Some things are meant to be! He didn’t reach the top in Europe but became an absolute star in Indonesia. With various degrees of success, he played in Bulgaria, Scotland, and England, but a move to Indonesia in 2017 changed his life! Not many people would give up their Dutch passport (Considering you can enter 186 countries with it) to be an Indonesian citizen, but Marc Klok did.
Born and raised in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam! He started his career at FC Utrecht but realized his dreams in Indonesia. There are different ways to reach the top of your abilities and talent alone isn’t enough! Football isn’t the only thing that drives him, success outside the pitch is equally important. During his career, he started several companies, and even during the current pandemic, he is a busy man.
We sat down with self-made star Marc Anthony Klok in Bali and talked about his unique life-story.
The Scottish Foundation
It doesn’t matter how or what it takes to succeed as a professional football player. I had my goals, the support of both my parents and I was determined to make it as a professional.
At FC Utrecht, I didn’t make it to the first team, I waited too long and didn’t feel the trainer’s confidence. Connections linked me with Ross County in Scotland, a great chance in a football-loving country.
Although times were tough and the success rate wasn’t high, it was one of the most important periods of my life. At that moment as a young kid, I didn’t realize it then, but that first experience of taking care of yourself in a hard and difficult world at that age was the foundation for the rest of my career. Life is easier if you have success on the pitch, the vibe is positive and people are interested in you and your actions. I honestly can say that even though I didn’t play much at that time, I learned a lot about myself and the world of football.
Unfortunately, it didn’t all worked out for the best and I needed to find a new club. With a life lesson learned in Scotland, I was looking for a new club and challenge.
That I found a new club and challenge in Bulgaria was quite something, but I had to take it with both hands as there were no other clubs interested at that time. I had to pass a trial to earn a contract which wasn’t new for me. Within two days I had a contract signed by Tsjerno More Varna, the oldest football club in Bulgaria.
The facilities were quite poor and only a few people spoke English. It took about 6 months before the supporters appreciated me as a person and player. Bulgarian people are warm and nice but you need to prove yourself as a good person first. Before that, they are quite judgmental and you need to earn respect, especially as a foreigner.
The beginning was quite hard but the lessons learned in Scotland and the right mindset kept me going. The coach gave me confidence and I started in most matches. For the first time in my career, I was a popular player and the supporters started to love me. That feeling was great but I wanted more. I needed a lift to the Premier League, the ultimate goal was to play at Old Trafford! David Beckham was my idol and his lifestyle and appearance outside the pitch was the bigger picture I wanted.
From England and Scotland to Indonesian paradise
After the success in Bulgaria, I found myself struggling again in England. It’s every player’s dream to reach the Premier League and I hoped to get there through Oldham Athletic but it didn’t work out as I was hoping for. Quickly after I moved to Scotland, I got the chance to sign a contract in Indonesia. I just needed to break my contract in Scotland to be able to move to PSM Makassar in Indonesia. I told the boss that I didn’t want to play football anymore and needed a break. My Amsterdam’s guts helped me to force a break in Scotland and I was able to move to the tropical island of Sulawesi.
I visited Indonesia (Bali) once, although the popular island of Bali is different than the City of Makassar, the friendliness of the people is the same. From the moment I landed in Makassar, I felt at home. I got a great villa close to the beach with seven rooms, a bodyguard and a private driver. Comparing with my small room in Oldham is wat quite an improvement.
PSM trainer Robert Renee Aalbers was the man behind the transfer to PSM Makassar. He gave me a lot of confidence which is very important for a football player. So from the start, I felt at home and I directly made targets I wanted to realize in Indonesia. Being a star (David Beckham from Indonesia) and become financially independent was on that target-list.
The Pluim and Klok connection
Dutch midfielder Wiljam Pluim made the move to Makassar the year before I arrived and it was good to have a Dutch companion. Although he didn’t really like my attitude at the beginning, I think. We are two completely different personalities and come from different cities in the Netherlands. I think my Amsterdam arrogance or self-confidence bothered him in the beginning. But it didn’t take long before we became good friends and created a valuable link on the field for PSM Makassar.
We asked Marc a few specific questions about his 3 years at PSM Makassar in Southern Sulawesi.
What’s the difference in the dressing before the game? Did you had problems with the language?
Our trainer did his pep talk in English which was directly translated to Bahasa Indonesia by a staff member. So it was quite easy for me to follow. But to be honest the language of football is the same for everyone. Just before the game, you need to be focused and be willing to win the battle. Actually, only 3 or 4 players at PSM were able to communicate in English. I knew that if want to be successful in Indonesia I need to learn the language as soon as possible.
What’s the best football moment or most memorable game you have played so far?
