De Jong jaded after watching brief

NIGEL DE JONG sweated his way through the hardest game of his career on Tuesday night – and he was not even playing.

De Jong was a helpless spectator in Cape Town, having been ruled out of the Netherlands’ World Cup semi-final with Uruguay through suspension.

Thankfully for the Man City star, the Dutch emerged triumphant thanks to second-half goals from Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, and he can now look forward to the game of his life at Soccer City on Sunday.

But the chances are, no matter how the contest works out, De Jong will not expend as much energy as he did on Tuesday night.

“That was the hardest game I have ever been involved in,” said De Jong.

“I am more tired than all the other guys in the dressing room put together. “I was so nervous. I was missing the semi-final of the World Cup because I had picked up two yellow cards.

“It made it a very stressful night.

“But the guys did a terrific job. They made it possible for me to play in a World Cup final.”

Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst has admitted he could hardly have dreamed that his last competitive match would be the World Cup final.

The former Arsenal, Rangers and Barcelona defender will retire after Sunday’s final, after playing a massive part in getting the Dutch side there.

The 35-year-old not only smashed in what was arguably the best goal of his career to give the Netherlands the lead, but also headed a shot off the line to deny Uruguay.

Van Bronckhorst, who played his final three seasons for Feyenoord, said: “There were no tears, just joy. The last game in my career a World Cup final, what can you say? It couldn’t be more beautiful. For everyone, it will be the game of their life.”


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