Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen both came up through the Ajax youth academy before claiming their spots in the heart of the first team’s defensive line. They went separate ways for a short period of time before being reunited at Tottenham Hotspur, where the two Belgium internationals have once again formed an excellent defensive partnership. Alderweireld sat down with The Times and discussed his relationship with Vertonghen.
“From day one it went well. It just felt good.”, said Alderweireld. “We didn’t always play together, because sometimes Jan played in midfield. Martin Jol eventually gave us the chance to play together at Ajax and it worked. I was 19 and he was 21, so I leaned a bit on him, but it was a great process for me.”
“At Ajax they don’t worry about your age. If you’re good enough, you play. It was a young partnership, but we were twice champions of Holland together so, yeah, it was good.”
“At Tottenham we try to play the pressing game, to play very high, and we played that way at Ajax as well. We’re both not slow and we can both play the ball. We had our education in the Ajax academy, so we were brought up the same way. That helps.”
The Belgian duo has only conceded three goals with Spurs this season, the fewest out of all Premier League teams. The Lilywhites are in second place after seven games, one point behind league leaders Manchester City.
“We trust each other. We try to help each other. We’re not selfish. It’s a partnership. We know we have to do the job together. It’s not just about Jan and me, by the way. It’s also about the full backs, the goalkeeper, the midfielders and the whole team.”
“But, yeah, Jan and I work together. We talk about the striker we’re playing against, how we’re going to play. We talk a lot about what we’re going to do.”