Jaliens' Journey

It only takes a brief conversation to discover Kew Jaliens is one resilient guy.

It only takes a brief conversation to discover Kew Jaliens is one resilient guy.

Relaxed in his casual attire after a rigorous training session, Jaliens opens up on life in Newcastle without his young family.

The Jets' Dutch-born defender says he misses his wife Esmeralda and two children, Keanu (5) and Asia (7), like crazy.

It-s why he-s on internet twice a day talking to them.

“It is hard, because it-s so quiet here without them,” Jaliens admits.

“My kids are so full of energy and laughter all day.

“So without them, I don-t know what to do. I just have an afternoon nap or do some reading.”

As difficult as living away from his family is though, Jaliens also knows he is very fortunate.

In fact, he only has to look down at the scar on his left leg for a permanent reminder of how to keep things in perspective.

You see, the black and blue bruise evokes memories of the time he thought his maiden World Cup dream with the Netherlands back in 2006 was over.

“I got injured in the last friendly match before they had to pick the squad,” he recalls.

“I made a sliding tackle and the players stud flew up and hit me pretty hard and I had a deep flesh wound.

“So I was out and they had to pick the squad, so I thought my World Cup was over.”

At this point lying on a hospital bed, it would have been easy for Jaliens to just give in.

In many ways you could understand if he did, but that-s just not in his nature.

“I remember my father coming into the hospital room and saying, ‘you-re in, you-re in,” he continues.

“I didn-t understand and my father said, ‘you-re in the squad-.

“I went to the World Cup in Germany still being injured and I didn-t play any of the friendly matches.

“But when I was there I trained extra to become fit and then they picked me to play the match against Argentina."

Jaliens played a crucial role in defence against Argentina, keeping superstars Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez at bay.

It was special moment and one that will always serve as inspiration when times get tough for the Newcastle recruit.

“You know, scars heal and you can turn this into a blessing,” he grins.

“For me, this is proof that scars can heal and give you something positive.”

Jaliens' footballing journey began in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands.

He recalls starring in the junior ranks and attracting attention from big club's like PSV Eindhoven from a young age.

As much as Jaliens was flattered to catch their eye, looking back now he admits he wasn't ready for the step up.

"It was never on my mind," he says.

"I had the likes of PSV and Sparta Rotterdam interested, but I said no because I wanted to hang out with my friends and I just wanted to have fun.

"I wasn't ready to be a professional."

So Jaliens went off and lived life like any other 13-year-old would, spending time riding push bikes and playing social sports with his mates.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Jets' defender now believes that was the best move as it enabled him to be a kid without all the seriousness the adult world would later bring.

Jaliens was also a farm boy, raised in a small community about 15 minutes outside Rotterdam, and enjoyed the more relaxed lifestyle compared to the hustle and bustle of the city.

"I went to high school in Rotterdam and I was the only one from my neighbourhood to actually go to the big city every day," he explains.

"For me it was totally different circumstances than all my mates.

"Also, from a young age in football I skipped all my normal age groups and so I never really played with my friends.

"But after football I-d always make sure I went and hung out with my own friends and I never forgot about where I come from.

"I think that-s what pretty much kept me humble with both feet on the ground."

It-s an attitude Jaliens credits to his parents, Imro and Carmen.

Growing up they always taught their son the value of working hard to achieve his goals.

This message was particularly passed on by Jaliens father, who worked for the Holland Ministry of Defence as an accountant.

"My dad was very focused and organised and this came from his work," he says.

"He had a leading role and had people working under him and he had to be strict.

"That-s were also part of my education comes from.

"If you want to go somewhere, you have to be focused if you want to reach that goal.

"Both my parents are born and raised in Suriname, which is a Dutch Colony in South America.

"A lot of Suriname people at the time went to Holland for study for work and that's when they met each other through friends.

"My mum also did a few jobs, so at the time I had two working parents.

"So I-d have to fix the rice, cut the vegetables and from an early age I had responsibility."

It's a work ethic that also significantly helped Jaliens in his football career.

This was especially the case when he was playing the highest amateur level in Holland at just 15 years of age.

"That was a big thing for a 15-year-old to be playing with guys that were like 25," he says.

"They all had their own job and their own stores and were married and had kids.

"I would rock up with my bicycle (laughs).

"And I was one of the better players at the time."

Jaliens started his professional career at the tender age of 17 with Sparta Rotterdam.

He impressed playing for his hometown club to gain the attention of rival team, Willem II, and by the age of just 20 he was playing Champions League football.

Jaliens then moved across to AZ Alkmaar in 2004 and spent eight seasons at the club, before finally leaving Holland in 2011 and linking with Polish side Wisla Krakow.

"It was exciting, because I wanted to go because I-d pretty much did everything in Holland," he says.

"You know, the Dutch team at the World Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, so it was a challenge to go to another country and start from scratch and show that you-ve still got it.

"I had a great time with my family. I met great people and won a championship in the first year. "We played Champions League qualifiers and we played UEFA again.

"I-ve achieved all my goals in life and football and for me that-s the greatest thing."

There's no doubting Jaliens has ticked plenty of boxes in his football career, so the question must be asked - why would you go to the other side of the world to Australia and link with the Jets?

"Well the biggest thing for me was the challenge," he says confidently and without a hint of hesitation.

"I was joining a very young squad and trying to help make a chance in some of the boys- careers.

"To share what I-ve been through, my knowledge, my experience in soccer and that-s why I came."

Jaliens may only be seven matches into his career at Newcastle, but the 35-year-old has already made an impact on the side.

Life off the pitch is also set to receive a boost, with his young family moving to Australia to join him just before Christmas.

"They'll arrive on my daughters birthday as well, so I'm very excited," says Jaliens, who also listens to gospel music to help him relax away from football.

"My family keeps me humble, focused and gives me vision.

“I always have in the back of my mind that I-m blessed.

“Because in Europe, every boy wants to be a football player.

“So for me to do that every day, well I know I'm lucky and I'll work hard to overcome anything.”

As Jaliens knows, the effort is worth it because scars always heal.