Frenkie de Jong has spoken about his dream coming true, and the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
In an exclusive interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong talked about racism, the return of life after quarantine, and how he listens to Messi’s advice.
Frenkie de Jong, who joined the Catalan team in 2019 from the Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, has expressed his dissatisfaction about the racist events taking place in the world at this time, in a recent interview with BBC.
The midfielder also commented on his social media post including a photo of him alongside Georginio Wijnaldum, hand-in-hand.
“It makes you feel really sad that there are still things like this I can’t imagine people thinking this way, it’s really strange,” de Jong told BBC.
“In our dressing room we have players from South America, Holland, Spain, everywhere in the world and we’re coming together – the color of your skin and where you’re from doesn’t matter. Sport can play a big role as you can reach many people.”
“We decided it would be good to make a statement that everyone’s the same. Georginio Wijnaldum and the squad decided we would go up with our arms out to send a message [against racism].”
De Jong added that this photo was taken on November when the Dutch team had a match against Estonia in the qualifications fixtures for the EURO’s. There was an incident in the Netherlands, when people were shouting against black people.
He decided to re-share the post after the death of an unarmed black American man, George Floyd, who died after a white police officer had his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes in the American city, Minneapolis.
Life after the quarantine period
During his talk about the return to training with his team-mates stopping in preparation for the return of the La Liga on the 11th of June, Frenkie said that life will not be the same and that we should adapt to the new circumstances.
“I didn’t have the virus but life isn’t how it used to be,” said De Jong. “I don’t think it’s changed me as a person. I’ve spent a lot of time with my girlfriend, we were in Holland and we could go out – the situation was a bit more comfortable than in Spain.
“When we were training in separate groups we had to wait before the others left, I couldn’t say ‘hi’ to them, that was strange.
“Training is intense and maybe we’re better than when we stopped. I’m feeling there is something special coming.”
Alongside this, de Jong added that the reason behind his name was the British band “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” because his parents liked the band a lot.
On joining FC Barcelona
After a great season with Ajax, winning the Eredivisie title, the domestic KNVB Cup, and reaching the Champions League semi-final, many clubs were very interested in signing the Dutch talent, but he only had one dream: to join Barcelona.
“It was my dream to play for Barcelona,” said de Jong, who had watched their games while on holidays in Spain. “They were my favorite club outside of the Netherlands. When they came and showed they were interested, they made the choice easier.”
“He [Bartomeu] spoke about the other clubs and Guardiola, and said that when he [Guardiola] was at Barcelona, he was amazing. He said Guardiola was the greatest manager, but told me ‘if you want to enjoy your life you want to play in Barcelona'”.
“Sometimes when I’m driving to the training ground, you see the weather, and there are these moments when you think ‘I always wanted this as a kid, it’s a dream’. I’m really happy.”
Learning from the best
Despite many disappointments in his first season including the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, de Jong is able to adapt to the team and to his new team-mates.
The midfielder admitted that he has to change his playing style a little bit but that he still is learning from the best in the game.
“In Ajax and the Dutch squad I’ve had a different role, but we are playing with a double pivot.”
“I have to adapt and it’s going OK, but I can improve. I’m at my best when I’m not the most defensive but also not the most attacking.
“If Lionel Messi is talking and giving you advice you take it as he is by far the best player in the world. If he gives advice, you listen. Sometimes he says you have to be deeper or to the side, small things but it makes the difference.”