He’s played professionally in four different countries and been capped 51 times by the Philippines.
Next year, the latest chapter in the storied career of Jason De Jong will be written, with the 29 year old set to call Christie Park home after agreeing to terms with NWS Spirit FC.
While at first glance this might seem like a signing completely out of left field, Spirit coach David Perkovic explained that his previous experience with De Jong laid the groundwork for the move.
“I’ve known Jason for quite a long time. When I was coaching Kaya FC in the Philippines he was the captain of our rivals Global FC, and in 2014 he was the league’s Most Valuable Player. We struck up a relationship because he liked the football that we played, and because his brother Danilo played for Kaya,” Perkovic said.
De Jong agreed, saying that he has been keen to play in Australia for quite some time.
“The last two or three seasons that I was playing in the Philippines, I thought about coming over a couple of times. The first time was when David was coaching at Mounties but every time, because of certain obstacles, I didn’t end up moving to Australia,” De Jong said.
“Now I’m in a different stage of my career and want to try something else. David messaged me and asked if I would like to play for Spirit, we talked and I accepted the deal that he offered.”
Perkovic had nothing but praise for De Jong, and is enthusiastic about what he will bring to Spirit FC.
“He’s had a career playing in the Netherlands, Belgium, Indonesia and the Philippines. Jason has a lot of experience in international football as well,” Perkovic said.
“Jason’s a natural leader, and he’s captained professional teams as well as the Philippines Under-23 team. Being born in the Netherlands, Jason is quite a technical player, so we’re hoping he can bring that technique and experience to our midfield.”
De Jong’s Australian connection goes beyond his relationship with Perkovic. The NAC Breda junior has been teammates with Australians in the past, and through those connections has heard a lot about the NPL NSW competition.
“When I played in Indonesia and the Philippines there were a couple of Aussie players that had played in the NPL prior to moving to Asia. I’ve been following the NPL, mainly the NSW competition, and it’s a league that interests me because I want something different.”
In particular, De Jong has been keeping a close eye on Spirit FC, and likes what he sees.
“Last season Spirit did really well, not only results-wise, but also the style of play. Keeping the ball, playing out from the back – I have a lot of respect for that.”
While De Jong still has plenty to offer on the pitch, he won’t just be a player at Christie Park, with the midfielder also accepting a role in the Spirit FC youth setup as the Under-15 coach. The 29 year old will use that opportunity to build on his experience working with youth in the Philippines, a place where he is passionate about developing the footballing stars of tomorrow.
“My wife and I own a club in the Philippines (Bohemians FC). We work a lot with the youth system, and travel a lot with our youth academy as well. Over the last few years, I’ve really developed a love for coaching and helping the next generation get to where I am, or do even better. I especially want to help the Filipino youth reach a higher level, and the Philippines has made tremendous steps, jumping almost 100 places in the FIFA rankings in the last ten years.”
De Jong is due to arrive in Australia in January, and is optimistic about what the 2020 NPL NSW campaign will bring.
Spirit have been making a lot of signings and a lot of quality players are coming in. It’s a promising season, especially because David has been there for a while now and has had the opportunity to build the team that he wants.”
By Eric Subijano
Twitter – @eric_subijano