INTERVIEWS Last weekend, Jan Vertonghen gave a big interview to Het Laatste Nieuws, partner newspaper of the Belgian Football Federation. The defender talked about his ankle injury, his choice for Anderlecht and a possible farewell.
On his ankle injury: "Pain is one thing, making it worse something else."
Vertonghen talks about how his ankle bothered him last season starting in January. As a result, six months ago he did not feel good in his skin and doubted about continuing. "Missing the playoffs was a stroke of luck. That long break did me good," he refers to the fact that Anderlecht finished at the end of April. Vertonghen says it allowed him to work on that ankle and that it is now feeling good again. "Except for last week," he laughs.
The question many were asking over the past week: did Vertonghen do well to play against Gent? "I sought advice from four doctors: two at Anderlecht and two from the national team," Vertonghen said. "Pain is one thing, making it worse is something completely different. According to them, 'normally' I wouldn't make it worse. If you can tolerate the pain, you can play. That was the case."
Vertonghen says he wants to play every game, both at Anderlecht and with the national team. "I feel responsible for the people of Anderlecht. So when I can, I play."
On his choice of Anderlecht: "Familial and sportwise now super happy."
Vertonghen also looks back on his transfer from Benfica to Anderlecht. That one was emotionally difficult because his family had to move overnight. "But now I can say: I made a fantastic choice." Vertonghen sees he his wife and children have found their niche in Belgium and feels fine himself at Anderlecht.
"We really have a cool group. These days I'm having a lot of fun in soccer. The most in years at club level. You also see that on the field, I think," Vertonghen said. "Both athletically and family-wise I'm super happy at the moment."
On quitting soccer: "Don't want to have to go back on decision"
Vertonghen still has a contract with Anderlecht until the end of this season. He already announced that he would decide in the early spring whether he would stop or continue. Why only then? "If I make a decision, I don't want to have to go back to it," Vertonghen said. He says Anderlecht should therefore not come up with a new contract in December or January. "I really need time to make the decision that is right for myself and my family." Vertonghen says his decision will also depend on any physical discomfort, such as thus with his ankle.
For Anderlecht, of course, it is not easy to wait so long. What if the club plays it safe and recruits another defender? "Anderlecht must do what is best for them," Vertonghen is clear. "My bond with Anderlecht is very good."
Either way, Vertonghen assumes Anderlecht will be his last club. "I can say that with some certainty anyway."
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