FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Whether it be directly or indirectly, the trio of Wesley Sneijder, Wayne Rooney, and Nani all played a part in bringing Dutch left back Alexander Büttner to the New England Revolution.
Sneijder, long one of the world’s top midfielders and a fixture with the Dutch national team for 15 years, called Büttner to pitch him on the idea of playing in the United States, and specifically with the Revolution. Büttner, in search of a new club and an admirer of Major League Soccer, was all ears.
“I know Sneijder well (from our shared time at Ajax), so he just gave me a call and he talked about the club,” Büttner said via phone from Amsterdam on Tuesday. “He asked me if I wanted to play in America, and my feeling was good about this conversation with him, so he helped me a lot. That was nice.”
The conversation led to contact with the Revolution, and ultimately a visit to New England in mid-September. Büttner had a chance to meet the players, chat with sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, and link up with Revolution assistant and fellow Dutchman Dave van den Bergh, who was in the Ajax system with Sneijder from 1991-97.
“This was my first visit to New England, and I really liked it,” said Büttner. “The club was good for me. The players gave me a good welcome, so it feels like home. When I went back to Holland, I had a good feeling about everything – about the club, the players, the staff. I feel really good about this club.”
Büttner also feels really good about the league, which he said he’s long followed as MLS games are regularly broadcast on television in the Netherlands. That’s how he tracked the success of players like Rooney (formerly of D.C. United) and Nani (Orlando City SC), once teammates of Büttner’s at Manchester United (2012-14).
Each weekend that Büttner watched MLS he became more intrigued by the prospect of playing stateside, and he was thrilled when the Revolution came along to make that vision a reality.
“For me, it’s a dream to play in America,” said Büttner. “I’ve played everywhere: England, Russia, Belgium. I cannot wait to start in America because this is, for me, a dream to play football there. It’s a new thing for me, but I cannot wait.”
Büttner said he’ll draw upon his experience playing in the world’s biggest competitions for some of the world’s top clubs when he joins the Revs for the 2020 season, and as a veteran left back, he’ll aim to add stability at a position the Revs featured four different players in 2019.
A successful run through the second half of last season has the Revs poised to be an even bigger player in the Eastern Conference in 2020, and Büttner is excited to be part of the Revolution’s continued rise.
“I just want to show when I play football next season that I can be very important for the team,” said Büttner. “They have some good players. I cannot wait to start there. I think next season, I hope we’re going to get a good season again, from the beginning, so I can help with that.”