Clasie and Maher: from foreign adventures and Orange to return to the Eredivisie



Jordy Clasie (AZ) and Adam Maher (FC Utrecht) will face each other with their clubs in Alkmaar this afternoon at 12.15 pm. Two midfielders who are important to their club this season, with a football career that has the necessary similarities.

In the run-up to the Eredivisie game between AZ and FC Utrecht, Clasie and Maher are presented with four positions.

Both players started their professional careers in 2010. Clasie was with Feyenoord, where he was loaned out to Excelsior for the first season and then matured in De Kuip. Maher at AZ, where he became a sensation after his debut in a Europa League match with Bate Borisov in which he scored immediately.

Both players also had the best period of their career in their early years. Maher caused a furore at AZ, made his debut with the Dutch national team and made the switch to Eindhoven in 2013 – after the necessary tug-of-war between Ajax and PSV.

Clasie was a permanent fixture at Feyenoord for four seasons, experienced the 2014 World Cup with the Orange squad and earned a transfer to Southampton a year later.

Better now than then?

He’s not as good as then, admits 30-year-old Clasie. “I think my best period was in the years 2013 to 2015. Then I was also very consistent. At the moment I am doing very well in the last three games, and so is the team. I have confidence in myself and I hope that I can maintain this level again over a longer period of time.”

Maher, two years younger, cannot say whether he is better now than he was then. “In the past I played at AZ at 10, when I came back to AZ I went to a controlling position. You can’t compare yourself with the player from then. I have grown, older and more mature and I know what goes into a match is requested.”

Orange

Both players made their debut in 2012 with the Orange squad. Clasie came to seventeen caps, Maher got stuck at five. “You can see my last was in 2016, five years ago,” says Clasie. “I am very proud to have been able to represent my country. Those were fantastic times.”

The midfielders do not immediately dream about a return. “I’m focusing on AZ, it’s not realistic at the moment,” said Clasie. And Maher says: “You would always want to, but you have to perform at your club and then the national coach has to decide. It’s going well now, I want to continue that line and then I’ll see what the future brings.”

After their years in the Dutch top, both players made a transfer abroad: Clasie moved to Southampton in 2015, Maher started working at the Turkish Osmanlispor a year later. The foreign adventure was not a resounding success for both of them, but it was a learning experience.

Other environment

“I learned a lot there,” says Maher, who played 24 matches in one season in Ankara. “A different culture, a different environment, football is different there. It makes you more mature in the end.”

Clasie had a reasonable first season at Southampton, but after the departure of trainer Ronald Koeman it became less and a rental period at Club Brugge followed. “I have grown as a person and a footballer, but I have also known many lesser sides. Not playing, sitting in the stands, even after the transfer to Bruges I didn’t get to play much.”

Three years ago, both players returned to the Netherlands. Maher came to FC Utrecht in 2019 via FC Twente and his former club AZ, where he is a fixed value in midfield. Clasie signed a contract with AZ, as Maher’s successor, and got off to a more difficult start, partly due to injuries. But this season he seems to have found his niche.

Future

What will the future bring for both gentlemen? Maher extended his contract with FC Utrecht on Friday until mid-2023, but eventually dreams of a foreign adventure. “That is the intention. You do your best and see what comes your way. A warm country? It depends on the overall picture and whether you are going to play or not.”

Clasie does not see himself going on an adventure at the end of his contract. “I still have a contract for about three years, so I’ll be 33. I’m happy here and just focus on this. Let’s see what my career will bring in a few years.”