‘He left everything on the pitch for the Club’ – players pay tribute to ‘incredible’ Jan Vertonghen
Mon 27 July 2020, 15:26|Tottenham Hotspur
After eight years at the Club, Jan Vertonghen has clearly made a lot of friends.
We spoke to a number of his current team-mates, plus Jose Mourinho, to find out exactly what the Belgian international defender means to them as he heads off for pastures new...
“Sometimes in your career you meet some great people, great team-mates and Jan is one of them. Obviously I arrived in the same year as Jan (2012) and we’ve shared eight years together. We’ve seen the development of the Club, the improvement of the Club and for sure, Jan has made his contribution to the way the Club has developed itself. He’s got a strong personality – we’re going to miss the man and we’re going to miss the player, for sure. I think he will deserve (legendary) status for what he’s done as a player. Unfortunately we didn’t get any trophies but the key to our success was the development of the Club – a few years in a row in the Champions League, fighting for the top spot in the Premier League, then we were so close to winning a trophy in the Premier League and mainly in the Champions League with the final we lost last year – it’s something that will stay in the fans’ memories. He’s the kind of person that gives his best, he left everything on the pitch for the Club and he’s a great example as a team-mate. It’s sad news that he’s leaving but it’s part of football and we wish him the best for his future.”
“He’s an incredible player. When I broke through to the first team… he’s been here the whole time. He’s a fantastic guy, fantastic player, everyone has seen the quality he has and the type of person he is. It’s been a pleasure to get to know him on a personal level as well. It’s a shame to see him go, especially after the season we’ve had – I know he would have wanted to finish better and us as a team to finish better, but it’s a chance for him to have another chapter towards the end of his career and we wish him all the best. I was on loan when he first got here, but from when I was 20 or 21, we’ve seen each other every day for the last seven years. You build up a good relationship and it’s one of those things. He’s been a fantastic servant to the Club on and off the pitch, a great professional and it’s sad to see him go. We can only wish him good luck for the future.”
“Jan is a great man. He’s been amazing for the Club, amazing for the team off the pitch just as much as on the pitch, and we all know how good he’s been on the pitch. The way he carries himself has always been exemplary for people like myself and the younger players to follow. He’s a fantastic professional, fantastic guy, gets on so well with everyone. He can be serious, he can have a laugh, he enjoys making people very uncomfortable – that’s his banter, which I’ve experience a lot, especially when I was younger! I’m going to miss him a lot.”
“It was an honour to play in the team with him. He's one of the players who has been here the longest, one of the most senior players. He’s an amazing professional but the most important thing is he’s an amazing person as well. Him and Michel Vorm – they’re two very good people – and people that I’d love to count as friends for the rest of my life. When I first came here they helped me out a lot – both of them are like my big brothers! Jan is a great man, he’s a family man. I don’t know much about his family in terms of how he was brought up but they’ve done a great job – he’s an amazing man, he’s got kids that he cares about a lot and he’s one of those people who can make any room comfortable, and anyone can feel like they can talk to him and have a good conversation. I think that’s an amazing quality to have.”
“I knew Jan when I first came into the first team and I was a young, shy Academy boy. Jan was someone I looked up to – a big name, a big player in the team and someone I really respected. Over the last couple of years, we’ve become close and shared some really funny memories together, a lot probably not for the camera! He’s probably one of the best defenders to play for Spurs, if not the best. He’s fantastic, what he’s done for this Club and the way he’s helped take the Club forward from when he first joined to where we are today is a massive credit to him. He’s been a huge part of the team. His ability on the ball, his aggression, strength – he’s just a top player, a top professional.”
“As a player, I’m glad I don’t play against him because he’s so good! We’ve played five seasons together and it’s been incredible. He’s so strong, technically amazing. I wouldn’t want to play against him. It’s very sad he’s leaving. He’s an incredibly good man, great guy, good player. He’s a funny guy, one of the oldest players in the dressing room but he’s always making jokes, he’s a very good guy to have in the changing room, in the squad. He’s been an important player for the young players as well. Having this guy in the team has been a dream.”
“I think these young kids that are training with us and that we are going to promote to the first team work – White, Fagan-Walcott, Cirkin, Skipp, Tanganga – all these boys, I think they’ve had in him an incredible example of what a professional has to be. Apart from the player he is, the example of a professional that he is. Playing, not playing, being on the bench, being in the starting line-up… the same Jan, the same behaviour, the same professionalism, the same respect. As you can imagine, I’ve coached so many top players and so many top professionals – I can promise you that he is at the top of my list in relation to the example of professional that he is. Of course, I wish him the best and I would love him to be back at the Club one day if that is his desire. I think he has, of course, years of football as a player but if, after that, he wants to go in another direction as a football coach, other jobs in football teams, I think he’s one of the guys that leaves a mark on the Club and on myself, for sure.”