Former Whitecap favourite and senior national team member Marcel de Jong has arrived in Victoria.
On Feb. 19 it was announced that the Newmarket Ontario born wide-back will be joining Pacific FC for its inaugural season.
In an interview with Black Press, de Jong said fans can expect to see him playing in Pacific colours for at least two years. It was announced on Feb. 4 that de Jong was parting ways with Vancouver, even though he said he could have played another year across the water.
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“People who know me I never really did it for the money,” de Jong said about his playing career. “I could have stayed with the Whitecaps and get more money than I do now. I could go to another MLS team, I could go back to Holland if I want. It’s not what I want, I want to think of the future as well.”
Although born in Ontario, de Jong moved to the Netherlands as a child where he began his career. He moved to the 2. Bundesliga side FC Augsburg in 2010. FC Augsburg were promoted to the Bundesliga in 2011, and de Jong remained with the team until moving to Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2015. He spent one year playing with Sporting Kansas City before moving the Ottawa Fury — then playing in the North American Soccer League (NASL) — for six games, and then finally signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps in late 2016.
Between 2016 and 2018 de Jong made 39 regular season MLS appearances with the ‘Caps, plus three more during the 2017 playoffs.
Internationally de Jong has represented Canada 56 times at the senior level. Club president Josh Simpson and chief executive officer Rob Friend played alongside de Jong during their playing days.
“When I started playing for Canada I never knew I was going to be in Canada right now, but being involved with the national team helped me make my decision to go the MLS a little easier,” de Jong said. “It definitely made me realize that I want to be in this part of the world, and right now I don’t want to be back in Holland or Europe or wherever. We feel really at home here in Canada and in B.C.”
Although he said it hasn’t been discussed with the club yet, de Jong hinted that he might see opportunities with Pacific FC after he hangs up his cleats.
“As a player you want to continue and grow, and even after your playing career you want to stay involved in soccer. I think this is a good opportunity for me and my family to build something here, first a couple more years as a player, and then maybe stay involved with the club.”