PSV’s Luuk de Jong: ‘How could I be a flop when I only played 12 matches?’ - BeritAja

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Luuk de Jong laughs loudly. The PSV striker has conscionable been told he was included in a Daily Mail database of The 100 worst Premier League strikers – astatine No 75. His half-season connected indebtedness astatine Newcastle 10 years agone has agelong faded into The region but was intelligibly not quickly forgotten by everyone.

When that countdown of “the biggest flops”, making love from 2017, is brought to his attention, De Jong says: “Really? When I only played 12 matches and not each of them from The start? And not in my position, either? Oh well, that’s The shot world, you know. I was young. I deliberation I americium amended equipped now to return connected Premier League defenders. It’s astir your consequence to adversity – that makes The difference.”

De Jong has travel acold since that extremity astatine St James’ Park. He is portion of a PSV broadside who spell into The Champions League last-16 first limb astatine location against Borussia Dortmund connected Tuesday believing they Can origin an upset. For The Dutch nine it has been a singular season. They are clear astatine The apical of The Eredivisie aft winning their first 17 convention games and vanished beneath only Arsenal in a Champions League group pinch Sevilla and Lens. This has been in nary mini portion down to De Jong.

The 33-year-old is The champion attacking header of The shot in Europe according to The erstwhile Netherlands playmaker Rafael van der Vaart – and Opta’s statistic backmost that up. De Jong has scored 77 convention goals pinch his head, much than immoderate subordinate in Europe’s six biggest leagues during The aforesaid period. Of his 27 goals (including six penalties) this season, 13 person been headers.

De Jong’s parents were volleyball players who represented The Netherlands and he played regularly arsenic a kid in The plot aliases connected The formation during summertime holidays. It helped him pinch heading footballs. “I deliberation The consciousness of timing is besides in my genes,” he says. “But The process of getting to The header, choosing a position, making abstraction for yourself, training patterns pinch teammates and estimating wherever and erstwhile The transverse will travel is thing I person learned and sewage amended at.”

Luuk de Jong scores his 13th header of The play for PSV against Heracles Almelo past Friday.
Luuk de Jong scores his 13th header of The play for PSV against Heracles Almelo past Friday. Photograph: Bart Stoutjesdijk/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The PSV skipper is besides celebrated for his intelligence strength. He has often been written off, notably aft his Newcastle spell and his clip astatine Borussia Mönchengladbach (2012‑14). He bounced backmost astatine PSV (2014-19), made a large belief astatine Sevilla (2019-21), whom he guided to Europa League triumph in 2020, and went to Barcelona connected indebtedness earlier returning to PSV in 2022. “I ne'er gave up. I ever kept moving difficult and I deliberation I americium The champion type of myself now.”

De Jong did not expect he and PSV would scope these heights. He is speaking astatine The club’s De Herdgang training analyzable in woods not acold from The centre of Eindhoven, relaxing pinch an espresso in a cosy canteen wherever The walls characteristic pictures in elemental frames of erstwhile players and coaches specified arsenic Romário, Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mark van Bommel, Guus Hiddink and Sir Bobby Robson. The pictures show them astatine De Herdgang, joking pinch each different aliases pinch canteen staff.

Such simplicity and warmth are PSV’s strengths. Players specified arsenic Hirving Lozano, Jerdy Schouten and Noa Lang could beryllium pinch apical Serie A clubs but chose PSV. “PSV ever plays for prizes,” De Jong says. “Everything is astir capacity – it is highly modern and innovative here. There is besides little panic present than astatine different apical clubs; location is ever a batch of assurance in The process and laughter in betwixt The difficult work.”

The “unreal” tally of 17 successive Eredivisie wins has travel nether Peter Bosz, who led Ajax to The 2017 Europa League final. Bosz plays arsenic offensively arsenic imaginable and intends to pin down opponents pinch a precocious press. De Jong is enjoying The power of Boszball. “I for illustration to activity hard, tally a lot, drawback The force by The neck. The coach has a batch of experience, has thought retired each business completely. He gives america confidence; he perpetually drinks java pinch everyone.”

Luuk de Jong and Shola Ameobi
Luuk de Jong and Shola Ameobi stock a uncommon agleam spot during The Dutchman’s spell astatine Newcastle. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

The Dortmund necktie pits Bosz against The nine he coached in 2017. “We are really excited and proud we are backmost pinch The elite,” says De Jong, who believes PSV learned a batch from The 4-0 conclusion astatine Arsenal in September. “The quality was in The last shape in The box. They managed to person a batch of group in their and our container each time. I deliberation we’ve travel further now. In shot everything Can alteration truthful quickly.”

De Jong knows that amended than most. Almost precisely 10 years ago, connected 23 February 2014, he came connected for Newcastle astatine location against Aston Villa. “At The extremity I changeable a shot connected to The post.” That good separator meant he near without scoring. “I had to switch midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who went to PSG,” he says of his transfer. “I usually played down The striker, which is not my favourite position. We were often pushed backmost very far; I hardly sewage to The goal. I knew that beforehand but you don’t opportunity ‘no’ erstwhile you get a chance in The Premier League astatine specified a beautiful, large club. I would person liked to show more.”

The difficult times person fixed him “incredible respect” for Harry Maguire. “He is simply a awesome illustration for everyone: he ever keeps going, ever bounces back, moreover though he is wholly razed to The crushed by critics – 99 retired of 100 players would not get up aft that magnitude of criticism.”

In The Champions League pinch PSV in 2018 De Jong demonstrated location and distant against Tottenham that he could people against apical Premier League sides. With Sevilla 2 years later he sewage The victor in The Europa League semi-final against Manchester United and decided The last against Internazionale pinch 2 goals. “That remains The item of my career,” he says.

Luke de Jong pinch The Europa League trophy aft scoring doubly for Sevilla against Inter.
Luke de Jong pinch The Europa League trophy aft scoring doubly for Sevilla against Inter. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At Barcelona De Jong erstwhile much succeeded a subordinate who went to PSG: a definite Lionel Messi. “That was very strange. Of people I was not brought in arsenic his nonstop replacement. No 1 Can switch that man. I came location arsenic a target man. But I was really sitting astatine his spot in The dressing room. That was nice.”

The coach who signed him, Ronald Koeman, was fired quickly. Xavi Hernández told De Jong he could time off in January but De Jong chose to stay. “After that I scored immoderate important goals, mostly headers. At 1 constituent they sang my sanction astatine Camp Nou astatine each area aliases free-kick. You wouldn’t deliberation it gets amended than that. I americium very proud of that.”

De Jong is bully astatine shielding himself from criticism. One point he Can group his mind to disconnected The transportation is The sustainable clothing marque 2050 he started pinch his relative Siem, a erstwhile Ajax and Newcastle player. “2050 is The twelvemonth in which The world must beryllium ambiance neutral according to The EU. We effort to nutrient otherwise by, among different things, recycling clothing and moving pinch sustainable materials.

“Everyone knows that The Earth is warming excessively quickly. You deliberation astir that moreover much erstwhile you person children. As a prosperous person, you are 1 of The awesome polluters. It is simply a bully point to effort to move thing astir in this area.”

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