Nigel de Jong
De Jong with the Netherlands national team in 2011
|Full name||Nigel de Jong|
|Date of birth||30 November 1984|
|Place of birth||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 27 November 2016.
Nigel de Jong (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnɑjdʒəl də ˈjɔŋ]; born 30 November 1984) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Turkish club Galatasaray and the Netherlands national team. He joined the Ajax youth academy as a youngster and worked his way through the ranks to make the first team at age 17. Two years later, in 2004, he made his international debut. Additionally, in 2010 he won a World Cup runners-up medal.
De Jong moved on from Ajax in 2006 to join Hamburg in search of first team football and then moved to Manchester City in January 2009 for an estimated £18 million, where he became an important part of City's holding midfield. A tireless grafter, he has garnered a reputation of being a combative and feisty player in his performances, a reputation that has earned him nicknames such as "The Destroyer" and "Lawnmower". He moved to Italian side Milan in August 2012 where he spent three and half years, before moving to LA Galaxy in February 2016.
On 19 October 2002, De Jong made his debut for the Ajax first team. He scored his first goal of his senior career on 18 February 2003 in a 1–1 draw against Arsenal in the Champions League. He became a first team regular the following season, in which Ajax won the Eredivisie title. In 2004–05, his last full season in Amsterdam, De Jong was named Ajax Player of the Season. After a period when he appeared regularly in midfield, he found himself sitting on the bench more often than being in the starting line-up. On 7 December 2005, it was announced that De Jong did not wish to extend his contract with Ajax, which was due to end in July 2006.
On 26 January 2006, De Jong signed a four and a half-year contract at German Bundesliga club Hamburg, the transfer fee approximately €1 million. At Hamburg he joined two other Dutchmen: Rafael van der Vaart and Khalid Boulahrouz. He made his Hamburg debut two days later in a 2–1 defeat at Nuremberg. In March 2006, De Jong scored the winning goal in Bayern Munich's first ever defeat at the Allianz Arena. The following week he received the first red card of his career for a second booking in a UEFA Cup match against Rapid Bucharest. His season was cut short in April, when he required surgery on a knee problem. The injury also kept him out of the Dutch squad for the 2006 World Cup, though he was later put on standby after regaining fitness.
On 21 January 2009, De Jong was signed to Manchester City for an estimated fee of £18 million by manager Mark Hughes who deployed him in the role of midfield enforcer in a team whose defence badly needed reinforcement. He signed a four-and-a-half-year contract. and was assigned the number 34 shirt. He made his debut for the club against Newcastle United on 28 January 2009. He made sixteen appearances in the Premier League over the second half of the season.
De Jong was given a start against Arsenal on 12 September 2009. He was named Man of the Match by Sky Sports in a 2–1 win over Chelsea on 5 December 2009. By the end of the season he had become a firm fans' favourite as well as being one of new manager Roberto Mancini's first picks as defensive midfielder as the team narrowly missed out on a Champions League berth. De Jong scored his first goal for Manchester City in a 2–1 victory against West Ham United on 1 May 2011.
On 31 August 2012, De Jong joined Italian side Milan for £3.5 million rising to £5 million depending on appearances, signing a three-year deal. On 1 September 2012, De Jong made his debut against Bologna. De Jong scored his first goal for Milan in a 3–2 loss against Lazio on 20 October 2012.
On 26 June 2015, Milan announced De Jong had signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2018.
On 31 January 2016, it was reported that De Jong had negotiated to terminate his contract with Milan and joined LA Galaxy on a free transfer, signing a one-year deal. De Jong was involved in a controversial incident in a game against the Portland Timbers on 10 April 2016 when a strong tackle by De Jong left Darlington Nagbe injured and in need of treatment. De Jong was only shown a yellow card by referee Allen Chapman, but was later suspended for three games. De Jong received a red-card after a bad tackle on Blas Perez on 5 July 2016, although with a man down, the Galaxy was still able to hold on the for win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
On 31 March 2004, De Jong made his debut with the Netherlands in a friendly game against France. He was overlooked for the squad that went to play in UEFA Euro 2004, and missed the 2006 FIFA World Cup with a knee injury.