That has to be the one with my mother and grandma on the tribune in Makassar. I scored my first two goals and we won with 5-1 from Persipura (if I’m right). Until that moment we had never won from them before. It was a very emotional moment for me and my family. I still remember the happiness in my mothers’ eyes that day.
The day we won the cup final is a perfect number two of course! We made history with PSM and the celebrations in the city were awesome.
And how about the ones you don’t want to remember?
There are actually two games I don’t want to be remembered about. Losing at home against Bali United in the last minute in a heavy battle for the championship was horrible. I literally cried after that game on the pitch together with Wiljan Pluim. We should have won that game but somehow we didn’t score. Bali United had a few Dutch players as well at that moment and that made the game even more intense. (Nick van der Velden, Stefano Lilipay, Sylvano Comvalius, and Irfan Bachdim, played for Bali United that season, and they all have roots in the Netherlands)
And a year later we drew in the second-last game of the season. If we had won that game against Bhayangkara we had the chance to become champions at home the week after.
How was your relationship with the Dutch players from Bali United?
The relation was quite intense! We were competing for the championship and everyone wanted to be the best. Even though we all have our roots in the Netherlands we weren’t the best friends. Even outside the pitch, the relations were a bit heated. But isn’t that the beauty of the game? You need to have rivals to get the best out of you and your team-mates.
Have you ever feel scared on or off the pitch?
After the final whistle when we just lost in the last minute against Bali United at home. We knew we had lost the chance to become champion and the supporters were extremely emotional. They entered the field and the scenes were quite impressive. I knew we were their heroes but you never know what emotions do to supporters in Indonesia. Bali United had to take military tanks to escape from the area that night.
During his years in Makassar, Marc became a famous and well-known person in the city. He started a successful coffee-bar, called “Koffie O Klok” and noticed that with his popularity the sky is the limit! After a wonderful and respected time at PSM Makassar, a next move was on the make. With pain in his heart and a big “sorry” to all his passionate fans in the city, he left the place where his success started.
The bigger picture
Although I had everything in Makassar I wanted more! I always had the dream to play for the national team in Indonesia and winning the league was still on my target list. I got in contact with Persija in Jakarta and was able to sign a contract at one of the biggest clubs in Indonesia. Jakarta is about 20 times the size of Amsterdam and it felt great to be back in a big city. Business-wise there are a lot of opportunities in Indonesia’s biggest city and the appearances towards the rest of the world is much better.
Besides the move to the capital and my new contract at Persija, I got in contact with the PSSI (Official Football Association Indonesia). It turned out to be possible to play for the Indonesian national team if I would replace my Dutch passport with an Indonesian one. With an Indonesian passport, I knew I would give up all the benefits from having a Dutch passport, which is one of the best passports in the world but it was the only chance to realize my dream… playing for the Indonesian national team.
So here I am now! Signed a contract at one of the biggest clubs in Indonesia, and next week I will pick up my new Indonesian passport! Ready to shine and motivated like never before! But unfortunately, the league has been delayed due to the COVID-19 virus. So I have to be patient in order to prove myself for the national team and my new club Persija.
The business side of Marc Klok
As if being a popular football player and signing a contract at one of the biggest clubs in Indonesia wasn’t enough. Marc Klok has an entrepreneurial spirit as well! Did you know that Marc started a successful company that helps athletes to recover from injuries? Together with Fabian Sporkslede, he started Amplify about 4 years ago, and nowadays his clients are the world’s biggest football players as Matthijs de Ligt and Philippe Coutinho. They recently added AFC Ajax and Red Bull as new partners and in the last 1,5 years, Amplify has grown enormously.
Marc has sponsor deals with Adidas and is working together with Indonesia’s biggest sports brand SPECS. He owns a Coffee-Bar in Makassar, bought a house close to the beach in Bali, and has its own brand “Marc Klok” (MK). You might think where does it stop, but there is more to come. Keep following his Instagram and you will soon notice that “MK the Label” will launch “MK Protein Bar!.
With the “MK Protein bar” I want to create awareness for the right nutrition and how important this can be to achieve your goals. Right now we are still waiting for some legal documents but we’re hoping to be online soon.
Back to basics – Family & Lifestyle
Never forget the basics! Even though my life has changed rapidly in the last years, being healthy and loved is more important than having success on and off the pitch. Being noticed as a good and loyal person is important to me and I’m aware that not everything is the same for everyone. Living in Indonesia also means giving back to the people who are less fortunate. I will always try to help the people in Indonesia, let’s be honest, they have given me so much in the last years!
We agreed on a special thanks to his parents who aren’t always mentioned but played a very important role in his career.
One last question! If you can add one player to the Persija squad who would you pick?
It has to be my friend and midfield partner from PSM Makassar! Wiljan Pluim.
Awaydays Asia & Marc Klok