Jan Vertonghen

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Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen Belgium.jpg
Vertonghen with Belgium at the 2018 World Cup
Personal information
Full name Jan Bert Lieve Vertonghen[1]
Date of birth (1987-04-24) 24 April 1987 (age 31)[2]
Place of birth Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)[3]
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Tottenham Hotspur
Number 5
Youth career
1997–2000 VK Tielrode
2000–2003 Germinal Beerschot
2003–2006 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2006–2012 Ajax 155 (23)
2006–2007 RKC Waalwijk (loan) 12 (3)
2012– Tottenham Hotspur 193 (5)
National team
2002 Belgium U16 6 (1)
2006–2009 Belgium U21 23 (0)
2007– Belgium 110 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 September 2018
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:03, 11 September 2018 (UTC)

Jan Bert Lieve Vertonghen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjɑn vərˈtɔŋə(n)]; born 24 April 1987) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays for Tottenham Hotspur and the Belgium national team. Mainly a central defender, he can also play as a left back.

He began his senior career at Dutch club Ajax in 2006 and totalled 220 games and 28 goals for them across all competitions, serving as their captain since 2011. He won two Eredivisie and two KNVB Cup titles during his time at the club, and in 2012 he was named Dutch Footballer of the Year. Vertonghen transferred to Tottenham in July 2012, and made the PFA Team of the Year in his first Premier League season, going on to make over 200 appearances for Spurs and winning their player of the year award in 2018.

Vertonghen made his international debut for Belgium in 2007 and his 110 caps (including three unofficial games, according to FIFA rules) are the most in the history of the national team. He was part of Belgian squads that came fourth at the 2008 Olympics and reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2016 as well as third place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Early life

Vertonghen was born in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, to Ria Mattheeuws and Paul Vertonghen.[4][5] He has two brothers, Ward and Lode; both have played football.[4]

Club career


Vertonghen marking Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Shevchenko in 2010

After spending time at VK Tielrode and Germinal Beerschot, Vertonghen moved to the Netherlands and signed a contract with the youth academy of Eredivisie side AFC Ajax. He began as a midfielder but then became a regular at centre-back for Ajax.[6] During his time in the reserves, he became known for an incident in a 2006 KNVB Cup game against Cambuur Leeuwarden, his first home game at the Amsterdam Arena, where he scored a goal to put Ajax 3–0 up. He had attempted a back pass to the Cambuur goalkeeper while a teammate was receiving treatment but instead the ball went into the goal. Since it was unintentional, Ajax allowed Cambuur to score a goal in return.[7]

Loan to RKC

On 23 August 2006, Vertonghen made his first team debut in the Champions League third qualifying round against Copenhagen. He made his first start and Eredivisie debut in a 6–0 win over Willem II at the Amsterdam ArenA and would play another two matches for the first half of the season. After the winter break, he was sent on loan to struggling RKC Waalwijk for the remainder of the season. At RKC, he would play 12 matches in which he scored three times, but he was unable to help the team avoid relegation to the Eerste Divisie.

Vertonghen returned to Ajax for the 2007–08 season, where he was tipped for stardom, but was unable to break through due to a severe injury and the presence of central defenders John Heitinga and Thomas Vermaelen. Johan Cruyff had made no secret of his admiration for the left-footed youngster who can handle any left-sided position in defence and midfield, opting, on 26 September 2008, to extend his contract to 30 June 2013.

Breakthrough at Ajax

The 2008–09 season was a breakthrough season for the young defender. After John Heitinga left for Atlético Madrid, Vertonghen became Thomas Vermaelen's first-choice partner in central defence; the former started 23 of the 26 games he played in and scored four goals. On 28 September, he scored a rare double against Vitesse in a 3–0 win. Although sustaining an injury from training during the week, he played in the match against Groningen on 24 January, billed as a "must-win" match by coach Marco van Basten;[8] Vertonghen was unfortunate enough to be sent off for two yellow cards as Ajax lost 1–0. He was out for a month after sustaining a hamstring injury in an away win on 1 March against Utrecht, but his return lasted only several games after his season was prematurely ended after aggravating another injury.

