One of the first names on the team sheet for Manchester City, where he commands a starting place in his favoured holding midfield role, the former Ajax favourite has been an Oranje regular since UEFA EURO 2008. Bert van Marwijk has followed on from his predecessor, Marco van Basten, in showing the Amsterdam native plenty of faith, and De Jong contested no fewer than six qualifiers on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The son of former Netherlands international Jerry De Jong, Nigel has unquestionably justified his raised profile over the last two years both at club and international level.
Brought through the ranks at Ajax, he signed his first professional contract with the Dutch capital outfit in the summer of 2002. His Eredivisie debut followed at 17 years of age on 19 October that same year, and the youngster very quickly won himself a place in the hearts of the club’s demanding supporters. Used either as a defensive midfielder or a right-winger, the academy graduate helped clinch the league title in 2004, before packing his bags for a new adventure with Hamburg in Germany two years later.
De Jong quickly won praise in the Bundesliga, not least when he fired the winning goal for HSV away against Bayern Munich to deal the hosts their first ever defeat at the Allianz Arena. A key figure for the northern club, he attracted more and more attention from overseas suitors and eventually signed for Manchester City in January 2009, joining the ambitious Premier League side in a deal worth almost €20m.
Since starting in the 4-2 win over Arsenal in September 2009, De Jong has been a regular first-team presence for City, winning over fans with his excellent technique and sense of positioning. His first international call-up came in 2004, however he was overlooked for EURO 2004 and missed out on the 2006 FIFA World Cup due to injury.