De Jong apologized to Holden for past tackle before injuring Nagbe

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Nigel De Jong is a known hard tackler who plays on the edge of violence. The list of players on the end of his nefarious deeds includes Hatem Ben Arfa, Stu Holden, Xabi Alonso and now Darlington Nagbe.

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But how’s this for a dark harbinger of what was to come for Nagbe? Before Sunday’s match in Portland, De Jong apologized to now broadcaster Holden for his horror tackle that cost the American many months of rehabilitation.


“It’s almost fate, wasn’t it, that this was going to happen. Nigel and I actually had an opportunity [to talk] before the game, and full disclosure, he sought me out and made an apology for this challenge [from March 2010]. As you can see there, I had a grade-2 MCL sprain and a broken right fibula which almost put me out of the World Cup in 2010. Now I did rehab and get back, and I felt that that was a nasty challenge.

“And I also felt that the one today, on Darlington Nagbe, he comes over the ball. I came away from it feeling … He talked about being in a dark period in that part of his career. About the media was on his back. He was under a lot of pressure on the field and was making challenges. In my book, it’s no excuse for breaking legs. It’s no excuse for bad challenges. But I walked away from that feeling good.”

Holden also said he felt sickened after the tackle, a surreal reminder of how he went through a similar things at the same hands (or feet).

Even given De Jong’s hard play, what a wild coincidence that the Dutchman apologized to Holden hours before taking out another USMNT player.