Steven Taylor still remembers the moment he was left awestruck by Sydney FC's new marquee.
It was just weeks after Siem De Jong had signed for Newcastle United in July 2014, and the Magpies had landed in Wellington for club’s tour of New Zealand.
De Jong arrived fresh from captaining Dutch powerhouse Ajax to four consecutive Eredivisie titles, and it only took a few training sessions for his unique quality to shine through.
“What a signing it was at the time,” Taylor recalls.
“There was a training session in Wellington where I remember he got on the half turn between the defence and midfield and nobody expected it, but he dinked this little ball over the top of defence – inch perfect for the striker at the time who went on to score.
“I just thought that kind of quality, how he sees the game, his passing range and ability all over the park no matter where he is… he’s always forward thinking, he’s got a strike on him.”
“It was something we’d been lacking in years for Newcastle.”
De Jong continued to impress in United’s tour across the ditch four years ago, and opened the scoring in a 4-0 win over his current employers, a match that Taylor also played in.
Wellington Phoenix’s new stalwart says Sydney FC have quite a prospect on their hands.
“You just have to look at his record in Holland and what he’s won playing at the highest level – Champions League, international level.
“For me, Sydney FC have got a fantastic signing, and one of the best marquee signings in the A-League. It’s going to attract that kind of quality out here – like Keisuke Honda at Melbourne Victory, I think it’s fantastic for football out here.”
The former Newcastle United duo are now set to clash as enemies in the Hyundai A-League this season as Sydney FC host Wellington Phoenix at home on December 8.