Siem and Luuk de Jong: life as brothers and rivals in the Dutch game

Siem and Luuk de Jong: life as brothers and rivals in the Dutch game

There is naturally a competitive edge between brothers across the world. Whether it’s eating their dinner the fastest, getting to the car first or claiming to be their parents’ favourite, there is always scope for there to be a winner and loser. Siem de Jong was just over a year and a half old when his brother, Luuk, was born. With this in mind, it can be imagined that any kickabouts growing up were fiercely competed.

The pair, who were born in Aigle, Switzerland, to professional volleyball players who plied their trade in that country would have a similar footballing education. After moving to the Netherlands, they both played for local amateur club DZC’68, before being scouted for De Graafschap’s academy. However, this is where the similarities in their careers would come to an end, as the pair took two very different routes out of Doetinchem.

Siem was first to flee the nest, as he was picked up by Ajax, who took him into De Toekomst in 2005. He would go on to make his first-team debut in 2007, coming on as a substitute against Kozakken Boys; he scored an equaliser off the bench against Sparta Rotterdam on his Eredivisie birth a fortnight.

While his brother was in Amsterdam, Luuk stayed at De Graafschap for the rest of his academy days, making his Eredivisie debut in 2008. It wasn’t until the following year that he made his first move, joining Twente. Despite choosing a smaller club than his brother had, in terms of stature, Luuk was immediately ready to challenge him.

Throughout the season, both teams took one win off the other, but it was Twente who came out on top, beating Ajax to the Eredivisie title by one point. Luuk played his own role in Twente’s triumph, scoring important goals in wins over NEC and Heerenveen.

Siem would have a triumph of his own, scoring twice in the first seven minutes of the KNVB Beker final against bitter rivals Feyenoord. He then went and added another brace in the second leg, as Ajax went on to win 6-1 on aggregate.

The roles were reversed the following campaign. Siem’s Ajax won the Eredivisie, leading Twente by just two points. However, in his most high-stakes battle against his brother yet, Luuk came out on top in the final of the KNVB Beker, playing 116 minutes as Twente won 3-2 after extra time.

Defeat isn’t something Siem was about to get used to, though, as his Eredivisie title that term was to be the first of four consecutive ones. Meanwhile, a season after that KNVB Beker triumph, Luuk took his first professional steps outside of the Netherlands, joining Bundesliga outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach.

He had a fairly strong first campaign, recording eight goals and four assists in all competitions, including a header that helped to secure a 3-3 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. However, he struggled across the entire 2013/14 campaign. Starting the term with Mönchengladbach before joining Newcastle on loan in January, the Dutchman failed to record a single goal all season.

Having won the last of the four aforementioned Eredivisie titles, Siem would join Newcastle, just as his brother’s underwhelming loan spell was coming to an end. Meanwhile, after seeing his big brother win trophies with Ajax, Luuk was now tasked with stopping them as he signed for PSV Eindhoven. 

Like Luuk, Siem struggled in England. Like Siem, Luuk found success back home. The older brother’s two years at Newcastle were littered with injuries, meaning game time was a rarity. In the first of those seasons, PSV won the league by a convincing 17 points, while Luuk was only outscored by his teammate, Memphis Depay.

Things were closer the following term, but he still tasted success, winning the league by two points and finishing second in the goalscoring charts again- he was one behind AZ Alkmaar’s Vincent Janssen this time.

The brothers were reunited in 2016/17, as Siem was loaned out to PSV. However, it was a disappointing campaign as they only managed to finish third, while the older brother even had to play some games for Jong PSV. It was when Siem left to join Ajax that Luuk would go on to win his final Eredivisie title, getting one over on his brother, just as he had done in the KNVB Beker final back in 2010.

They would both go on to taste victory again, though, albeit at very different levels of the game. Siem moved to Sydney FC on loan in the summer of 2018, helping them to win the 2019 A-League Grand Final. He also got a goal and assist in his only two AFC Champions League matches, which both came in draws against Shanghai SIPG. He is now plying his trade in MLS for FC Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Luuk completed his move to Sevilla in 2019 after scoring 32 goals in all competitions during his last season with PSV. He would go on to earn the man of the match award in arguably the biggest match of his career. After Romelu Lukaku’s penalty had given Inter an early lead in the Europa League final, De Jong, and more specifically his head, clawed the Spanish outfit level, then put them ahead – the second of those headers was truly exquisite. A goal apiece later and Julen Lopetegui was in floods of tears on the sideline, before Jesús Navas got to lift the trophy.

The careers of Siem and Luuk de Jong have intertwined at times, but they couldn’t have been more different for the majority. While Siem helped Ajax to win trophies, Luuk played for their biggest title threat at two different points in his career. It was the older brother who hit the big-time within Dutch football earlier in his career. However, while his stock declined, partly due to injuries, his younger brother has got better with age, and at 30 years old is at the top of his game.

By Danny Lewis @DannyLewis_95

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