ones that were standing out, but you could see that Morgan (Schneiderlin) could make steps when he got a lot of game time.”
P&I: “For yourself and for the team it was obviously a very successful season with lots of highs. As well as your defensive work, you managed to score eight goals, which is pretty impressive for a centre back. There was that strange pattern where you always seemed to score in midweek games…”
JH: “Yeah (laughs)…Tuesday nights, yeah, under the lights. It was a weird one, you know. Maybe, if you look back on it, you had training in the morning and you would do some corners so you were already focussing more on scoring goals and not training the defensive part. I always felt good and I had a sleep always in the afternoon. When I woke up I always felt fit and good and I had a good rhythm. My body felt good and I always had a feeling that I could bang one in.”
P&I: “Obviously, scoring all those goals and the promotion must have been great, but what were your personal highlights? Is there anything in particular that really stands out?”
JH: “The Coventry game (on the final day of the season), scoring the third one. It was 2-0 and I scored the third one and it was just nice, everybody knew at that moment that we had gone up. In the end it was comfortable, but in the beginning it wasn’t because we were under pressure for the first part of the game. I think Fonte scored, Billy Sharp scored, and then I scored.”
P&I: “So, on the flip side of that, were there any low points for you personally, or for the team that season?”
JH: “Ummm…not really, no. No, I can’t think of anything.”
P&I: “It was a very positive season so that’s understandable. I imagine the celebrations after that Coventry win were pretty special. What do you remember of that day, and also of that night?”
JH: “The night after was brilliant. We went to the Four Seasons hotel and we had a good party over there. That was different class. After that, I remember that of course it’s the end of the season so you kind of want to do things but everyone was sort of already thinking about holidays, and their families would want them to get out, so it was a little bit like you were waiting for what was going to happen next. Then we went to Marbella with everyone, that was really nice. Then after that it was holiday, and of course when you have foreign players, people go home. it was nice but also you did sort of think ‘ok, this is it? Ok…yeah, this is it’. Then next year it’s the Premier League and lets see how we can manage there. So, it kind of went really quickly, the celebrations, then it’s replaced by preparations.”
P&I: “Did you almost want the celebrations to last a bit longer then?”
JH: “Yeah, kind of. I wanted everyone together, and doing things together, and doing more with the fans also. I would have liked like a ceremony or something, like that kind of thing, that would have been nice. Maybe going to West Quay and celebrating or something, but it was really quickly back to normal.”
P&I: “That’s all the questions we had, thank you so much for your time and all the best!”
JH: “No worries. Thank you!”
Since retiring in 2018, Jos has started his own business called Scorelit. This is an app that puts players in contact with professionals to get advice and make professional knowledge accessible. For example, if you were to want advice on a free kick, you could upload a video to the app and when James Ward-Prowse is on it he could look at the video and offer advice on how to improve your technique. If you’d like to check this out then it can be found at http://www.scorelit.com.