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Nigel de Jong
Season 2010/11

Nigel enjoys being a clockwork orange

  • 24 June 2010 10:07
  • Posted by David Clayton

Nigel de Jong says he is happy to play the ‘servant’ role in the Dutch side if it means helping his country in their bid to win the World Cup.

City’s midfield enforcer believes Holland’s thirst for Total Football means his job in the  team’s ‘engine room’ won’t grab as many headlines as some members of the Oranje squad, but that suits him just fine.

“In Holland, combative midfielders aren’t developed,” he said. “It’s more a case of they happen to find themselves in that position, because they are obviously needed.

“The appreciation for this role is huge in England. I was a bit invisible in Germany, at Hamburg. In England I’ve been the Man of the Match a number of times already.

It’s amazing that the people in England appreciate my type, but the City fans really enjoy and applaud a good tackle

...Nigel de Jong

A few years ago, Johan Cruyff, no less, commented that he felt de Jong has more to his game than just crunching tackles, suggesting that he had plenty of technical ability and vision in his locker, too.

“And I haven’t lost that!” he laughed. “You can’t play in Oranje if you don’t have that. But I’m currently developing myself for the holding position. It’s not that easy. Some people think it’s all about physical strength, but you have to read the game well.

“You need great vision, too. The good holding midfielders are the ones who made it look simple. One touch football, quick tackles, closing down space - it’s an art and I love it.

“I’ve got much more power now than I had when I played in Holland. Playing in England does that to you. I sometimes think I need an oxygen tent!

“I grew up in our culture and I never really thought about it. Now I play abroad, I can see how unique our football culture is. We want perfection, results and good football.

“I’ve been playing abroad now for six years and I’ve come to appreciate the other cultures as well, like winning without playing particularly well.

“In England, winning is everything – it doesn’t matter how. But that’s simply not how we think, live and breathe football. And we will simply need to accept that.”

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