Miedema: 'I think I can say that I will be the highest-paid [women’s] footballer in England. So I certainly can’t complain'

After months of speculation Vivianne Miedema has signed a new contract with Arsenal despite being able to leave on a free in the summer. Here she explains why …
Miedema: 'I think I can say that I will be the highest-paid [women’s] footballer in England. So I certainly can’t complain'

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04: Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at Emirates Stadium on May 04, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

You are an ambitious person but in five seasons at Arsenal you won the league only once and all the big clubs were after you. Why did you decide to stay? 

I’ve been in talks with several big clubs in Europe, that’s right. From Spain, France, England. I want to be part of a team that is experiencing a certain growth. Five years ago I came to Arsenal because I wanted to help that club move up. Once we won the league and in the past few years we have been close. Last season we were in the running until the last day, but Chelsea won it in the end. I said to Arsenal that we have to develop further and really have to win titles. If not, I’ll have to take another step. I will be 26 in a year so there are still many opportunities. But my focus is now completely on Arsenal.

Barcelona are now the benchmark in women’s football and they were also interested in signing you … 

Barcelona are the best team in the world right now. But England has the strongest league. Here you will not have easy matches. I expect the competition to get a further boost with the European Championship in England this summer. Every match you have to be at your best to get three points. I definitely think the Spanish league is getting there and that would be really good for women’s football.

Wouldn’t Barcelona be too strong with you in the squad? 

Ha, well that’s the whole idea of ​​football, that you bring in players who strengthen the team. That club is great. But Arsenal felt like the best option for now.

You have broken countless records in England. Arsenal literally put you on a pedestal with a [temporary] statue outside the Emirates Stadium, a first for a female player. Do things like that matter? 

No not at all. I’ve already had five great years but I indicated [to the club] that we have to do better. Other players have done that too. Hopefully the club can bring in some reinforcements this summer.

Were there clubs where you could have earned much more? 

There have been two clubs where I could have made more money, but I think I can say that I will be the highest-paid [women’s] footballer in England. So I certainly can’t complain. I really felt the appreciation of the club, and they do things well anyway. When you walk into the training complex at Arsenal you have the feeling that something is being worked on, you feel accepted, heard. You are part of something bigger. They very emphatically take their social responsibility seriously off the field. Arsenal are simply classy. Our team is very close, which will certainly help us on the field. That bond is also a reason to stay.

In men’s football, a decision to move is often made because of the money on offer or to join the best club possible … 

With the men you have even more options in terms of the best competitions and there are also different amounts [of money] involved than in women’s football. Steps are made there from £100,000 a week to £400,000 a week. The beautiful and pure thing about women’s football is that the motivations and the happiness lies more in the team working well. I have also experienced that with the national team [with whom she has won the Euros and reached the World Cup final]; those are the most beautiful memories.

There’s no guarantee I’ll never leave. I definitely think I want to play football somewhere else in my career. I had doubts for a long time and only decided two weeks ago. The decision was also made because of the arrival of Jonas [Eidevall, the Arsenal coach] last summer and the fact that I play more as a playmaker since the start of the year. I think I fit in better there and I also feel more comfortable there.

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema scores her sides first goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at the LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park, Borehamwood. Picture  Steve Paston/PA Wire. 
Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema scores her sides first goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at the LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park, Borehamwood. Picture  Steve Paston/PA Wire. 

You are looked upon as a pure finisher, though, and look at all your goalscoring records. Have you always wanted a different role? 

I always played in the No 10 position when I was a kid but because we didn’t have a striker in the national team I ended up playing there. And when you score that many goals you know you are not going to change position again. I think I can contribute even more in the No 10 position and so far it hasn’t had an effect on the number of goals I have scored either. Now I have more freedom and I can show more of myself. In the past I was often an island on my own up front. Now I am a connecting player and much more involved in the game.

Has London become “home” for you? 

England feels like home now. I have my own house in St Albans, north of London, and it is very quiet and beautiful. The relaxed lifestyle appeals to me, the richness of culture, plus you can easily pick up other things around football from here. I got my coaching certificate and in November I will have completed my master’s degree in business and marketing. You can switch off from football here. We often have a coffee with teammates or take a walk through the city.

Can you still do that without being recognised? 

Women’s football is getting more and more attention and bigger audiences. With sunglasses and a cap I can still get away with it but at the same time I like it when girls are excited about what you’re doing. We have always wanted to put women’s football on the map so that’s part of it. You can only be proud of that.

Women’s football is becoming more and more like the men’s, especially when it comes to broadcasting rights and attendances at stadiums. But in men’s football there is also more problems with fans, racism and homophobia. To what extent do you already see that creeping into women’s football? 

I will never say that I want women’s football to be exactly the same as men’s football. The great thing is that women’s football is still very emotional and pure. There is much less hatred in many areas. I hope it grows [but] then you probably end up in a difficult situation sometimes. That is part of growth and you have to deal with it well. Beautiful things happen in men’s football too.

You use your voice more and more. You are an ambassador for War Child, you have a column in a Dutch newspaper and on behalf of Common Goal you made a statement about the war in Ukraine together with Juventus star Paulo Dybala. What has led to this development? 

My mother was always helping others and she wanted to pass that virtue on to me and my brother. Our platform puts us in a position to help children who are less fortunate than we were. That’s why I thought it was so nice that War Child came to me; I didn’t have to think about it for a moment. I also want to show children that you can do more than one thing, more than just being a footballer. I follow everything closely on the news. If you’re in a position to speak up, to raise issues, I think you should.

Guardian

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