A football career brought Nadine Hanssen to Aberdeen – but not her own.
The 28-year-old Dutch midfielder, who has played professionally in England and in Europe, moved to the Granite City after partner Kelle Roos signed for the Dons in June.
But Roos is no longer the only Red in his household, after Hanssen signed for Aberdeen Women earlier this week, having trained with the club since making the move north.
It’s the first time in the couple’s careers that they have played for the same club, with Hanssen most recently playing for Aston Villa while Roos plied his trade for Derby County.
The former PSV, Utrecht, KRC Genk and RSC Anderlecht player temporarily hung up her boots at the end of the 2020-21 season, as she and Roos started a family and welcomed their son Romeo in December 2021.
‘It’s nice we can support each other’
“During my pregnancy, I always had it in my mind that I’d come back to football,” Hanssen said. “We just had to look at the situation and find the right opportunity to come along.
“I’m so glad that I found the place, which is here at Aberdeen. I wanted to come back and play at a high level, so I’m really happy to be able to do that here.
“It’s the first time that Kelle and I will have played for the same team, so it’s really exciting. Both our weekend’s will be full of football, but it’s nice that we can support each other.
“It’s nice because we’ve played professionally, we both understand each other really well and we know the demands of being a football player and the sacrifices you have to make.
“It’s nice that it has all come together like this.”
Massive signing! 🤩🔥🏽 lets goo!! https://t.co/t9kxzv9V2n
— kelle roos (@kellsroos) September 14, 2022
And Hanssen says it has been a massive journey to get her body back fit to play elite football again, but it’s something she was always willing to do to get back to playing the game.
“I’ve had two heavy injuries on my knees – twice I’ve done my ACL, but I think it’s been tougher to come back from pregnancy than those two injuries,” she said.
“I always wanted to get back to football if the right opportunity came around, so to be back now, it’s great but it has been difficult.
“It’s been really challenging to get back to this level. It’s such a challenge, but being able to see what a woman’s body can do – I’m really excited to be back.
“Hopefully I can push on and be back fully fit within the next couple of weeks.”
Having worked extremely hard to get herself back to competitive football, Hanssen is proud that her son will be now able to watch both his parents play for the same club.
“We want to show him that if you work really for something then you can achieve anything you want to,” she said.
“It’s pretty special that he can see us both playing for Aberdeen.”
Bringing highest-level experience to the Dons
Hanssen becomes Aberdeen Women’s highest-profile signing, as she brings a wealth of experience to the club having played at the highest level in England, Belgium and the Netherlands.
During her time at Aston Villa, she played with and against some of the most notable names in football, such as Dutch compatriot Vivianne Miedema, Ballon d’Or nominee Sam Kerr and Aberdeenshire’s own Kim Little – just to name a few.
Now mixing with the likes of Dons youngsters Bayley Hutchison, Eilidh Shore and Jess Broadrick, Hanssen is excited to bring her experience to the club as they look to build on the success of the last two years.
“If you see where Aberdeen have come from – they’ve been on a really impressive run the last couple of years. I’m excited to be a part of that,” Hanssen said.
“Their first year back at the highest level last season, they did really well. The club are becoming more and more professional, and are beginning to take the steps in that process.
“I’m excited to help the club and see them progress even more. I think I can bring my experiences from playing in different leagues in different countries, and maybe help with things like mindset.
“I don’t score too many goals – maybe a couple a season! I’d describe myself as a number eight in the midfield. I like to make a lot of forward runs, try to give assists and make key passes.”
— Aston Villa Women (@AVWFCOfficial) December 13, 2020
Hanssen could be in line for her SWPL 1 debut on Sunday when Aberdeen play Spartans, and she’s looking forward to the unknown ahead of her potential Scottish top-flight bow.
“I haven’t played any games yet, so I don’t really know what to expect but I’m really looking forward to the experience,” Hanssen said. “I think it will be quite physical and very end-to-end.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing in this league. Obviously with teams like Celtic and Rangers, who are professional teams, it’ll be good to see how we stand against them.”
Although she might not know much about playing in SWPL 1, Hanssen has been in touch with somebody who does, as she has sought advice from former Villa teammate Chloe Arthur.
Scotland international Arthur, who is now at Crystal Palace, started her career at Celtic, before moving to Hibernian, where she reached the Scottish Cup final and finished second in the top flight.
“We’ve been on FaceTime to each other a couple times, so that’s been nice to have a chat to her and find out more about the Scottish leagues and Scottish football,” Hanssen said.
“It’s been really good to be able to hear her share the experience of playing in Scotland.”