Former Paris Saint-Germain right-back Gregory van der Wiel has admitted he was “sick of football” after dropping down the pecking order at the Parc des Princes.
The 33-year-old Dutchman spent four years in the French capital after transferring from Ajax in 2012, and he would go on to win 12 trophies while donning the Parisian colours, though his silverware success did not boost his love for the game. Instead, a lack of playing time pushed him to the precipice.
The 46-capped Netherlands international started just 17 Ligue 1 games in his maiden season at the club, followed by 24 in 2013/14, 22 in 2014/15 and eventually just 16 in 2015/16. He subsequently left for Fenerbahce and ended his playing career at Toronto FC, after a brief stint at Cagliari.
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Van der Wiel departed PSG at the age of 28, which should have been the prime years of his career. He would go on to play just 57 more professional games before bowing out in 2020, having been a free agent for a year.
He has now revealed he became disillusioned with the sport following his time in Paris, telling Kick’t Net: “You land in France, with different players, different coaches, different tactics. I arrived in a team full of stars, guys that you often play with on Playstation. I arrived as a young guy, with my eyes wide open, shaking their hands. It was crazy, really incredible.
“I received an offer to extend my contract by three years, that’s true, but I decided not to extend it. I wasn’t very happy there. I wasn’t always playing. I didn’t have the security of playing regularly.
“There were also some incidents in my last season [2015-16] that annoyed me. Serge Aurier’s live Periscope video, for example, where he spoke about the coach [Laurent Blanc] and about me in particular, two or three days before an important Champions League match against Chelsea. He was punished for that.
“Everyone sent me messages of ‘Get ready, you’re the one who will be playing’. Of course, it was an opportunity for me. In the end, I didn’t even play. They put Marquinhos in my position even though he is a central defender.
“They were difficult moments to experience, where you feel bad, and you say ‘Guys, do you think I’m that bad that I am second choice at right-back with a central defender in my position?’ It made me not want to stay there. To be honest, at that time I was sick of football.”
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