Arsenal midfielder Jill Roord on staying motivated during tough times

The 23-year-old Dutch football sensation shares how she stays focused on training and playing at a high level during COVID-19, what has impacted her life the most, and what's Priceless to her off the pitch.

Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal midfielder Jill Roord has quite the professional resume at 23 years old, having started her professional career at age 16 for FC Twente in the Eredivisie, the top league in her home nation, the Netherlands. There, she won an Eredivisie title, along with back-to-back championships in the BeNe League (with Dutch and Belgian teams combined) and a KNVB Women's Cup. On top of all that, she was the Eredivisie's top scorer in the 2015-16 season.


Roord has also starred on the international stage for the Netherlands, helping them win the 2017 UEFA Women's Euros and the 2018 Algarve Cup, and scoring a game-winning goal against New Zealand at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Leaving home at 19 to play for Bayern Munich forced Roord to grow up fast, but also instilled in her a true appreciation for any fortunate time spent with friends and family.


In this interview, she shares what motivates her to train and play harder, how she's adjusted to playing without fans, and her most memorable moments on the pitch.


What's one moment that has impacted your life? What did you learn from it?

What has impacted my life the most was leaving home and living abroad. I've grown up very quickly; I think you have to. I was 19 when I went to Munich, and I had to live by myself and do everything without my family and friends. It was tough and still is sometimes, but it forms you as a person and was good for me. It makes me want to train harder and play better so that it's all worth it.


How has the return to play without fans been for you?

For me, personally, I find it most difficult because it does take the pressure off a bit, but I like the pressure and need it. The challenge is to find that pressure without the fans. So, it's a bit harder than it was with fans.


What are your top three moments on the pitch?

My debut for the national team—I think that's one of the proudest moments for every footballer. Secondly, my goal at the World Cup; it was my World Cup debut as well, and I scored the winning goal. And third would be winning the Euros.


Off the pitch, what is priceless to you?

For me, definitely spending time with family and friends. When you live abroad, you realize how nice it is to be home and how much you miss them when they're not around. For me, football is obviously important, but there is nothing more important than family and friends.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Football is really growing, and there are so many opinions about this question now, positive and negative. The most important thing I tell younger kids is to be yourself and believe in yourself.


Could you tell us about a time when you've had a big challenge and how you've bounced back from that?

I haven't really had a big one, as I've never been seriously injured. I've been on the bench a couple of times, and I think that has been challenging for me — being at the Euros and not coming onto the pitch. It's difficult, but it works to motivate me. When people tell me I'm not good enough, it makes me want to prove them wrong.