Belgian newspaper DH run a profile each day on a specific member of the Belgium national team leading up to the 2016 Euros start on Friday, and Sunday’s man was centre-back Jan Vertonghen.
Earlier today, we covered the story from Belgium the player helped fund his first football team’s new changing rooms by auctioning off some of his and his teammates’ football memorabilia.
Well, the player’s love for Tielrode in Belgium ran so deep that he almost jeopardised his chance at becoming a professional footballer by refusing to move elsewhere.
Speaking to DH, the player’s former manager, Jurgen Maes, who still manages Tielrode to this day, explained what happened.
He said: “He just wanted to play for the Tielrode first-team with his brothers. It was his wish from when he was a kid. All the players want to become professional footballer, but with Jan, it was far from a concrete idea. Football was just a hobby.”
Maes explained that Vertonghen didn’t particularly want to go to a bigger club, and when Germinal Beerschot came calling, the youngster nearly refused.
After a bit of persuading from his parents, the player eventually moved to the Jupiler Pro League club to continue his education both on and off the pitch, which then led to his move to Ajax three years later.
395 professional games, 75 Belgium caps, two Eredivisie titles later with some Champions League football under his belt and a starting spot in Tottenham’s line-up, we think he made the right choice.
There may be a chance one day for Vertonghen to fulfil his original dream, with Maes adding: “The three brothers have always said they wanted to play together in the first team. This is our dream also.”
Maybe one day.