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Darren Sidoel On Ajax Past, Reading Ambitions And Indonesian Inspiration

The Dutchman opens up on his Indonesian heritage and ambitions for the future.

AFC Ajax v AS Roma - UEFA Youth League: Round of 16 Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Darren Sidoel, who joined from Ajax’s academy on a free transfer in mid-July, was Reading’s lowest profile arrival of the summer. The poor chap didn’t even get a Carabao can teaser from the club’s Twitter account when he came in. He’s continued to go relatively under the radar in the subsequent three months or so, featuring five times for the under-23s in their Premier League 2 campaign.

However, his development is being watched with keen interest by the people of Indonesia, where he traces his heritage back to. Although Sidoel was born and raised in the Netherlands - The Hague to be precise - he is half Indonesian through his father who comes from Wonosobo in Central Java.

Sidoel became aware of the link when, as he explained in an interview with Goal Indonesia, one of his Instagram posts was met with lots of Indonesians calling him The Son of Betawi.

“At first I didn’t understand what it meant and where it came from. But then I was told the nickname was made based on an Indonesian television series that had the name Sidoel.

”The lineage of my family is actually not from Jakarta, but from Wonosobo district on Java. I still have family there.”

The 20 year-old now wants to use his own career to help young aspiring Indonesian footballers.

“I continued to grow as a person and a footballer, which also made me realise that without the migration of my ancestors from Suriname to the Netherlands, maybe I would not have an opportunity like this.

“Hopefully I can inspire other children in Indonesia with a professional football career that I have now and become an example of education that being a professional player is not easy and requires capability.”

His career so far and ambitions at Reading

Sidoel also discussed his development so far, which started with ADO Den Haag before being furthered at Ajax’s famous academy. He praises the support from his own family - and the mentality they instilled in him - for its role in his success so far.

“My parents have supported me 100 percent since I wanted to play football. I joined the ADO Den Haag academy when I was young. From that moment on, they knew that a career as a professional footballer could be serious for me in the long term.

”They travelled far to watch me play both nationally and internationally. The most important thing besides support is that they always push me on the right path mentally.

“I’ve seen many colleagues fail. Some are more talented than me, but mentality, support and guidance from family are things that can determine success or failure when young.”

He goes on to talk about his years at Ajax, during which time he won the Dutch second tier with Jong Ajax. Sidoel talks highly of himself claims the club had lofty ambitions for him, but he was ultimately pleased to make the switch to Berkshire.

“In 2015 I signed my first professional contract at Ajax. At that time I was 17 years old and was the first player in my group to get a contract. They saw a lot of potential in me and I could feel the trust of everyone that I could become a great player. I even played with an older age group because of the developments I made.

“Ajax is a big club with lots of talented players. We had the chance to discuss the possibility of a contract extension at Ajax, but I felt that I lost the feeling of ‘right’.*

”While there were some clubs that were interested in me, Reading came with an interesting plan. When I visited them, I knew it would be the right club for my development.

“For now I am fully focused on my career at club level. I want to develop myself to a higher level, so I can become a major player in Reading. After I have established myself as an important player at Championship level, I want to play in the Premier League. It is one of the leagues, along with La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A, that I dream of playing football in.”

*I’m not sure what Sidoel means by ‘lost the feeling of right’, but that’s the best Google Translate comes up with (my Indonesian is a little rusty). Other translations of the phrase are ‘lost the feeling of genuine/correct/valid’.

You can read more about Darren Sidoel in our Town End feature where we asked some very knowledge Ajax fans about his style of play and chances of succeeding in England.

Although we translated Sidoel’s quotes from Goal using Google Translate, we adjusted some of the phrasing in a few places to make it read better. You can find the original pieces here and here.