De Jong proud of national recall
Nigel de Jong is pleased he will again be able to pull on a Netherlands shirt after coach Bert van Marwijk ended his international exile. The Manchester City midfielder was excluded from the squad last year for UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers against Moldova and Sweden amid anger over a tackle he made on Hatem Ben Arfa.
The challenge, which was not deemed a foul by referee Martin Atkinson, occurred during a Premier League match between City and Newcastle in October and left Ben Arfa with a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg.
Van Marwijk criticised De Jong strongly at the time, saying: "I have a problem with the way Nigel needlessly looks to push the limit."
But the Holland coach has now welcomed De Jong back into the fold for the friendly against Austria in Eindhoven on 9 February. The 26-year-old told ManC, the official City magazine: "It was never my intention to hurt Ben Arfa and especially to injure him.
"There's been lots of talk about the situation with the national team and three months have passed since I was left out of the qualifiers. Obviously, I never gave up on the chance of representing my country again and never would because I'm very proud to play for Holland."