'Hopefully not today' - Brighton star has message for Ajax-supporting family
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Van Hecke – one of three Dutchmen who started for Albion at the John Cruyff Arena on Thursday (November 9) – put in a superb performance as the Seagulls secured back-to-back 2-0 wins over the four-time European champions.
"I am really delighted, it's a really great feeling for us,” the 23-year-old said. “Back to back wins gets us up in the table. I am really proud of everyone.
“It was a great atmosphere, a great stadium. Ajax was a lot better than last time. They were not sitting deep – they were trying to press us so it was a more intense game."
The former NAC Breda star said he had ‘a lot of family and friends’ in support at the match – ‘like 35/40 people’.
"I'm from the south, not close to Amsterdam,” he said. “They are big fans of Brighton.
"My brothers do [support Ajax] but not today, hopefully."
The defender contributed to a fantastic defensive performance, limiting the hosts to few clear cut chances.
"I was telling myself 'now you need to step up and ensure they don't score',” Van Hecke said, recalling his thoughts when Ajax were piling on late pressure.
"We were lucky they hit the post twice [from Brian Brobbey’s shot] so that was a lucky moment but I think overall we defended our box really well.
"You can see the last few games we are getting better and conceding less goals. That's a good job for us. I think we can build on that.”
It was almost a perfect night for Brighton but defenders Lewis Dunk, Pervis Estupnian and James Milner suffered concerning-looking injuries.
Milner, the most experienced player in the squad, suffered a knock in the first-half and was unable to continue. The captain, Dunk – who was named in the latest England squad – pulled up with a groin injury before the half-time whistle.
He tried to carry on but did not emerge for the second-half, with Igor taking his place. Estupinan, who was making his return from a long-term muscle injury, had to leave the field just 12 minutes after replacing Mahmoud Dahoud.
"We did really well, with the players going off with injuries,” Van Hecke said. “It was unlucky, but the players who came in did a good job.
“It's too early to say [how bad the injuries are]. We'll wait to see the next few days.
"It's hard when good players leave the pitch. The players did a great job. Pascal [Gross] went from midfield to left-back. He can play in every position.
"[Igor] did really well when he came in. Good clearances and composure on the ball. He was really important for us.”
The centre-back said he ‘really enjoyed’ his personal battle with Brobbey, adding: “I played with him in the under 21s and played against him a few times. He's a good guy, respectful.”
Van Hecke has been the centre of attention in Amsterdam, with him joining De Zerbi for the pre-match press conference.
He said: “It's a bit different [having attention on me]. You get loads of messages and everyone trying to speak to you. Press conference and stuff like that. I like it. On the pitch you need to show it and I think I did.”