Rising importance under Jol

Vertonghen with Maarten Stekelenburg.

Under new coach Martin Jol, Vertonghen retained his place in the starting line-up for the 2009–10 season. Despite injuring his toe while on international duty against Spain the previous week, he scored his first goal of the season, a free kick, in a 6–0 thrashing of NAC Breda on 13 September.[9] With the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Arsenal, he and fellow Belgian Toby Alderweireld become the first choice centre-back pairing and soon became a firm fans' favourite.[10] Despite Ajax's erratic form in the latter weeks leading up to the winter break, he turned in some strong performances and attracted the interest of a number of clubs, including Barcelona, but he played down the rumours, stating his intent to at least see out his contract with Ajax.[11][12]

After the winter break, Ajax went on a nine-game unbeaten streak in the league, with Vertonghen playing a key role. Their run of six consecutive clean sheets was ended in a 4–1 home win over PSV when the visiting side were awarded a penalty. Vertonghen was linked with a move to Newcastle United, and later he was also linked with Milan, stating, "I've heard Milan Director Adriano Galliani talk about me after the Champions League match in San Siro and his words were very flattering."[13]

Vertonghen (top right) captaining Ajax.

Vertonghen stated on numerous occasions late in the 2010–11 season that he was considering leaving Ajax at the end of that season.[14][15] In May 2011, Frank de Boer confirmed Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was present at the 2011 KNVB Cup Final held on 7 May 2011, where Vertonghen's side lost 3–2 to Twente.[16] Mancini was reportedly scouting Vertonghen to strengthen his side after they had qualified for the UEFA Champions League 2011–12 campaign.[17]

Breakthrough under De Boer

During the 2011–12 Eredivisie season, Vertonghen emerged as one of Ajax's best players, demonstrating his versatility to cover multiple positions after Ajax had let several regular players out on long-term loans. After an impressive season, including a performance for which he was singled out for praise against Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, he was named the 2011–12 Eredivisie Player of the Year. Named team captain by Frank de Boer, he led his Ajax to their second title in a row, scoring eight goals in 31 league games, highlighting his attacking strengths. Also, for the second time, he dropped the Championship plate. "Now it falls on my toe – this plate just does not like me," Vertonghen said.[18]

Tottenham Hotspur

2012–13 season

Throughout the 2011–12 season, Vertonghen was linked with English club Tottenham Hotspur and publicly expressed his desire to make the move to White Hart Lane ahead of numerous other teams. A key factor in this was his desire to play as a centre-back, with Arsenal wanting to use him as a defensive midfielder. On 8 July 2012, Tottenham agreed a fee and terms for Vertonghen subject to a medical. On 12 July, Tottenham announced that they had officially completed the signing of Vertonghen, for an amount around 12 million Euros, after he successfully completed his medical.[19][20] Vertonghen took part in his first game as a Tottenham player in a 3–2 friendly win against Brentford on 14 July, then later scored his first goal for the club on 26 September in a 3–0 win against Carlisle United in the third round of the Football League Cup.[21]

Vertonghen scored his first Premier League goal against Manchester United in a historic 2–3 win at Old Trafford, although this was later ruled to be an own goal by Jonny Evans.[22] He scored in the league for Tottenham on 16 December, the only goal of the game, in a win at White Hart Lane against Swansea City.[23] Vertonghen then scored a brace in a losing effort against Liverpool on 10 March. He was named Premier League Player of the Month for March 2013, making himself the second Belgian and the 12th Spurs player to win the award.[24] On 11 April 2013, Vertonghen was sent-off against Basel during Tottenham's Europa League quarter-final second leg. Tottenham went on to lose the tie 4–1 on penalties after a 4–4 draw on aggregate.[25] Vertonghen was named in the 2012–13 PFA Team of the Year, alongside Rio Ferdinand, Leighton Baines and Pablo Zabaleta in defence.[26]

2014–15 season

Vertonghen (right) playing for Tottenham Hotspur in 2014.

