“I want to help improve Dutch football even further”

Nigel Young.Image Getty Images

Tried and tested as a soccer player. Yes of course it is. 81 caps, one World Cup Final, four Finals tournaments and played in three of the four major European competitions with notable clubs. But the role of the director/director? This is still completely unknown. Nigel de Jong is going to do something in the KNVB and he himself does not yet know if he can do it and would like it.

KNVB director Marianne van Leeuwen confirmed on Wednesday that de Jong will in fact become the boss of national coach Ronald Koeman. However, in practice they will essentially work together and De Jong will create the best possible conditions for Koeman to perform with Orange. The same applies to Erwin van de Luig with the Dutch Juniors and Anders Juncker from the Orange Women.

“This is what I want, to help improve the best Dutch football, for men and women,” says De Jong himself of his first job in his second career.

The former midfielder stopped playing football in 2021 (in Qatar) and moved on almost immediately. He started the UEFA International Business Masters, a course for former professionals, and enrolled in the Business Administration course at Harvard University. “I ultimately want to play a leading role within a football organisation. That could be as a CEO, but also as a sporting director or team manager,” De Jong said at the time on the website of his old club Manchester City.

During his football career, he also took managerial steps outside of football. De Jong made a fortune in the exclusive car business. Together with a business partner, he converted an old tennis hall in Hamburg into a showroom and imported luxury cars. “Running my own company, seeing what it entails, I love it,” he said at the time.

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several candidates

KNVB had a vacancy for over a year. In November 2021, Nico Jan Hoogma announced that he will be retiring. The former manager of Football’s Best left last summer. The union has since polled several candidates. Names like Marcel Brands and Earnest Stewart have popped up. No one accepted or viewed him as the right man. The head coach (TD) in the association is not required to be a dealer in players. Sometimes it also played into the hands that the salary of a football manager at Zeist did not match that of a manager at a top club. Preferably, he wanted a Dutch KNVB.

If this can be some kind of super trainer, with a lot of experience, that’s fine. Someone like the late Pim Verbeek probably had the best profile for a position like this. Someone who has their own coaching experience on a national team staff, who then knows what national coaches need at the top and can be a welcome sparring partner. Someone who can also write and implement departmental level policy plans. Verbeek passed away in 2019. His most recent position was as a member of the Board of Directors for Technical Affairs of Sparta.

Marianne van Leeuwen is now the professional football manager at Zeist. Jan Dirk van der Zee heads the amateur football department. Anyone who breathes football is allowed there and Nigel de Jong also brings a network of contacts in that regard. At Zeist, there is now at least someone who can contact Pep Guardiola directly, for example, to voice him as the national coach. Nico Jean Hogma didn’t have such an entrance.

Football technical policy

De Jong will also have to formulate football technical policy on behalf of the KNVB and be the point of contact for professional football clubs – together with Lennard van Ruiven, Director of Football Development and responsible for all national teams under Orange and Young Orange.

In terms of direction, Han Berger seems like a logical mentor. The current KNVB football commissioner also has a long career as a coach and technical director, both at club and association level. In addition, Young would have his own advisers.

Either way, it’s a leap of faith. from both sides. “Nigel has spent the last few years preparing for a managerial position in football. In addition, he has looked behind the scenes at a number of clubs and at UEFA.” “We are convinced that he will soon be able to settle into this new role for him. He will of course receive all the support in this matter.”

The Professional Football Coaches Association CBV also relies on the latter. This club was one of the champions of TD assignment in the KNVB. In 2016, CBV got its way. “We are now again included in the process. We are not surprised. We can agree with this choice,” CBV manager Mario Captain said when asked about De Jong’s appointment.

Nigel de Jong played 96 official matches for Ajax between 2002 and 2006. He then played for Manchester City, AC Milan and LA Galaxy among others.  Image Getty Images

Nigel de Jong played 96 official matches for Ajax between 2002 and 2006. He then played for Manchester City, AC Milan and LA Galaxy among others.Image Getty Images

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