Jos Hooiveld perhaps has more reason than most to look forward to Saturday’s visit of Ajax.
The towering defender says that it’s always special when teams come face to face with the Dutch giants, as they are a club that boast a catalogue of famous Academy graduates as well as having a collection of domestic and European honours to their name.
Last season, the Amsterdammers won the national title for the 31st time in Hooiveld’s homeland, and ahead of a showdown with Ajax Jos revealed that he is a fan of their manager, the Dutchman - Frank De Boer.
“He was one of my favourite players when I was younger but then I had a lot of favourites,” Hooiveld explained to saintsfc.co.uk
“They won the division last season and the season before so he (De Boer) has won two titles in a row now.
“He’s a good coach who knows what he wants, he knows the Ajax culture, and he’s conserved that there.”
Ajax return to St Mary’s this weekend three years on from their previous visit here, and Jos says there’s plenty of anticipation surrounding the game against the former European Champions.
“It’s always like that in England I think the fans are always happy when there’s a game. It doesn’t really matter who it is, but of course it’s nice to come up against a team with a huge history.
“I know Lasse Schone (Ajax midfielder) who’s just signed for them, but since I left Holland there has been a lot of changes to their side. They’ve also got a lot of good players from their youth team and Academy coming through too.”
The match is Saints’ first full 90 minute warm up of the summer at home, and Hooiveld hopes to build on the promising week’s work in France.
“It was a good workout and we played some good games,” Jos said of the training camp in Evian. “A lot of things are going the right way and there are still some things to improve on, but it was nice.
“We’re just coming to where we want to be, and this will be a step up, because if you win the league in Holland two years in a row, then you’re a good side.”
This is Hooiveld’s first full pre-season with the club, and the Dutchman has enjoyed what he has achieved so far as he looks forward to getting the new campaign underway in three weeks’ time.
“Every club has their own ideas on pre season and philosophies, but it’s certainly different to what I had before at Celtic, it’s in fact more like a Scandinavian way here working with the ball.
“Personally, I feel stronger every day, more fit, and more sharp so it’s getting better and better for me.”