Inessa Kaagman revealed her relief after Holland finally qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The Dutch were cruising in qualifying before a late hiccup saw Norway pip them to top spot, forcing Kaagman's side into the play-offs.
Once there, they were drawn with Denmark, a side Holland overcame in the European Championships final in 2017. A 4-1 aggregate success saw the Dutch set up a clash with Switzerland for a place at the World Cup and, on Tuesday, they secured qualification with a 1-1 draw after a 3-0 victory in the home leg.
Kaagman, who was an unused substitute for both legs against the Swiss, admits the relief was palpable around the LIPO Park Schaffhausen – before the celebrations started in earnest.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking, but we have finally made it to the World Cup,” she said. “The second leg was so tense and close because we got a red card after five minutes. But we scored in the second half and that meant Switzerland needed five and we felt like the job was done by that point.
“The dressing room was fantastic after the match. We were all doing the ‘polonaise’ – what we call the conga – and singing lots of songs, jumping around and screaming.
“We had a tough ask in the play-offs but winning these games gives us huge confidence going into the World Cup next summer. When you play really good teams and you win, it gives you belief. I have seen that some have said that we are among the favourites but we won’t put any pressure on ourselves. We are just happy we are qualified.
“We know there will be expectations on us but we will go there, do our thing and see where it goes.”
Having been called up for Holland for the first time in August, Kaagman is still awaiting her first senior appearance for her country.
But, with an opportunity to play in the World Cup up for grabs, she is eager to prove herself over the rest of the season to show why she deserves to make the squad for France.
“I know I haven’t played yet but for both legs against Switzerland I was on the bench instead of the stands,” she added. “That was a whole new feeling – of course you feel a part of the team when you are watching but when you are a substitute you always feel like you have to be ready because you might get on.
“Everyone has been really good to me since I came into the squad and it feels great to be a part of it. I felt settled straight away.
“I have six or seven months now to make sure I am in that 23-player squad for the tournament. I hope to get my first cap next year. But I know I just have to be patient and try my best.”
Kaagman is back in domestic action for Everton this Sunday against Arsenal. Tickets are available online here. Kids go FREE at the game, kick-off 12.30pm.