A value often underappreciated in football is loyalty. It serves the purpose for some, ignored by others and in this fast-paced environment of the global game, it's not as common. Due to the aggressive nature of the transfer window and the constant need of buying and selling at value, contracts in this business are as strong as straw paper so the idea for players to only represent a few clubs in their career is getting less and less frequent.
There is of course nothing wrong with players moving from club to club. After all, they also have to do what's best for them and their families. But sometimes, the coming and going can be too much - where loyalty to a certain franchise doesn't last longer than a season.
It's why Lionel Messi feels betrayed by Barcelona and the soon-to-be-gone Josep Bartomeu. Because the club doesn't respect nor value his loyalty - and that, my friends is something that can't be fixed.
So when I talk to a player such as Jan Vertonghen, loyalty comes to mind. When he joins a club, he values that relationship to the fullest. Before he even joins one, he makes careful decisions based on personal and professional responsibilities and of course whatever helps his incredible career.
At 33, Vertonghen has only been an official member of the three professional franchises - Ajax (nearly 200 appearances), Tottenham and now, Benfica. So I did wonder...why Benfica?
"This transfer was something special," the Belgium international said, speaking to ¡Qué Golazo! Podcast and CBS Sports. "Because of the last year of my contract, the pandemic, which brought a lot of insecurity in the world of football and the transfer market. So, I went a couple of weeks unemployed and I was a bit stressed because I didn't want to be in that situation. There were always options so that kept me calm but I was waiting for the perfect one and I was actually in Amsterdam in the canals on the boats when my agent called me about Benfica. That night I spoke to the general manager of the club [Pinto]...and he gave me a very special feeling when we spoke. In 45 minutes of speaking he convinced me of the club, the project and the players."
Vertonghen now looks forward to Europa League action and to keep elevating his game with the national team, Belgium, ranked No.1 by FIFA. Vertonghen feels humbled when he talks about his teammates, awed by the overwhelming talent around him. Especially Romelu Lukaku.
"He's a beast. A lethal goalscorer," he said, speaking fondly of the Inter striker. "He proves it every game and he's always looking for new things in his game. Off the pitch he's a great guy, he's very intense and loves football. He's actually the nicest guy you will ever meet. I really love him, I have a very good relationship with him and I can't wait to see him again! He's a friendly giant. Let's leave it that way."
Vertonghen also discussed his time with Mauricio Pochettino, his love for board games and his relationship with Toby Alderweireld.
You can also check out the interview below on YouTube, and don't forget to subscribe to ¡Qué Golazo! on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.