Willem II midfielder and potential future Irish international Dan Crowley has opened up on his exit from English football as he prepares for a meeting with Ajax in this weekend’s Dutch Cup final.
Crowley had been considered one of Arsenal’s most promising young players a few years ago, but a handful of unsuccessful loan spells at the likes of Barnsley and Oxford led to his exit from the London club in 2017.
The attacking midfielder decided to try his hand at the game outside of England and joined Willem II on a free transfer when they were playing in the second division of Dutch football.
In an interview with Goal.com, Crowley was honest in his assessment as to why he felt things didn’t work out for him in England the first time.
“I had no choice,” he said. “I had quite a bad name in England, which was fair, but the thing is – I was still a kid.
“I was this kid in a man’s world and it was really hard. Just because I was ready with my feet footballing-wise, it doesn’t mean that I was ready maturity-wise and I think that that is what people forget in football. That side of things is not really fair.
“You have to grow up so fast and I wasn’t ready to do that.
“I feel like I was a bit of a scapegoat at times. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always handle things in the right way.”
Crowley has refound his feet in Holland and his goals and assists have been vital in helping Willem II to this weekend’s Dutch Cup final, a game in which Irish manager Mick McCarthy will reportedly be in attendance for.
The 21-year old also explained that he has learned a lot during his time in Holland and that he has so far had “no problems” since he arrived at Willem II.
“I haven’t had any problems out here,” he said. “There hasn’t been anything in the papers about me and that was an issue when I was in England. People questioned my attitude and my maturity but I think I’ve proven that now. I’ve grown up a lot and I needed to.
“Before, I was falling out with people because I wasn’t playing but I’ve learned you can’t do that because you just become disruptive for the team and it’s not their fault.
“The thing with me is I have a strong personality. I’m a bit like marmite. You either really like me or you don’t understand me.
“I’ve had to change because sometimes I would say things in the wrong places. I’d speak my mind in the wrong situation when it wasn’t needed or it was out of order.
“But there is no malice in me; it’s just I don’t sugar-coat what I say.”