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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Van Damme keen to impress
Jelle van Damme
van Damme is eager to make a big impression at Southampton
New Southampton left-back Jelle van Damme is looking forward to testing himself in the Premiership.

The 20-year-old Belgian joined Saints from Ajax for a fee of around 2.5m.

He said: "I like the style of the game here. It is fast and physical with both teams going at it full tilt. I think that will suit me.

"I love the atmosphere at games in England and there are a lot of big stars here. I will be delighted to be playing with them and against them."

Ajax were keen to keep hold of van Damme as cover for Brazilian defender Maxwell, but he wants first-team football.

"The manager said he wanted me to stay because I was good back-up - and I had a contract there until 2008 so there was no need for me to go," he added.

"It was nice of him to say he wanted to keep me but I told him I had to play.

"I need to be playing first-team football if I am to stay in the Belgium side.

"I could wait a while in the reserves but not for too long - Southampton was a great opportunity for me and I could not turn it down."

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