At the start of the 2014–15 season, Vertonghen appeared to be out of favour with new manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine gave Vertonghen limited games, preferring Younès Kaboul and Federico Fazio. However, Kaboul lost his place to Vertonghen, who formed an effective partnership with Fazio. Together, the pair, over the span of 15 games, celebrated 11 wins and only suffered one loss. Vertonghen helped Spurs to reach the 2015 League Cup Final and started the game on 1 March 2015, but Tottenham lost to rival club Chelsea at Wembley Stadium 2–0.[27]

2015–16 season

Vertonghen was joined in defence by former Ajax teammate and compatriot Alderweireld at the start of the 2015–16 season. Over the first ten games of the season, Vertonghen and Alderweireld played ten out of the opening ten games together, with Spurs suffering only one loss during the span. In late January 2016, he damaged his medial knee-ligament and did not play for 11 weeks.[28] He returned in the home match against Manchester United on 10 April 2016, which finished in a 3–0 win, the first home league win for Tottenham against Manchester United since 2001.[29] His partnership with Alderweireld in the defence was recognised as being crucial for the club which had the joint-lowest number of goals conceded in the Premier League that season.[30][31]

2016–17 season

On 2 December 2016, Vertonghen signed a new contract with Tottenham until 2019.[30] However, in mid January 2017, Vertonghen suffered an ankle ligament injury that would see him out of action for five weeks.[28] He returned to the team on 19 February in the fifth round FA Cup match against Fulham at Craven Cottage.[32] This season, Vertonghen was part of the Tottenham defence that achieved the best defensive record for the club, with only 26 goals conceded in the Premier League (and only 9 conceded in home league games), 6 better than the previous record of 32 conceded that was set in the 1908–09 season in the Second Division.[33] He was considered then one of the best defenders in the Premier League.[34][35]

2017–18 season

On 7 January 2018, Vertonghen scored his first goal for the club since October 2013, a 30-yard strike in the 3–0 win over Wimbledon in the third round of the 2017–18 FA Cup.[36]

International career

Vertonghen with Belgium in 2013

Vertonghen made his international debut at the under-21 level in 2006 and played in the 2007 UEFA U21 Championships.

On 2 June 2007, he made his senior debut for the national team in a 2–1 loss against Portugal. He was also selected for the 2008 Olympics and played in every match as the Belgians unexpectedly took fourth place.

In the 2010 World Cup qualifying, he began to establish himself as a regular, initially at centre-back as former Ajax teammate Thomas Vermaelen's partner. He scored the opening goal, also his first ever international goal,[37] in an August 2009 friendly against the Czech Republic that ended in a 3–1 loss. On 7 September 2009, in a World Cup qualifying away match against Spain, he injured his toe and had to be stretchered off and substituted in the 29th minute. The match ended bad as well; a 5–0 loss.[38] Now he usually plays as leftback as Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany are the preferred pairing in central defence.[39] He was back in the starting eleven for the friendly against Hungary, a 3–0 win[40] and the 1–0 loss to Croatia the following March.

On 13 May 2014, Vertonghen was named in Belgium's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[41] In the team's opening match against Algeria national football team, the African side was awarded a penalty after Vertonghen pulled down Sofiane Feghouli and received a yellow card. Feghouli scored for Algeria from the penalty spot,[42] but Belgium came back to win 2–1. He was then replaced by Thomas Vermaelen in the starting line-up for the second match against Russia on 22 June.[43] After 31 minutes, however, Vermaelen was taken off with an injury and replaced by Vertonghen.[43] In the final group match, Vertonghen captained the team and scored the winning goal as Belgium beat South Korea 1–0.[44]

Early in the 2014–15 season, Vertonghen knocked a child unconscious with a misplaced shot during a training session with the Belgian squad.[45] In 2016, he injured two ligaments in his ankle in an accident while training before the quarter-final against Wales during Euro 2016, and as a result missed the match that Belgium lost.[46]

Eleven years to the day on from his international début, against the same opposition (Portugal) Vertonghen won his 100th cap (the first in Belgian history), which was presented to him by his mother.[47]

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Vertonghen initiated the scoring in Belgium’s second-half comeback from a 0–2 deficit against Japan, heading from 20 yards out to the far post in a 3–2 comeback victory.[48]

