"Although Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal kept Nigel de Jong waiting a while after having recovered the midfielder did not worry. He was right, because Van Gaal named him in the World Cup squad and also made him a starter."
Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 22 - While Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder gain all the attention, Nigel de Jong has been of crucial importance for the Netherlands in recent years and still is at the World Cup in Brazil.
After the encounter against Australia in Porto Alegre (3-2 win) Robben, who scored one goal, was named Man of the Match. However, Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal did not agree with this choice by the worldwide viewers, reports Xinhua.
I understand that Robben played well, but it would not have been my choice, he said afterwards. Personally I thought Nigel de Jong was our best player.
De Jong didn't really care.
If people say that I should have been Man of the Match that is a nice compliment. But such awards normally go to forwards. I think it's not that important, said De Jong.
The 29-year-old AC Milan player acknowledged that he played a good match in Porto Alegre.
Yes I reached a good level, besides some minor mistakes, he said. As a team we have to play better during ball possession, we are aware of that. We have to be much more secure. When we don't have the ball there is no problem. We hardly got into trouble.
During the World Cup preparation the defensive midfielder already showed that he was in fine form for the tournament in Brasil. He started the World Cup with a good performance in the spectacular opening against Spain (5-1 win). Versus Australia De Jong used some fierce tackles to stop Australia and also to give an example to his team-mates.
Sometimes you have to play hard, De Jong stated. We were too sweet in the first half. They were aggressive on us and conquered for every second ball. That's something the boys on our side also have to learn. Show who you are. After half-time we did well.
De Jong came through the famous Ajax academy and after three-and-a-half years in the first team he moved to German side Hamburger SV. From HSV he was transferred to Manchester City in January 2009 and from City he moved to AC Milan, his current club, in the summer of 2012.
Throughout his career De Jong developed into a tough tackling midfielder, holding the balance for the team, but certainly full of football intelligence as well.
De Jong often explores the limits of admissibility, like in the 2010 World Cup final when he kicked Xabi Alonso on the chest. Despite some criticism on his sometimes tough game he never reacted to those critics in the media.
Everyone can say or write what they think. I rather be silent. There is always criticism, but Nigel de Jong had been a starter in the last four major tournaments of the Dutch team.
De Jong believes he has reached the best period as a professional, having battled back to full fitness in the 2013-14 season following an Achilles injury the season before.
Although Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal kept Nigel de Jong waiting a while after having recovered the midfielder did not worry. He was right, because Van Gaal named him in the World Cup squad and also made him a starter.
You need patience, De Jong said. I always had the trust that I would return to the squad. Now I am stronger than before, both physically and mentally.