It’s finally official, Rafael van der Vaart the Netherlands midfielder and Hamburg’s captain is on his way to Real Madrid pending the results of a medical. The Bundesliga’s own version of the Ronaldo affair has come an end. Although the clubs themselves have not released the details regarding the transfer fee, reports in the German media estimate it at an initial 13 million Euros. This fee would increase to 15 million depending on how successful the Spanish champions are over the next several seasons.
Hamburg’s website has a farewell interview available. Unfortunately it’s only in German. Just in case the club does not provide an English version of its own the interview has been (quickly) translated* below:
Hsv.de: Rafael, last night Hamburg and Real Madrid agreed to your transfer. You will sign a five-year contract with the Spanish record champions. How are you feeling right now and how happy are you that things have finally cleared up?
Van der Vaart: I’m doing well. The transfer was agreed upon late in the night. It took a long time and was uncertain for quite a while, but now everything’s cleared up. I’m happy about that, but also a bit sad. It was a nice time. As I come back here, see everything once more and have to say my goodbyes, well, that’s a strange feeling.
Hsv.de: You always stressed that your dream was to play for a club like Real Madrid. What kind of expectations do you have of Spain?
Van der Vaart: I hope that everything works out like it did with the transfer to Hamburg. You have to realize that it’s a completely different team. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world and the fulfillment of a dream of mine. I would like to play many games and be important to the team in Madrid. That naturally depends on both my own performance and the success of the club. I’m looking forward to it.
Hsv.de: You were quite stressed the past few days. Has that now changed?
Van der Vaart: I’m still stressed. So many new things are hitting me. I’m flying to Madrid this same day, tomorrow is the medical and official unveiling. These are all nice things, but naturally I’m anxious.
Hsv.de: Over the weekend at the Emirates Cup you were able to observe your new teammates up close. Had you already had contact with them, specifically with your Dutch colleagues and have they already begun clowning around with you in London?
Van der Vaart: Naturally I spoke often about [transferring] with Wesley Sneijder, for example, but it’s something else when you meet up in the stadium. They already had some fun: come over here or go into our dressing room. But I was still a Hamburg player and so behaved like one. I knew that the clubs were in negotiations.
Hsv.de: Bernd Hoffman proved himself to be an uncomprimising negotiator. How did you experience the back and forth over the last several days?
Van der Vaart: It was exciting. It was my absolute dream and a big career goal of mine to go to Real. Hoffman, naturally and like we all know, negotiated uncompromisingly. But Hamburg also earned its money.
Hsv.de: You weren’t in the starting lineup at the Emirates Cup. Many fans were angered by this decision. Can you explain this?
Van der Vaart: It was a joint decision with the trainer [Martin Jol]. I had so much going through my mind. In that condition you aren’t able to help the team. Naturally people will ask, “why does he want to go, why to Real?” But anyone looking in his heart [knows] it’s a dream to play for a club like that.
Hsv.de: You can look back on three wonderful and successful years at HSV. What are you going to take from this time?
Van der Vaart: It was, without question, a super time. It was the best decision of my footballing career to come to Hamburg. I experienced three wonderful years, received a lot of love, enjoyed many beautiful moments. There were highs and lows, but the fans were always there, that was the best. A single look into the stadium and you know that.
Hsv.de: Your wife felt quite comfortable in Hamburg as well. In addition, your son was born here. Are they both going with you to Madrid?
Van der Vaart: They both are coming along tonight. Sylvie will come back in a few days, because she has to return to work. But they’re both moving to Madrid in order to support me.
Hsv.de: Now it’s time to say farewell. Are you leaving with mixed feelings and is there anything else that you’d like to say to the fans?
Van der Vaart: It pains me to move away as well. Especially when I think of the fans. They always supported me even during the bad times, especially during the Valencia affair. I had goosebumps every time I played here. When you leave of course it’s easy to say, “Hamburg will always stay in my heart,” but it’s honestly so and will remain that way. I think Hamburg and I will meet again, maybe as a trainer or as a player, but in any case as a fan. I can only say thanks for everything!
Hsv.de: We would also like to thank you and wish you and your family good luck in your travels.
* – I replaced HSV with Hamburg throughout and made some other minor edits.