When Gregory van der Wiel scored the 2 nil against Sparta in Rotterdam last season, Jan Vertonghen pointed to the crest and held out three fingers. Three fingers that stand for the third star (30th league title) Ajax still have to win.

That little sign is bigger than big in its meaning. It showed Jan Vertonghen’s passion and love for Ajax. The Belgian, who joined the academy at the age of 15 from Germinal Beerschot, has been a mainstay in the current Ajax side for about four seasons. Since being named as talent of the year in 2006/2007, he’s been a rising star. And since Thomas Vermaelen left to Arsenal in the summer of 2009, Vertonghen has become one of Ajax’s key players. He has taken over the role of his Belgian friend in the center of the defense with ease. He played in different positions before that: left back, left midfielder, holding midfielder and also center back. He was and still is a utility man capable of playing in any role between midfield and defense.

His versatility is one of the reasons that he’s an excellent player. He feels comfortable in different positions and can play his own game in all of them. With no fear to stick in with tackles, showing the warrior in him, he’s one of best, if not the best, defender on the Dutch pitches. He’s hard to beat for any player with his strength, technique and will to fight.

His trademarks are his technically perfect crosses and his deep runs. Being technically gifted is a trademark of almost every defender that comes through the ranks of the academy. Vertonghen is a great example of that with his ability to play perfect crosses to the left- or right winger. His other trademark, the deep runs, is my favorite. It shows his technique and drive. They’ve been compared to ‘Beckenbauerish’ runs, which pretty much says in my eyes how much technique he has in his feet. He can easily run past two or three players and also pick out the right pass. I think it’s a matter of time until he scores a goal after one of his famous solos.

Have I summed up all his pluses? No, there’s one left: his dead-ball ability. He can smash in balls from anywhere outside the box. A big bonus in the game nowadays. Cliché or not, his left foot is a hammer. He’s also capable of heading in balls after a corner or free kick besides scoring free kicks.

Jan Vertonghen has become one of my favorite players in football nowadays. Not in the last place because of the passion, maturity and love he showed for Ajax. When Ajax are having a low period, which is unfortunately quite often, it hurts Ajax’s number 4. It sticks in his heart. When Ajax were having a low spell under Martin Jol, he didn’t want to talk about it at home with friends or family because it truly hurt him. And that passion, that love for Ajax is what you see back on the pitch too. When things go the right way, his smile is bigger than everyone else’s. When things don’t go the right way, no one would look with more anger than Jan Vertonghen.

At the celebration after winning the cup last season with the fans, Jan Vertonghen sang a little song towards Feyenoord. It’s not needed to say the words again (if you want to know it, watch the video below) and it wasn’t smart of him to do it. But, it has to be said, it showed once again how much he feels for Ajax. He’s simply a true Ajacied.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish he could stay forever at his beloved Ajax. Become the new Danny Blind. Captain the team on the road to new success. Unfortunately this won’t happen. The Belgian has his own ambitions and rightly so. He has become too good for the Eredivisie. He’s been playing on top of his game for at least two seasons now and he’s ready for a new step. I just hope the moment he takes that step will be postponed for at least a few more seasons.