One of the consequences of the inter-lull that is international football week is that those with a bee in their bonnet have that much more time to dig up dirt on those who they have a negative agenda with.
With that as the background, Manchester City's midfield enforcer Nigel de Jong remains public enemy number one after ending Hatem Ben Arfa's season last time out. In doing so, De Jong's previous horror fouls have all been dredged up as his charge book thickens. The collective mindset is to brand the Dutchman a thug, yet there is one area of De Jong's record which is out of sync with his bad-boy reputation.
Almost amazingly, for all of De Jong's crippling tackles only once has the hardman ever seen red in his professional career. And that was way, way back in 2006 in the days of the Uefa Cup when De Jong was playing at Hamburg. Happily (depending on how you view the whole discussion), De Jong's solitary dismissal was undoubtedly a picture of poor tackling.
The setting was a 2-0 away defeat in Bucharest.
Daniel Niculae put the hosts in front early in the second half, and with Hamburg forced to chase the game De Jong's challenges deteriorated.
His first shocker came in the 55th minute when, getting nowhere near opponent Valentin Badoi, De Jong raked the Rapid number nine's shin with the type of bone-breaking challenge for which he is now famed. Almost crazily, De Jong only received a yellow card for that foul.
De Jong made sure of his early bath with a second reckless tackle in the 67th. This time the Dutchman caused his own problems by terribly controlling a high ball in the middle of the pitch. The ball sped off De Jong's foot towards Rapid's Valentin Negru whom he then clattered with a two-footed sliding challenge that got nowhere near the ball but flattened the poor Romanian. That forced the ref to produce a second yellow.
Nigel De Jong's only ever sending off can be seen below:
To recap on De Jong's more recent horror fouls, back in March of this year the Dutchman fractured Stuart Holden's right fibula in an international friendly (!) match against Team America (see here). Then, at the 2010 World Cup, De Jong blackened the final with a shocking kung-fu kick into Xabi Alonso's chest (see here). Finally, just last weekend in the Premier League De Jong ended Ben Arfa's season with another bone-breaking challenge (see here).