Career statistics


As of 18 September 2018[49][50]
Vertonghen alongside compatriot Nacer Chadli playing for Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby against Arsenal, 2013
Club Season League Domestic Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ajax 2006–07 3 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 6 0
2007–08 31 2 3 0 1 0 2 0 37 2
2008–09 26 4 2 0 7 1 35 5
2009–10 32 3 7 0 10 0 49 3
2010–11 32 6 6 1 13 1 0 0 51 8
2011–12 31 8 3 2 8 0 0 0 42 10
Total 155 23 21 3 42 2 2 0 220 28
RKC Waalwijk (loan) 2006–07 12 3 1 0 13 3
Tottenham Hotspur 2012–13 34 4 1 0 2 1 12 1 49 6
2013–14 23 0 0 0 2 0 8 1 33 1
2014–15 32 0 2 0 6 0 7 0 47 0
2015–16 29 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 33 0
2016–17 33 0 3 0 0 0 6 0 42 0
2017–18 29 0 3 1 1 0 5 0 38 1
2018–19 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 6 1
Total 185 5 9 1 11 1 43 2 248 9
Career total 352 31 31 4 11 1 85 4 2 0 481 40


Against Russia in Sochi, 2017
As of match played 11 September 2018[51]
National team Year Apps Goals
2007 6 0
2008 7 0
2009 7 1
2010 7 0
2011 8 1
2012 9 2
2013 10 0
2014 13 1
2015 9 1
2016 13 0
2017 9 2
2018 12 1
Total 110 9
The friendlies against Romania on 14 November 2012 and Luxembourg on 26 May 2014 are not officially recognised FIFA matches due to an excessive number of substitutions when only six were allowed.[52]

International goals

As of match played 2 July 2018. Belgium score listed first, score column indicates score after each Vertonghen goal.[53]
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 12 August 2009 Na Stínadlech, Teplice, Czech Republic 15  Czech Republic 1–3 1–3 Friendly
2 29 March 2011 King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium 30  Azerbaijan 4–1 4–1 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification
3 15 August 2012 King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium 39  Netherlands 4–2 4–2 Friendly
4 7 September 2012 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales 40  Wales 2–0 2–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
5 26 June 2014 Arena Corinthians, São Paulo, Brazil 58  South Korea 1–0 1–0 2014 FIFA World Cup
6 13 November 2015 King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium 74  Italy 1–1 3–1 Friendly
7 3 September 2017 Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens, Greece 92  Greece 1–0 2–1 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
8 7 October 2017 Stadion Grbavica, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 93  Bosnia and Herzegovina 3–2 4–3
9 2 July 2018 Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia 105  Japan 1–2 3–2 2018 FIFA World Cup




