De Jong - I was lucky
Dutch midfielder admits he was lucky in World Cup final
Last Updated: July 12, 2010 7:57pm
De Jong: Slams into Xabi Alonso
Holland midfielder Nigel de Jong admits he was lucky not to be sent off during the World Cup final.
De Jong escaped with just a yellow card after a terrible challenge on Spain's Xabi Alonso in the first half, as referee Howard Webb took a lenient view on his chest-high tackle.
Only three of the Oranje's starting line-up in Soccer City were not yellow carded by English match official Webb, as Holland employed cynical tactics to disrupt Spain's passing style.
John Heitinga was sent-off in extra time after receiving two bookings, and De Jong believes he could have been waiting for him in the dressing room after his heinous foul.
"Yes, I was concerned it might be worse than a yellow," said the Manchester City midfielder.
"It looked worse, although to be honest I didn't see the opponent coming in from the side.
"I was really focused on the ball and I caught him on his chest. It was a bit curious but he gave the yellow card so for me it was a little bit of luck."
Holland have been openly critical of Webb's performance, as he failed to award them a corner shortly before Andres Iniesta scored the only goal of the game in extra time.
But De Jong defended the Premier League referee, saying he is experienced despite a few errors.
"It is easy to blame the referee," he added. There were some strange decisions and everyone, in the stadium and on TV, could see we should have had a clear corner when he gave a goal-kick to Spain.
"On the next attack they score. What can you do about that? He will realise what he did when he sees the replay.
"But I am not saying the biggest fault was with the referee.
"I know him from the Premier League and have never had a problem with him.
"He refereed the Champions League final at the end of the season so he has a lot of experience.
"I like the referees in the Premier League. Howard is not a bad referee. But sometimes you don't have your luckiest games. Unfortunately, in the final, he did not have his luckiest game.
"Nowadays the pressure on the referees is so big. There are so many rules from Fifa telling them what to do.
"It would be easier if they could concentrate on the basics and referee the game.
"Maybe I am a little bit old school. But when you see how football used to be, there were worse fouls then and no-one even whistled.
"It is part of the game. Now Fifa come out with all those rules and the game is not exciting for the players any more. Let football stay as football."