Vivianne Miedema is a goal machine, plain and simple. From the moment she burst onto the scene she has broken records left, right and centre. After making her debut for the national team at the age of 17 she now sits as the Netherlands’ all-time leading scorer. And she’s still only 23.

After a starring role at the World Cup, in which she scored three goals as the Dutch made it all the way to the final, we caught up with Arsenal's striking sensation while shooting the adidas Encryption Pack to discuss her beginnings in the game, her incredible scoring record and how it necessitates ever-changing targets, and how it felt to break her idol's record.

Going right back to the beginning, can you set the scene for us: when did you first fall in love with the game?

Quite young to be fair. I was like two or three when I started kicking everything. My Dad used to play football and I went to the pitch with him and once I turned, I think you had to be four and a half, I already started playing football in Holland. It was quite easy going and it was always just football.

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Do you remember getting your first shirts and first boots and it meaning quite a lot to you?

Yeah, not so much my first boots, but I do remember getting my first Feyenoord kits. I had Van Persie on the back and Dirk Kuyt on the back. I always loved it, that was kind of my birthday present. It was always quite special to get them. I am an adidas athlete now, but I’ve always played with adidas, because my Dad used to, so I got the tiny, little ones first. And I always wanted to have black boots. It was always really special to get these things.

Did you face any negativity, hurdles or barriers as you were trying to play football?

I think I’ve been quite lucky. Obviously Holland and women’s football is a good combination, so when I used to grow up I just used to play with the boys, and they fully excepted that. When we used to play against the other teams they’d say “oh it’s a girl, she can’t play”, but that’s probably all I had. My parents have been really supportive, as has everyone around me, and it’s really helped me to where I am right now.

Did you thrive in those games when you were younger, when people might have been doubting you?

Yeah, I loved it to be fair. I remember playing against FC Groningen, which is another big team in Holland, and the boys were just laughing, but in the end we won the game 7-5 I think, and I scored five of the goals. I loved it, changing their mind, and after that they knew who I was and they respected me.

You've won the Euros, played in a World Cup Final, won the Player of the Year award, top scorer for your country, played in the Netherlands, Germany and England and you’ve also brought out a series of children’s books. How are you still only 23?

I don’t feel 23, I feel a lot older!

But how have you fit it all in?

I think I’m quite lucky. It’s my ninth season at the highest level already. Three years in Holland, Three in Germany, and this is my third year here now. It’s been going really fast and quick, but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved.

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Are you one of these people that stops and looks at what you’ve achieved, or are you always wanting more?

I never used to be, but something last year has switched, so I do think I am able to enjoy it more. I love going out for training – which is really weird for me to say! But even the World Cup, I felt like I could really enjoy it and actually realise what I was doing and I think that’s going to help me even more as a player.

Your goalscoring record is incredible; you’re used to winning and scoring. What’s it like after a game that you’ve lost and haven’t scored in?

That’s just a game that you want to forget as soon as possible! Nah, I always say that I am a number nine, but it’s not that I live for scoring goals. I’d rather win the game than score. Obviously the main goal is that you want to win the league, you want to win the World Cup, Euros. When I can score and help the team then that’s a plus, but the main thing is winning with the team.

Finding the net as much as you have, do you put it down to training or is it quite instinctive?

Definitely not more training! I think it has come naturally to me. I used to play as a number 10 when I was younger, but we didn’t have another number nine at the club and for the national team, so they kind of put me up there and from then on I realised that scoring goals was probably the thing that I was best at.

Do you feel that the women’s game has progressed a lot in the time that you’ve been playing?

Yeah, definitely. The easiest example for me is that when I started playing for the national team we probably would have two to three thousand people in the stands, but now we sell out our stadiums within 30 minutes and we’ve got 30-35 thousand people at the game, which is obviously a massive difference. Even for me playing at home in Holland to Germany to now in England you can see that the women’s game has progressed and that the level is getting higher and that there’s more people that care about it.

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The World Cup was huge, with so many games being televised in the UK. Can you sense how it’s changed in the time you’ve been here?

When I first came here you could kind of see it happening already. I think that year the Euros had just taken place, and the Lionesses got to the semi-finals, which was a big thing for them. But yeah, especially leading up towards the last World Cup and the with the Euros here in 2021, you can see that it’s growing. You can see that it’s becoming bigger. A lot of the games are on telly now, and that’s big steps that everyone of us sees – not just the players, but everyone around it as well. It’s just amazing to be a part of it and I hope it’s only going to grow bigger and bigger. 

There’s a great platform appearing across both the women’s and men’s national teams in Holland at the moment. Is there much interaction between the groups and do you support each other?

It’s not that we see the men every single week, but some of the girls do have contact with them. If you play at the same club it’s easier, but you know that they follow you like we follow them, so there’s always going to be that connection, especially the younger boys. A lot of them are really supportive of women’s football, so it’s nice to have that click. It’s the same at Arsenal; the boys are really open about it. We go to their games and they always ask how we do, so yeah, that’s only getting better as well.

You recently overtook Robin van Persie as the leading goalscorer for the Netherlands. How did that feel, because he was an idol for you?

It was obviously quite special. Everyone saw it coming, but it was quite nice that it happened at the World Cup and in the second game. We won that game as well, so that was all just a bonus. It’s really special to be the top scorer for your country.

Do you set targets for how many international goals you can score?

When I came into the national team I said 50 goals and I am gone. But I was 21 or 22 when I achieved that, so then I had to redo it. After that I said 100 goals and I’m done. But if I keep scoring like this I’ll achieve that by 25 or 26, so I’m not going to say anything anymore, just see wherever it ends.

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Joining a brand like adidas, is that reflective of your characteristics?

I’ve always played in adidas boots. I think I was quite lucky as I was about 16 when I signed my first contract with adidas. I can’t see myself ever playing with another shoe, and I think that as a football player it’s the most important thing, you want to have boots that fit you and that suit you, and that’s definitely what I’ve got with adidas. Everything on the side of that is just a big bonus.

Do you think you’d ever want to release a signature collection or anything like that?

I probably would, but I don’t think anyone would buy it, because I would just go for black boots and that’s not really in fashion anymore these days. But it’s really cool when the big players bring out boots like when Messi had his own line, or even Nike with Ronaldo. It’s just a big thing and that’s really special to have as a player.

We’ve seen more women’s teams playing in the club’s main stadium recently. What would you like to see in the future?

That’s the next big step. I think we’ve improved a lot. The biggest thing right now, especially in England, is that more people get attracted to coming to the games. Steps have been taken last year and this year, but it can be a lot better still. I think that should the main focus for the next couple of years and hopefully instead of just the men we can play in a full Emirates as well in ten – well, I hope five years time. Ten years time I probably won’t be there anymore, but we’ll see.

What’s it been like living in London, and how have you enjoyed the city life?

It’s been really easy. I lived on a farm at home, so it doesn’t really count as anything, but going to Munich was a good step in between, as London can be quite overwhelming, but I love being just 15 minutes from the centre. It’s nice to just have the option to go into London sometimes or just have a lazy day at home. I’ve settled in really well at the club and that’s why I renewed my contract.


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