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De Jong's dream comes true at Twente

Published: Saturday 11 December 2010, 15.00CET
"Everything goes so fast," Luuk de Jong, 20, told UEFA.com as he reflected on a year in which he helped FC Twente win the Eredivisie and scored his first UEFA Champions League goal.
by Berend Scholten
Published: Saturday 11 December 2010, 15.00CET

De Jong's dream comes true at Twente

"Everything goes so fast," Luuk de Jong, 20, told UEFA.com as he reflected on a year in which he helped FC Twente win the Eredivisie and scored his first UEFA Champions League goal.

Name: Luuk de Jong
Club:
FC Twente
Debut: 7 November 2008 (for De Graafschap) v NAC Breda (Eredivisie)
Position: Forward or attacking midfielder
Nationality: Dutch
Date of birth: 27 August 1990

As a young boy you always watched the Champions League; you always sat in front of the TV on Tuesday and Wednesday
Luuk de Jong
But young players sometimes have moments when all at once they suddenly make huge progress. De Jong made that step forward at the start of this season
Michel Preud'homme

Sport is in the De Jong family's DNA. Luuk's parents were both Dutch volleyball internationals and moved from Switzerland to the Netherlands to play the game professionally when Luuk was four. Luuk's brother Siem, one year his senior, plays for AFC Ajax.

Ask De Jong about playing in the UEFA Champions League and he readily admits he almost has to pinch himself to believe it. After making his Eredvisie debut in November 2008 at De Graafschap, he joined Twente last season and having played his part (two goals in 12 games) in helping the Tukkers to their first national title, now finds himself up against Europe's top defences. And the Dutch Under-21 international has more than held his own.

At 188cm he is a handful in the air, scoring his first UEFA Champions League goal with a header against SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 4, and his strength on the ball is invaluable to help bring team-mates into play. The arrival of striker Marc Janko in the summer might have signalled De Jong's first-team opportunities would be restricted, but to the contrary, he has proved his versatility by adapting his game to become an integral part of coach Michel Preud'homme's side. With Janko used as a target man, De Jong has played as an attacking midfielder, but the goals keep coming, seven in Twente's title defence so far.

Breakthrough game
AFC Ajax 0-1 FC Twente
31 July 2010, Dutch Super Cup
Up against his brother in the curtain-raiser to the Dutch season it was Luuk that had the last laugh by scoring the only goal of the game. After eight minutes he pounced on a misplaced pass by Maarten Stekelenburg and burst into the area before chipping the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. Having made the most of his chance to impress new coach Preud'homme, De Jong has not looked back since.

He says:
"Everything goes so fast. Suddenly you're playing in the Champions League. I never dreamed of that as a small child. Sometimes you pinch yourself to see if it's true. As a young boy you always watched the Champions League; you always sat in front of the TV on Tuesday and Wednesday. Now to play in it is simply fantastic."

"I never looked at Siem's development with a jealous eye. It was more a feeling of pride. Indeed, Siem's development opened my eyes and motivated me. I saw what was possible by working very hard and investing in yourself."
On seeing brother Siem break into the Ajax first team

"I'm a striker and I will stay a striker. Now I'm playing as a No10 but I prefer to play in the striker's position and focus on that. I'm often used as a No10 and for my development that is very good, as it means I will know as a striker what the player behind me thinks and does."
On adapting to a new role following Janko's arrival

They say:
"I don't know who is the better player and that is not important. I would love to play alongside him. He would be the ideal striker for me as a No10 to play with; strong in ball possession."
Siem de Jong

"It wasn't really a surprise for me to see Luuk do so well because I had already seen what a terrific player he is on DVDs from last season. But young players sometimes have moments when all at once they suddenly make huge progress. De Jong made that step forward at the start of this season."
Twente coach Michel Preud'homme

"Luuk de Jong up front is always moving, always working for the team, offensively but he also does his job defensively."
Midfielder Theo Janssen

Last updated: 03/01/11 2.07CET

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