He was selected by Marco van Basten to play for the Oranje at UEFA Euro 2008. During the tournament, he was played as a "screening midfielder", partnering with Orlando Engelaar in central midfield. This resulted in De Jong playing three out of the four games that saw the Netherlands reach the quarter-final stage, where they lost to Russia.
De Jong was part of the Dutch team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup managed by Bert van Marwijk. The player was in the starting line-up for their first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark. He was suspended in the semi-final against Uruguay after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament in the Netherlands' quarter-final win over Brazil. He played in the Final of the competition, which the Netherlands lost 1–0 to Spain after extra time. In the early stages of the match, De Jong made a chest high challenge on Xabi Alonso, with his studs making contact with the Spaniard's ribs. Referee Howard Webb later stated that he would have sent off De Jong if he'd had a better view of the incident.
De Jong was part of the Netherlands UEFA Euro 2012 squad. The Dutch were eliminated in the first round after losing all three matches.
He was also selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he was in the starting line-up for all three group matches. However, a groin injury led to his substitution in the 9th minute of the Round of 16 match win over Mexico and it was later confirmed the De Jong would be unable to take any further part in the tournament. Despite this, he later recovered to play 62 minutes of the semi-final against Argentina.
Scores list Netherlands' tally first.
|1.||6 June 2009||Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland||Iceland||
||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|
Style of play
De Jong began his career as a creative midfielder or forward. At Ajax he played a number of positions, including central midfield and right wing. De Jong credits his conversion to a defensive-minded player to Huub Stevens, under whom he played at Hamburg. His new approach earned him the nickname "der Rasenmäher" ("the Lawnmower"). De Jong is typically the most defensively oriented midfielder in his team. When his team's defenders are in possession of the ball, De Jong will often drop back towards them to receive it. Sometimes De Jong is the sole holding midfielder, but often he plays alongside another defensive player, such as Gareth Barry at Manchester City or Mark van Bommel for the Dutch national team. De Jong had the highest passing completion percentage in the Premier League in the 2010–11 season out of the top 50 players (90%).
During an international friendly on 3 March 2010, De Jong fractured the leg of Bolton Wanderers' American international Stuart Holden as the result of a late challenge. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final he kicked Spanish player Xabi Alonso in the chest, a challenge for which De Jong admitted he was lucky not to have received a red card. On 3 October 2010, in a Premier League match against Newcastle United, a tackle by De Jong on Hatem Ben Arfa resulted in the latter being carried off the pitch with a double fracture of his left tibia and fibula. De Jong was later dropped from the Dutch national team for an unspecified period of time, but has since been reprieved. In April 2016 while playing for the LA Galaxy De Jong was involved in another controversial incident when a strong takedown led to Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe being removed from the field with an injury. The tackle led to a 3-game suspension for De Jong after the disciplinary committee determined the action to have been, “a clear and unequivocal red card.” De Jong however has never been shown a red card during his time at Manchester City. To date the only red card De Jong has been shown in his professional career was a sending off for two bookable offences in a match for Hamburg against Rapid Bucharest in the 2005–06 edition of the UEFA Cup.
In December 2013, Spanish football website El Gol Digital ranked De Jong tenth in its list of the world's dirtiest footballers. This style of play earned him a title as the most violent footballer in the world, according to French newspaper L'Équipe.
De Jong is married to Winonah, with whom he has two children. His father is former Dutch international Jerry de Jong.
He owns a specialist car dealership operating in Europe and the Middle East.
- Manchester City
- FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 2010
- FIFA World Cup Third Place: 2014
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- Bossi, Dominic (12 December 2013). "Kevin Muscat named football's dirtiest player". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- Newman, Benjamin (28 December 2015). "Chelsea & Man City men in the most hated list, Cristiano Ronaldo & Zlatan Ibrahimovic most arrogant by L'Equipe". 101greatgoals.com. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Nigel de Jong profile at Soccerway
- Includes one appearance in the FA Community Shield
- "de Jong, Nigel". National Football Teams. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- "Nigel de Jong Signs Deal to Wear Puma Boots". FootballBoots.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
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