Markus Tozman – a second-year German student from Berlin and the founding father of student gymnastics club Saturnus - is wearing an orange T-shirt with a print of the Dutch flag and the word oranje on it. He also possesses an orange ‘lion hat’, some orange make-up and other orange party stuff.
Why aren’t you wearing the German black and white shirts?
“I’ve been a fan of the Dutch football team since I was seven or eight years old. I have relatives who live near Enschede, that’s how I got to know this country and their soccer team. They play very attractive football, which is something you can’t always say of the German team. The Germans are very effective, but boring. I love the Dutch fan culture. The streets are orange, the people are orange. Everybody stands by their team. In Germany the fans are less exuberant, more restrained. Although things have changed since the World Championship of 2006, which was held in Germany. But in the Netherlands it all seems more natural, more joyful.”
The other side of the medal: When the Dutch play bad, everybody complains.
“Last Monday they didn’t play that well. But that’s no reason to let them down. Even the players who keep the bench warm belong to the top of the world. The difficulty with the Dutch is that they don't always behave like a team on the field. If they do, they could reach the finals.”
Why do you like the Netherlands so much?
“The people are more open. This is my third year in this country, I have never been treated in an unfriendly way. It’s also a matter of how you present yourself. When I tell them I come from Germany, they start smiling and their eyes go twinkling. Your Dutch is so good, they always say.” They are right. Tozman speaks fluently and without a German accent. He has learned it during the year he spent in Eindhoven as a jack-of-all-trades at a high school. “It was my alternative national service.”
There must be something that’s not nice about the Netherlands?
“The way the Dutch drive. When you leave 10 meter space between you and the next car on the motorway, two cars filter in. You have to brake like a madman if anything happens.
“One other thing: I never know what to do when I meet friends in public at the UM or on the street. I’m used to giving a kiss or a hug, but the Dutch can be a bit standoffish.”
Do you feel integrated?
“In the Netherlands? Yes, I think so. The language is the key. I have a lot of friends, more Dutch then Germans.”
Who’s is your favourite Dutch singer?
He laughs. “It’s a bit embarrassing but I think Guus Meeuwis isn’t that bad. I like Dio and Partysquad. I almost don’t dare to say, but that’s hip-hop. I also like the schlagers you hear and sing in the pubs.”
He doesn’t know the name of the singers. He sings: “Rosanne.” And: “Ik tel tot drie. Een, twee, drie.” An Observant journalist who’s walking by comes to help: “The first one is from Nick and Simon, the second one is from Guus Meeuwis.” Tozman smiles: “Guus Meeuwis again.”