Netherland’s Jonathan de Guzman was seen as one of the brightest stars after his brilliant display in the 2014 World Cup. The Dutch side eventually finished third in the competition. He had a brilliant season with Swansea City where he helped his side deliver the League Cup and built a reputation for himself as a fine midfielder over his two-year loan spell.
After solid display for Swansea and a decent World Cup – Jonathan de Guzman was all set for the next big leap and he got one. He signed for a four-year contract with a Napoli side which was then coached by Rafa Benitez.
He started his Napoli career in some style as he scored a 95th-minute goal on his debut and at bagged a hattrick against Young Boys in the Europa League. But suddenly he disappeared from the team sheet and even from the news.
But in a recent interview, De Guzman reveals it all and tells us how Napoli almost finished his career.
After the 2014 World Cup, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal declared him as one of the central pieces to the team’s amazing third place finish. Napoli got their man and a couple of months everything was fine. It was going great for the club and the player. But suddenly, in March 2015 – he feels a slight pain in the bottom part of his stomach and that started irritating and hurting him. He goes to the club doctor, who is unable to diagnose him and just puts him on a different diet and rest. De Guzman wasn’t allowed to go see another doctor as per the club instructions.
The season is over and the summer goes by but the pain is still there. Maurizio Sarri becomes the new coach and Giuntoli become the new sports director at Napoli. Napoli’s doctor De Nicola declares De Guzman fit to play, but in his own words, he is now only able to walk 6km per game at 50% instead of 10km at 100% previously. Top shots at Napoli want to get rid of him as they think that he is faking an injury and wants out of the club. On the last day of 2015 summer – the people in Napoli asks him to leave Napoli and tell him that they don’t want him anymore at the club.
De Guzman doesn’t want to leave and wants to be fit again first. He tells the new sports director, who says that if he doesn’t leave, he’ll become very angry, and his career in Napoli will be done. However, De Guzman refuses to leave, and returns for training. Next day Giuntoli comes to him and screams at him. And then: Giuntoli gives him a punch straight in the face. De Guzman starts fighting with him, and the duo had to be separated.
Next day, De Guzman calls Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis who doesn’t answer. Next day at training, Giuntoli brings de Laurentiis’ son Edoardo, with whom de Guzman had a great relationship, yet he tells him: “you’re not going anywhere now: you’re a dead man”. For four months, the only thing he was allowed to do was jog around the training pitch. Finally, he’s allowed to go see another doctor. And here’s the crazy story: this new doctor diagnoses a sport hernia in 10 minutes. Back in Italy, de Nicola (Napoli club doctor) still refuses to allow an operation.
Finally, he’s loaned to Carpi, and they allow the operation. The pain is gone. We’re now in the summer of 2016: de Guzman will take another year to fully recover. He refused a multi-million offer from Asia because he loved the game too much. In 2017, he signs for Eintracht Frankfurt. Finally back to his top level, they beat Bayern München to win the German Cup last season. He becomes the first Dutch player in history to score in the 4 major leagues.