Ibrahim Afellay sounds like he had a frog in his throat as he made an emotional goodbye speech to PSV Eindhoven.
It had seemed like Afellay’s career was all-but over when he formally left Stoke City in January 2019, having not played since December 2017 and suffered a series of serious injuries.
Instead he made a fairy tale return to his old club, where first he proved his fitness by training with the youth team and then was appointed club captain and welcomed back into the first team fold.
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The 34-year-old’s contract is up this summer, however, and with the Dutch league having been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a decision has now been made about his future.
But the former Barcelona and Holland playmaker insists he is 100 per cent fit and ready to pull on his boots for another club.
“John (de Jong, technical manager) and Toon (Gerbrands, general manager) have been honest and I really appreciate that,” said Afellay.
“They have clearly shown that the warmth I feel for PSV is mutual. And I’m really happy with that. Over the years I have become and remain a real PSV player. It is nice to hear that I will always be welcome here.”
He added: “I believe that my career is not over yet, that I can still be of value at a good level. Since the winter break I really feel 100 per cent fit. I will use the next few weeks to determine whether I want to take my chance at another club.”
De Jong says that Afellay – who joined Stoke in 2015 from Barca – has been a role model for players at PSV.
He said: “Ibi is a top professional. An example for many. His drive to want to come back after no less than three serious knee injuries has been commendable. He trained individually for months, then with PSV under 19, before joining the A-selection. I really admire that.
“But in addition to that burning ambition, he makes choices with his mind and never goes out overnight. For all these character traits, we would like to involve him in PSV again in the future. In the role that suits him.”