Siem De Jong has opened up about his bout of freak injuries on Tyneside – where he almost lost his sight – and has reinstated his desire to be a success at the club in a fascinating interview with the Daily Mail’s Craig Hope.
The Dutchman arrived at St James’ Park as a title-winning captain and one of his country’s biggest stars when he joined from Ajax in a £6million deal three years ago and was considered to be a real coup for the club, having bagged 78 goals from 244 appearances in the Eredivisie.
Here’s what he had to say firstly about his freak injuries on Tyneside, reflecting on the moment he feared for his sight:
‘The injuries have been unlucky, I could not have prevented them, they are more health issues really – but I wish my story here had been different.’
‘The incident with my eye was scary. It was in training. I was stood behind Manu (Riviere) and he wanted to turn. He tried to hold me back and his finger went straight in my eye, the full force.’
‘At the hospital I couldn’t see. I was concerned I would lose my sight, especially on that first day.’
‘After a few hours I got a little bit of blurred vision back. I had to get laser treatment. It wasn’t just an eye injury, my retina had detached as well.’
‘I feared for my career. If you can’t see with one eye you can’t play. Eventually you would get used to it and you would be able to do almost everything – but I don’t think it would have helped my football.’
De Jong barely missed a minute of football at Ajax, helping his side to four successive Eredivisie titles before a move to Tyneside. Things soon took a twist for the Dutchman upon his arrival in 2014 however, and he has reflected upon this difficult period of his career:
‘My career changed – I used to play 40 to 50 games a year. After that I suffered a lot of small muscle injuries.’
‘Perhaps I underestimated it, because you don’t feel injured afterwards, except for losing quite a bit of weight.
‘But it cost me three years of my career, right in the middle. It was not good timing.’
The then 25-year old spent the first five months of his Newcastle career recovering from a torn thigh muscle and was just days away from a return when his lung collapsed for a second time. When reflecting upon this, he said:
‘At least now I was more prepared, so that is why I had the full operation, the whole lung got stuck back on.
‘I wanted to be sure and I’ve had no problems since.’
Finally, De Jong spoke about his plans for the future, revealing that he feels better than ever before and has every intention of becoming a success at St. James’ Park:
‘I will talk to the manager because I want to prove myself at Newcastle, I still feel I haven’t started here,’
‘It bothers me that I haven’t been able to do that. I don’t want to be in the news for negative reasons. I want to be known as Siem de Jong the footballer, not the injured footballer.’
‘I still feel like I have a lot to give. I’m 28, I’m at a good age and I feel better than I ever was, but I need to get back to playing 40 games a year.
‘I believe I can get back to the level I was at when I was 24 – and I want to do that here.’
A fascinating interview and superb insight into Siem’s torrid time at NUFC. He speaks well and comes across as a very intelligent and humble guy who only has eyes for success at Newcastle.
Things haven’t gone to plan for him, but he sounds hungrier than ever – a man on a mission to succeed – and appears to be in good shape and in good spirits.
After a rotten bout of bad luck, we sincerely hope he gets his chance next season and becomes the player we all hoped he could be for Newcastle United.
Here’s hoping we see more moments of magic like this over the coming season from the midfield maestro: