The most famous “foul” in the World Cup campaign was most likely Nigel de Jong’s karate kick in the finals. Why? Because it was in the finals, and because it was Nigel de Jong ( the Animal) against the princely Spanish…
But in the semi finals, a more horrific foul was committed. And this was an intentional one as well. And like De Jong, the guilty party was not punished with a red card. Uruguayan player Careces could finish the game, while De Zeeuw was subbed at half time.
Unfortunately, I can’t publish more than one picture on this post, but google “Demy de Zeeuw kick in face” and you can see pics of the aftermath, of his teeth, and of his confused look after the hit.
What was supposed to be the high light of the Ajax’ midfielder’s career, became a turning point.
Demy de Zeeuw never really recovered. The former AZ midfielder left for Russia, only to be signed by John van de Brom for Anderlecht, where he plays his football now.
It was Louis van Gaal who discovered De Zeeuw at Go Ahead Eagles. The AZ coach was scouting another player but picked up on the little midfielder, who – like Sneijder before him and Clasie after him – can be seen as a game accelerator. Van Gaal: “Whenever De Zeeuw gets the ball, he speeds up the game with a very smart through ball. Things happen once he is involved.”
AZ signed the midfielder and he had four great years there, until Ajax snatched him up. The midfielder made it to skipper at Ajax and impressed with important goals and good play. He made it into Van Marwijk’s Oranje squad and was moving up in the world, until that dramatic injury against Uruguay.
He still smiles a huge white smile, which he attributes to Caceres’ bycicle kick. “My teeth got better from that kick, haha, but my career suffered. My front teeth are all fakes now, crowns.”
The whole world saw that clash. The pictures were published all over the place and Mike Hutchings won the World Press Photo in the sports category. De Zeeuw: “I don’t mind the pic, but I can’t see the video of the kick. I can’t handle that. As I can’t stand watching players break things in general.”
The starting spot in the semis was supposed to be his high point. He himself looks back on it differently. “I think I only really played 24 minutes. That is when it happened. I was actually kicked out of the game. I can’t imagine now how I managed to play till the half time break. I can’t remember a thing. A disgrace they let me back in. My teeth were all pointing inwards. I think I played purely on adrenaline but can’t remember a thing. In the half time break, I went to lie down and I couldn’t get up… I blacked out totally….”
Once De Zeeuw returned to Ajax, things changed. “It took a while for me to get fit. The dental work had an effect on my overall fitness. I had all sorts of inflamations and I felt sick. I did play but I never played on my normal level. The game simply went past me and I ended up on the bench.”
This was the first time he had to deal with a setback. “My career was going well. From Eagles to AZ, then to Ajax, Oranje…. I did hope on a big club in a good league after Ajax but it wasn’t to be.”
He never heard back from Caceres. “But why would he? I don’t blame him. He was about to score a world class goal and I got in there and headed the ball away. He was entitled to go for it. I don’t think he was out to kick me in the face…”
But, more strangely, he never heard from the KNVB either. Ask him about the insurance… “Please don’t ask… I am in talks with the KNVB but I can’t see anything coming out of that. The federation hasn’t dealt properly with it. It’s weird though right? But that is football for ya. The biggest sports in the world but really amateuristic.”
The KNVB however, claims the insurance obligation is with the clubs. “The FIFA is very clear. The players need to be insured via the clubs. The first care was done by us and paid for by us, back in South Africa, but all the other treatments needed to be paid for by Ajax’ insurance.”
The medical cost are paid by the player himself. “These teeth cost 1000s of euros. That is the reason why I laugh a lot, hahaha.”
De Zeeuw went to Spartak Moscow in 2011 but failed to make an impact there. He never felt at home in Russia and was relieved when fellow country man John van de Brom signed him on a loan deal for Anderlecht. De Zeeuw didn’t start in the starting line up. “I was simply not 100% fit. I needed some work. But now, I am really happy in Brussels and would love to stay here. First win the title, than talk about a contract.”