Having scored at an impressive rate over five seasons with PSV Eindhoven, Luuk de Jong found the going a little tougher when he moved to Spain to join Sevilla last year. However, the 30-year-old centre forward proved his class in August’s UEFA Europa League final, heading two goals as his team beat Inter 3-2 in Cologne.
Now the UEFA Champions League beckons again for the Dutchman, but first he has the chance to demonstrate his talent in the UEFA Super Cup match against Bayern, and he hopes that skills picked up from his volleyball-playing parents will stand him in good stead in Budapest.
On the UEFA Super Cup
When I went from PSV to Sevilla, I was hoping to achieve more. I could not have dreamt that we would achieve all this. Now that we have reached the Super Cup final against Bayern, we will do everything we can to win, although it will not be easy against such an excellent team. Their strength is their ability to play collectively, tracking back, transitioning quickly when they lose or win the ball, running to create space for each other.
Are Bayern favourites? Yes, certainly. Anything can happen – it is one match and we need to be ready. It is the start of the season – maybe they are still looking for their best line-up. You always hope that there are little things that are not working yet and that you can take advantage of. It will be very difficult but if there is a chance, you have to just go for it.
On his Europa League final goals against Inter
[For the first] I think Suso had the ball on the edge of the box and I ran to the front post; I then saw that he passed it wide so I moved back behind my marker. At that moment [Jesús] Navas took the ball and crossed towards the front post, which I had anticipated. I made a good movement to get free and I headed in well. [For the second] I signalled to [Éver] Banega to get the ball to the far post [from his free-kick]; I arced my run to that back post, he crossed it perfectly, and I headed the ball with a little dip back towards the front post. I love those headers.
What’s my secret to great headers? My parents were both international volleyball players. They have great timing with jumping and could take the ball at the right moment in the air. I guess I got that from them and also developed it over the years. It’s about timing, about power in the leap; it’s a mix that has to come together in order to head a ball well.
About winning the final
It was a fantastic release of emotions. For a club like Sevilla which had already won five times, even the sixth time was fantastic, although it was a strange season for the players. We didn’t play for three months, and of course it is a pity if you win a trophy and the fans can’t be there to celebrate with you. But it’s still a fantastic trophy that we won together, and I believe the supporters cheered very loudly anyway.
How does it feel to have made club history? Everything happened so quickly, after the game too. We received the trophy and after that we had holidays. I went home and then at home everything went back to normal. I think I’ll realise later that I have written a piece of history with a great club.
On qualifying for the UEFA Champions League
I played [Champions League] matches with Twente and PSV, and it’s a special feeling coming onto the pitch and hearing the Champions League anthem. You dream of playing at that level, and now with Sevilla I think we can do well again.
We have a strong squad which we showed last season. We came fourth, same points as Atlético Madrid – we were able to compete against the top teams. We won the Europa League against a good team. So yes, we’re a strong team but there are many big clubs with much higher budgets and better squads. With our current side we can achieve great things, we need to continue to grow. What we can achieve is difficult to say, but I have a good feeling.