Vertonghen admits: ‘I first said ‘no’ to Anderlecht”

Our colleagues from Laatste Nieuws interviewed Jan Vertonghen at length on the sidelines of the Red Devils rally for the Nations League. The opportunity to look back on his return to Belgium, at the very end of the transfer window: “Until August 31, it was clear in my head: I would stay at Benfica. I was hopeful of getting playing time given the busy schedule. That morning I was in the car when my agent called me to discuss Anderlecht’s interest. I said ‘no’ as I had done for approaches from other clubs.”

Vertonghen explains that he felt good in Lisbon, where his wife had found a job and where his children were educated. “But when I arrived at the club, I had a discussion with the coach (Roger Schmidt). Without going into the details of this conversation, I understood that it was over for me at Benfica. It was a shock. I trained that day but had tears in my eyes. After training I ate in town with my wife, we were trying to think about the future. The Anderlecht president needed an answer within two hours…it was a toss up in my mind.”

Eventually, Vertonghen chose to return to Belgium. “From the moment the decision is made, everything goes very quickly. The transfer was completed in 24 hours but it’s a lot of stress and tension. Just for the children, whose schoolbags were ready for the start of the school year. Portugal… I also refused to take the plane the same evening because I had to go and tell my children who were in a… surf camp. I took the car and went to explain to them that we had to leave. It was very painful, it was the most difficult decision of my life.”

And Vertonghen to conclude: “We often hear people say ‘You make enough money’ but at a time like this, money means nothing.”

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