Tottenham Hotspur




  1. ^ "Vol beloften: Jan Vertonghen" [Full of promises: Jan Vertonghen] (in Dutch). AFC Ajax. 25 October 2005. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  2. ^ "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia: List of players: Belgium" (PDF). FIFA. 10 June 2018. p. 3. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  3. ^ "J. Vertonghen: Summary". Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Wallace, Sam (15 December 2012). "Exclusive interview: Jan Vertonghen spurred on by Tottenham's fight". The Independent. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  5. ^ Flavius, Kavan (21 December 2016). "Spurs Star's Mother Admits White Hart Lane Exit Could Be Close Due to 'Homesickness' Issues". 90min.com. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Jan Vertonghen tevreden met positie bij Ajax". Voetbal Centraal (in Dutch). 12 November 2009.
  7. ^ "Gatorade Cup: Young Ajax beat Cambuur in memorable game". Ajax USA. 20 September 2005.
  8. ^ "Preview: FC Groningen vs Ajax Amsterdam". ESPN Soccernet. 25 January 2009.
  9. ^ "Match Report: Ajax Amsterdam vs NAC Breda". ESPN Soccernet. 13 September 2009.
  10. ^ "Jol: 'Vertonghen is een echte Hollander'". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 26 September 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  11. ^ "'Jan Vertonghen in beeld bij FC Barcelona'". De Pers (in Dutch). 17 February 2010. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Guardiola estaría siguiendo a Vertonghen". Sport (in Spanish). 16 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Vertonghen linked to Milan". Goal-arena.com. Archived from the original on 16 February 2011.
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  15. ^ "Ajax star targets Prem switch". Sky Sports. 8 May 2011.
  16. ^ "City keep eye on Vertonghen". Sky Sports. 13 May 2011.
  17. ^ "City scout Belgian trio". ESPN Soccernet. 10 May 2011.
  18. ^ "Season review: Netherlands". by Berend Scholten on UEFA.com. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
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  20. ^ "Tottenham on the verge of completing transfer of Jan Vertonghen". The Guardian. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Carlisle 0–3 Tottenham". BBC Sport. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  22. ^ "Spurs end United hoodoo" Skysport. 29 September 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  23. ^ "Premier League – Vertonghen strike sinks Swansea" UK Yahoo. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  24. ^ "Vertonghen and Moyes win Barclays awards". Barclays Premier League. 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  25. ^ "FC Basel 2–2 Tottenham (agg 4–4)". BBC Sport. 11 April 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Gareth Bale wins PFA Player of Year and Young Player awards". BBC Sport. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  27. ^ a b McNulty, Phil (1 March 2015). "Chelsea 2–0 Tottenham Hotspur". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  28. ^ a b Fifield, Dominic (17 January 2017). "Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen facing up to two months out with ankle injury". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Gray, James (13 April 2016). "Tottenham star: Why Manchester United win was easy". Sunday Express.
  30. ^ a b "Jan Vertonghen signs new deal with Tottenham until 2019". The Guardian. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  31. ^ "THE Big Interview- Jan Vertonghen". Tottenham Hotspur. 12 April 2016.
  32. ^ Pitt-Brooke, Jack (20 February 2017). "Jan Vertonghen targeting Europa League and FA Cup trophies this season as Tottenham get back in the groove". The Independent.
  33. ^ "2016–17 in Numbers – New Defensive Records". Tottenham Hotspur. 2 June 2017.
  34. ^ "Football365's top ten defenders of the season". Football365. 26 April 2017.
  35. ^ Roberts, Ewan (17 November 2017). "Arsenal beware: How Jan Vertonghen has become the Premier League's best centre-back". Metro.
  36. ^ "Harry Kane is back among the goals as Spurs dispatch Wimbledon". ITV. 7 January 2018.
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  38. ^ "Vertonghen twee weken uit de strijd". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). 7 September 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  39. ^ "L'équipe-type prend forme". La Libre Belgique (in French). 19 November 2009.
  40. ^ "België wint oefenpot tegen Hongarije: 3–0". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 14 November 2009.
  41. ^ "Adnan Januzaj included in Belgium's World Cup squad". BBC Sport. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  42. ^ Felini Inspires Belgium to Comeback Win – BBC Sport online, Accessed 17 June 2014
  43. ^ a b "Brazil v Russia". BBC. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  44. ^ "South Korea 0–1 Belgium". BBC. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
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  46. ^ "Jan Vertonghen ruled out of Euro 2016 after tearing ankle ligaments". The Guardian. 30 June 2016.
  47. ^ Shinbt, Jagroop (4 June 2018). "These sports stars proved that their mums are the real superstars". bbc.co.uk/bbcthree. BBC Three. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
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  50. ^ "Jan Vertonghen". Voetbal International. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  51. ^ "Jan Vertonghen". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.
  52. ^ "Law 3: The Number of Players". The Football Association. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  53. ^ "Jan Vertonghen". Royal Belgian Football Association. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  54. ^ "Jan Vertonghen". Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  55. ^ "Manchester City players dominate PFA team of the year". BBC Sport. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  56. ^ "Jan Vertonghen: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 28 September 2018.

External links

  • Jan Vertonghen at tottenhamhotspur.com
  • Belgium Stats at Belgian FA
  • Jan VertonghenFIFA competition record (archive)
  • Jan VertonghenUEFA competition record
  • Jan Vertonghen at National-Football-Teams.com
  • Jan Vertonghen at Soccerbase
  • Jan Vertonghen at ESPN FC
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