De Jong returns to club he secured Europa League: ‘Special place’
De Jong returns to ‘beautiful city’ Seville: ‘Special place in my heart’
“The king of the Europa League.” That’s how PSV coach Ruud van Nistelrooij has called Thursday night’s opponent in the Europa League intermediate round: Sevilla FC.
And that is no exaggeration at all from Van Nistelrooij. Of the past nine seasons, the club from Andalusia won the second European tournament four times. In the last win, in 2020, Luuk de Jong played a starring role. He now returns to Sevilla in the PSV shirt.
The Dutch striker will want to repeat the success of two and a half years ago with his current employer. De Jong said at a press conference today that he remembers that one day in 2020 well. He scored twice in the final against Internazionale (3-2).
But it is not only the final that resonated with De Jong, all of his two years in Sevilla were an experience, according to him. “On the bus I remembered again what a beautiful city it is. The stadium, the climate. Also, my first son was born here. The city continues to have a special place in my heart.”
Clearly, De Jong has fond memories of his time in southern Spain. In Seville, the name De Jong also evokes positive feelings.
For example, with the current captain, Jesus Navas, who gave an assist to the Dutchman in the final. “Luuk is a good person, very nice and he performed great things in Sevilla. I haven’t had contact with him before this match, but I’ll see him tomorrow.”
De Jong agreed that he doesn’t have much contact with his old teammates. He does look forward to seeing again some of the guys he played with. For example, he dealt a lot with Nemanja Gudelj (former player of NAC Breda, AZ and Ajax) and Karim Rekik (former PSV player).
In all likelihood, the former will also play tomorrow. Rekik is injured.
Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli also reflected on De Jong’s successes. “The people in Sevilla will try to thank him for everything he has done at the club. But now he is our opponent and we have to be very alert to neutralize his qualities.”
And De Jong himself did not want to dwell too long on the past, looking forward to Thursday’s match. “It will be a great battle. We are in good shape. We are competing for prizes in all competitions.”
Van Nistelrooij notices that PSV is starting to turn better. But even the Eindhoven coach, who played for Real Madrid for many years, knows that past results are no guarantees for the future.
However, he does know one thing for sure: “It will be an intense match.”