He’s the Eredivisie’s most improved player. Luuk De Jong (21) lived “in the shadow” of his high-achieving older brother Siem (23) some seasons ago but in the last 24 months he has gained recognition on the local and international scene moving from Jong Oranje’s 3rd choice striker behind Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon) and 2011/2012 Eredivisie topscorer with 32 goals, Bas Dost (now at VfL Wolfsburg) to become one of Oranje’s main strikers. De Jong is now one of the most sought after players in European football, Borussia Monchengladbach and Newcastle United being the latest sides to be linked with a move. But FC Twente boss Steve McClaren has warned sides they will have to pay ‘stupid money’ to tempt the Enschede club to sell their diamond, a player who could have easily be swayed to become a volleyball star if he hadn’t moved back to the Netherlands.
THE BOY FROM AIGLE
For the De Jong Family, sport is in the blood. Born in Aigle in Hôpital Du Chablais, Switzerland, Luuk gew up in ski village Leysin with his family. His parents are two ex-Dutch volleyball players who played professionally. Luuk De Jong’s parents were well known volleyball stars in the 70′s and 80′s. His mother, Loekie Raterink, earned over 90 caps for the Dutch Volleyball national team whilst his father, George De Jong, played 35 times for the Dutch national team.
George moved to Switzerland with his wife because he saw it as an opportunity to become a player-coach at Zurich. A year later, he was coaching the Junior team and the 1st team with whom he won the Swiss Championship on six occasions.
George De Jong was the technical director of the World Volleyball Federation (FIVB) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He quit his job in 1994 because he could not see eye to eye with then FIVB President Dr Rubén Acosta,the authoritative Mexican and thus moved the De Jong family moved back to the Netherlands in 1995 when Luuk was four years old, and his brother Siem, six years old. Ironically, Luuk De Jong has to thank Dr Rubén Acosta for his football career because if not for him, his father might have never returned to the Netherlands and his football career never realized.
Mr Jizhong Wei of China became the third President in the history of the FIVB in 2008 following the retirement of Dr Rubén Acosta after 24 years as FIVB boss.
BACK TO DOETINCHEM
The family moved back to Doetinchem, a city and municipality in the east of the Netherlands. Both brothers started their football careers with Doetinchem amateur side, DZC’68. They were both recruited by De Graafschap. While Siem impressed with his ability and awareness with the ball at his feet, Luuk did not seem to possess the talent to make it to the top. However he was always at the right place at the right time to put the ball at the back of the net. Siem joined Ajax while Luuk stayed with the club.
Luuk De Jong may have suffered relegation from the Eredivisie with first club De Graafschap (2008/09), in which he struck his first goal, against Twente in a 2-2 draw but he did enough to earn a move to FC Twente in 2009 and, he has scored 59 goals in 119 games in all competitions for the club. In the 2011/12 league season he has notched a very impressive 25 goals in 32 games, including efforts with his left foot, right foot and head. He scored twice in 14 Eredivisie duels for the Super Boeren.
ENSCHEDE’S STAR MAN
He moved to Enschede in summer 2009, aged 18, but was not an integral member of the Twente side that won the 2009/10 Eredivisie title under Steve McClaren, making just three starts, nine appearances as a substitute and scoring two goals. He did not enjoy the best of starts in Enschede because he was Blaise Nkufo’s understudy. De Jong scored his first Eredivisie goal for FC Twente in the home game against NEC.
De Jong was far more involved under new boss Michel Preud’homme in 2010/11, scoring 12 goals in the Eredivisie, another four in Europe (1 in the UEFA Champions League and 3 in the Europa League) and helping Twente come from behind to beat Ajax 3-2 in the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) final. Luuk scored 3 times in that competition. Early on that season, he scored the winning goal against Ajax in the Johan Cruijff Schaal (Dutch Super Cup), thus scoring in every competition that FC Twente played in that season.
Luuk was responsible for almost one-third of Twente’s 82 Eredivisie goals last season, recording career-best figures of 25 goals in 32 games as the Tukkers finished sixth. Luuk De Jong scored 10 goals in six consecutive games fom 10 December 2011 against Nijmegen and ending on 10 February 2012 with a brace against Heracles. The run also included a hat-trick against FC Groningen, while the longest he had gone without scoring last season was four matches. He netted 32 times in 50 games last season. Last season, Luuk de Jong scored 9 Eredivisie goals with his head, more than any other player in the league. Luuk has scored 25 goals this season,12 more than his brother Siem de Jong.
Luuk de Jong has overtaken his sibling in the Oranje pecking order, making two substitute appearances in EURO 2012 qualifying and scoring in the 2-0 win in Finland.
He made his international debut for the Netherlands in their 3-1 win against Austria in February 2011 at the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, replacing Fenerbahçe’s Dirk Kuyt. De Jong was part of Holland’s Euro 2012 squad but did not feature in Oranje’s disastrous Euro campaign.
I am relieved van Marwijk has gone. The likes of Heitinga and co. also have to go. The Dutch have to look to the next generation. The current Jong Oranje team is the best I’ve ever seen with the likes of Jeroen Zoet (RKC Waalwijk on loan from PSV), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburger SV – on loan on loan from Chelsea) Jetro Willems (PSV), Adam Maher (AZ), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse), Leroy Fer (FC Twente), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord) and Ola John (Benfica). It’s even better than the 2007 Euro Under 21 team. It’s Luuk de Jong’s time to make an impression in the Oranje shirt between now and Euro 2016.
Luuk has attracted the interest of a number of top teams with his outstanding performances in the Eredivisie. Newcastle have sent a delegation over to Enschede in Holland to try and tie up a deal for Luuk de Jong. Magpies boss Alan Pardew has been chasing the 21-year-old for some time and saw a recent £8million bid rejected. But with managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley jetting over to Holland this week, it is thought a £10m fee has been agreed. However, Newcastle’s bid to sign him is being threatened by German club Borussia Monchengladbach. The Magpies have not given up hope of landing FC Twente star’s and more talks are set to take place between the Dutch club and Derek Llambias, who is in Holland, over the next 24 hours.
FC Twente are said to be demanding £15m, and Steve McLaren insists Toon must pay “stupid money’’ to land De Jong.
Moenchengladbach yesterday briefed the German media that they believed a bid of £9million, plus some add-ons depending on appearances had been accepted by FC Twente and the player would agree a four-year deal with the Bundesliga side pending a medical. But I think Luuk, who is capable of playing as a central striker or in a wider role will join Newcastle as Demba Ba looks set to move to Turkey. If Newcastle do secure his services it would be a fine addition to an ever improving squad with Luuk De Jong, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa competing for front roles.
Like Think Football on Facebook for more updates: https://www.facebook.com/thinkingfootball