Dwight Tiendalli shares Swansea City's total football philosophy
AS a graduate of the fabled Ajax academy, Dwight Tiendalli is a man well versed in the ways of total football.
Swansea City's new signing spent the formative years of his career at the great Amsterdam institution, where the spectre of Dutch legends such as Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens is woven into the fabric of the club.
The Ajax playing philosophy, brought to a global audience by the masterful Netherlands side of the 1970s, dictates that short passing is king, with possession exchanged fluidly between players of all positions.
Tiendalli may be a left-back whose primary duty is to defend, but he subscribes wholeheartedly to this expressive ethos, and the 26-year-old reckons his new team do so as well.
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"The way Swansea play is typically Dutch," he says. "I watched them on TV before I signed.
"In the past I was at Ajax, where I played 13 years in the youth set-up.
"We learned to play from the back, to the midfield and then to the forward, rather than from the back and then a long ball.
"I think Swansea play like that as well, starting from the back and trying to play. I like that.
"If you look at the squad, it is a beautiful mix with Welshmen, Englishmen, Spaniards and Dutchmen.
"That mix makes it a good squad because we play a good possession game. I think it will take us forward.
"I know a couple of players in the team. I've played with Kemy Agustien, Jonathan de Guzman and Michel Vorm in the past, which has helped.
"I spoke to Jonathan before coming and we had a little chat about Swansea, how it is. He said it was a good club and everyone is nice. He also told me the style of play would fit with me."
Tiendalli seems to have chosen his latest destination carefully.
The defender played for Dutch side FC Twente last season but, when their manager Steve McClaren offered Tiendalli a new contract, he turned it down.
The former Utrecht man was then left without a club throughout the summer and for the first few weeks of this campaign.
Tiendalli says he received a number of offers from clubs across Europe, but he bided his time in anticipation of a side with a footballing outlook to match his.
Such a patient approach may have seemed risky to some but it paid dividends for Tiendalli, albeit in unfortunate circumstances.
Just hours after the Premier League's transfer window shut at the end of last month, Swansea left-back Neil Taylor broke and dislocated his ankle in the 2-2 draw against Sunderland, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
With the Swans unable to sign a replacement from another club, they had to scour the free-agent market for an unattached player who could move outside the transfer window.
Michael Laudrup and his scouts considered a number of options and, fortunately for Tiendalli, it was the ex-Twente man they chose.
"For me it has worked out well, but for Neil it is very bad," he says. "He is a good player and a young player doing well, so for him it is very bad he is injured for a year.
"This was the first time I had been without a club. I didn't worry because I knew I could have gone to other clubs. I waited for the moment when I could go to the Premier League.
"I waited long but I'm here now. I want to play in the Premier League and I didn't want to go to Russia or another league."
Tiendalli's ambitions are clear: to play in the Premier League and with a side whose approach suits his.By joining Swansea, he appears to have ticked both those boxes, and he is looking forward to testing himself in his new environment.
"I think the Premier League is three or four levels higher than the Dutch league," Tiendalli adds.
"It's the best competition in the world. You play against the biggest and best players in the world.
"For me, it is also a good opportunity to see where I am. I've played in the Champions League and played a lot of Europa League games. For me, this is a good step forward."
Having not played since last season, Tiendalli is unlikely to start for Swansea against Aston Villa tomorrow.
The full-back is short of match fitness and, although it may be some time before he makes his Swans debut, Tiendalli is eager to make a good first impression.
"I am a defender and my first job is to defend," he says.
"I want to keep clean sheets at the back, which is our first job as defenders.
"If you can do more and support the midfield and attack, that's good. But you never forget the first job is to defend.
"The only difficult thing for me is my condition. That's a little heavy at the moment because I haven't been playing regularly.
"I've missed the pre-season and that's hard, but it will come with a lot of training and minutes.
"I don't know how long it will take until I am match-fit. If the coach needs me tomorrow or next week, I will have to be there and do my thing."