Keep off the grass. Not everyone in his Dutch homeland subscribes to this advice. But when new Dundee signing Randy Wolters is around, it might be wise.
Dutch football had its own pitch invasion controversy at the end of the 2015-16 season, just 24 hours after Hibs’ Scottish Cup win was marked by fans spilling on to the park at Hampden.
Go Ahead Eagles’ play-off victory over De Graafschap condemned the latter side to the second tier, where they remain. The second leg, which finished 1-1 after Go Ahead Eagles won 4-1 in the first game, was at De Graafschap’s own stadium.
So it was not over-exuberance that led to their fans’ invasion. Rather, it was hurt, disappointment and dismay.
There was always the potential for a combustible situation to develop when mixed with jubilant opposition players celebrating their promotion to the Eredivisie. Wolters, a winger, was one of them. But things took a further nasty turn when he mistakenly thought his father Jack, on the field too because he was a photographer, was being assaulted by a fan.
“A couple of thousand (of fans) went to the De Graafschap players to give them a shoulder to cry on, but 20 or 30 came towards us,” recalled Wolters.
“My father is a photographer so was on the pitch and I thought I saw someone hit him. It turns out it wasn’t him, it was just a guy who looked like him. But I went over and he then went to punch the goalkeeper. So I did a bit of a ‘Conor McGregor’ on him and left him knocked out.
“I was zoomed in [on the camera] and it was on BBC and CNN going viral,” he continued.
“I punched him in self-defence, it was crazy. There was maybe 200 supporters or something on the pitch. From the 200 maybe 30 or 40 were going for us.
“I’m not a bad, bad guy, I think I’m a nice guy! I don’t mean to be cocky, I’m a happy guy. But when I have the kit on I want to fight [to win].”
Dundee fans might like what they hear. For too long perceived as a soft touch, the Dens Park side are beginning to re-shape under new manager Neil McCann. Wolters is the fourth new arrival of the summer, with more expected in the coming days.
McCann, pictured, is planning to play two almost completely different sides in each half at St Mirren tonight, in Dundee’s first pre-season friendly. Another Dutchman, trialist centre half/left-back Crescendo van Berkel, will be given a run-out this evening in Paisley, likewise Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Nils Rutten, who has also arrived at the club in the hope of winning a deal.
But it’s Wolters who could steal the show judging by the reputation of those stating his case, including Dutch legends Artur Numan and Ronald de Boer. Perhaps understandably, Wolters also now has a bad-boy image in the Netherlands, where he was even persuaded to pull on some boxing gloves in one television interview. However, he protests this one ugly incident is not why he left his homeland. Wolters wasn’t even punished by the KNVB (Dutch Football Association).
Den Haag, where he was on loan last season, wanted to sign him on a three-year deal. But their hesitation because of financial problems provided Dundee manager Neil McCann with the chance to pounce, after recommendations by former Rangers teammates Numan and De Boer.
Wolters recalls how he got “chicken skin” when he heard the two Dutch internationals had praised him to McCann, who quickly offered the player a two-year deal.
Dundee fans will hope they get goosebumps when they see a player whom McCann describes as having a “thunderbolt” of a left foot. Wolters had other options in Australia, America and Turkey.
“The money was good but the feeling was not there. I am going to be a dad in January – the feeling has to be good,” he said.
Aged 27, he is clearly entering a more mature phase of his life. And for those looking to hear more about the day he knocked a supporter clean out, don’t bother asking.
Clearly now irked by constant reference to the incident back home, he has agreed to talk about it once – and once only.
“In Holland everyone said I was right to do it but I kept getting asked about it and people got sick of hearing the story. I don’t speak about it these days.
“Football is the most important thing,” he added. “I want to win games with nice football but I can fight too if I need to. But playing good football is far more important.
“On the field when my teammates are hurt or something I will be there to help them. You will see I am passionate. I will be fighting no problem, just not literally though!”