Euro 2012: Spotlight on Nigel de Jong
- Fri 01 Jun 2012, 5:45PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
Nigel de Jong will be hoping Holland can go one better than they did at the 2010 World Cup this summer.
Nigel’s foot injury took its toll on his first half of this season and he took a little bit of time to get back into the form he displayed in 2010/11 where he had cemented his reputation as one of the finest defensive midfielders in Europe.
De Jong’s tenacious protection of the defence brings to mind an English bull-terrier let off its leash, crunching into challenges and making crucial interceptions.
Like his role at City, de Jong sacrifices himself for the Dutch collective, his unfussy and industrious play providing the artistic elements of the Dutch team like Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie a platform to shine.
If there’s one area of de Jong’s game that has improved this season, it’s his distribution.
He was always neat and tidy in possession but the speed in which he releases the ball has increased and in those agonising last 10 minutes against QPR on the final day, it was Nigel who collected the ball from Kompany or Lescott to drive into the opposition half and look for the more creative outlets of City’s team.
City fans will also fondly remember his 25-yard pile-driver in the Carling Cup semi-final with Liverpool - which doubled the Dutchman’s goal tally in a City shirt - and his crucial role in the 2-0 win at Newcastle which allowed Yaya Toure to drive forward and score the brace that put the club within touching distance of the title.
Bert Van Marwijk briefly suspended de Jong from international duty after his unfortunate tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa last season but tellingly called him up for the very next squad – a clue as to just what a key member of the Dutch starting XI he has become.
Nigel in action for Holland - who else?
Holland miss on a glorious chance to take the lead against Spain in the 2010 World Cup Final
Nigel in action in South Africa versus Denmark for the 2010 tournament
De Jong has been an intergral part of the Dutch side since 2004
Whether in Orange or black, De Jong and company are a class act
De Jong feels more at home in his club colours when training with the national team
Holland will be among this year's favourites for Euro 2012 - at least if De Jong has anything to do with it!
Nigel does a passable impression of the Statue of Liberty during South Africa 2010
Nigel - the best a man can get...
Nigel shows his flexibility while making a clearance
Come along and enjoy Euro 2012 at City Square, the only outdoor venue in Manchester showing the England matches. We are kicking off with England’s opening match against France on June 11, with City Square open from 2:30pm.
There will be free giveaways from the CityStore and EA, parking is free and The Summerbee Bar, Blue Moon Café and Star Bar will all be open.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for kids and are available now from the box office - advance purchase only.