It’s the early after noon at the La Manga Club resort when we sit down with Everton defender Siri Worm.
The 25-year-old is back with the Dutch national team after a notable summer absence, that saw her miss out on a spot in the team that went on to claim Euro gold in the Netherlands but also a time that saw her find a new home in the English north west as she joined up with Everton.
A difference in tempo, but not weather
Predictably, we start off our chat talking about her new club and the move that took her from childhood club Twente to join up with Andy Spence’s recently promoted Blue Girls.
“I really enjoy it, it’s a big step for me to play in another country and I really like it over there, it’s a very good competition.”
With the Eredivisie still young in its evolution, Worm has had to acclimatise to life in WSL, the league not what she’s used to.
“It’s a really big difference; it’s more physical, more powerful, more running but it’s quite technical as well.”
Like most of her compatriots, Worm is well versed in more than one language and [thankfully for this reporter] her English is excellent though she admits that getting used to life in Liverpool was harder than she expected.
“The first weeks I couldn’t understand the Scouse people, I was saying, “What did you say?” I thought my English was good and I can understand everything but the accent was hard to understand.”
Somewhat of a package deal with Marthe Munsterman, the Dutch duo signed for Everton at the same time, the compatriots helping each other settle in a new land.
“I’ve known Marthe for a long time, we played together for ten years at Twente and even before then we knew each other. It’s a good thing to have someone you know everything about there with you so you can help each other when you’re struggling but also to have them there when things are good too.
And after football you have each other to just go to the city or go out for dinner, it was really important for both of us.”
Far from the only Dutch players in WSL with Danique Kerkdijk at Bristol City and Dominique Bruinenberg at Sunderland as well as a Dutch quartet at Arsenal, Worm admits that playing teams like Arsenal carries an extra significance,
“It’s good to see them and it’s nice to play against each other, it feels a little bit the same as when we were at Twente and we’d play against Ajax; you want to win against your [national] team mates. So when Everton play against Arsenal it makes it a little more special.”
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After a spell with local club DZC’68, the Doetinchem native joined Enschede-based Twente and worked through the youth set-up before making the leap to the senior team, the defender opting to wear the familiar red strip for a decade in total. Suffering a complicated knee injury fifteen minutes from time against KAA Gent in April 2015, any ideas of moving on to pastures greener fast evaporated for Worm as she began the long road to recovery that saw her return 363 days later.
“I wanted to have another opportunity, another chance to improve myself. I had wanted to go earlier but I got my injury so maybe that’s I didn’t leave sooner but it was the best moment to leave FC Twente and join Everton.”
The injury didn’t just leave the defender with a long way back to fitness but saw her miss out on the Netherland’s World Cup debut in Canada that summer. Despite the severity of her injury, Worm remained motivated to return to playing.
“I was motivated to come back, I injured my ACL before the World Cup so it was a terrible moment, a bad time. I wanted to come back but it was really hard because I had injured my ACL, MCL and meniscus so it was a big injury. After one year I played again for Twente for another for a year, but I was always very motivated.”
After a spell of dominance, Twente found themselves without a league title for the first time in a long time come the end of the 2016-17 season as Ajax slipped beyond them in the Eredivisie. Despite the upset with more investment at Ajax, Worm doesn’t see the changing of the guard as the start of a boom in the league.
“No, I think it’s a big step between Holland and England; England has improved very well to go full-time professional and have ten good clubs – it’s really important to have that competition – and I hope the Eredivisie will take a step up but it’s really hard with all the players leaving to go to other league like Germany and England.”
A regular under Roger Reijners and Arjan van der Laan, Worm remained a part of the Dutch set-up for the first few months of Sarina Wiegman’s tenure, the defender present for both the La Manga training camp in January and Algarve Cup in March. But from then the left-back slipped away from the squad, missing out on a spot at the Euros, and Worm isn’t shy to admit that she was left angry and disappointed by the omission.
“It was really hard. Of course, I felt angry and disappointed because you want to play in the big games and tournaments so it’s really hard but you can do two things; quit or work harder. It was my only option; work harder, go to another club, improve myself. I took some time to enjoy myself and gave myself some time to improve and get used to the new game and the new culture. Now, after a half year it’s better, I feel comfortable, I feel good and I’m happy that I have my new chance.”
Keeping an open dialogue with the Dutch coach, Worm has worked her way back into the squad and is set to do whatever it takes to keep getting capped.
“Of course, we spoke about it last year, I wasn’t playing every game for Everton as I had to change everything but I had in my head that I improve every week so I spoke to her about my improvement and what I could do. I enjoy it every time I’m back with the national team, I’m really glad to be here so we’ll see what happens.”