‘On the edge’: De Goey addresses off-field incidents, reveals fears for career

Collingwood star Jordan De Goey has revealed he feared his career could be over after his 2021 fight in a New York nightclub.

Reflecting on multiple off-field controversies, the midfielder said the incident that caused him to spend a night in a jail cell after his arrest for allegedly punching and kicking a man in Chelsea was the one that put his career “on the edge” and prompted him to re-examine his life.

Jordan De Goey.Credit:Getty Images

He pleaded not guilty to two charges – forcibly touching and assault. Days later New York prosecutors dropped the forcible touching charge, and the assault charge was downgraded to second-degree harassment, which he later pleaded guilty to.

Collingwood stood down the forward-midfielder indefinitely following the incident.

“That was when my career was right on the edge,” De Goey told News Corp in an interview published on Wednesday.

“It looked like it could have gone either way at times. The situation was a lot different to the way it was portrayed [in the media]. But at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter because something happened, and it wasn’t what anyone wanted to see.”

It was not the player’s first run-in with the law: In 2015 – his first year with the Magpies – he was charged with one count of indecent assault. That charge was later withdrawn, and Victoria Police was ordered to pay his legal costs.

He has also pleaded guilty to a range of driving offences, including drink-driving.

“[New York] was probably the moment where it was like ‘OK, let’s start [putting] parameters in place, let’s start getting the right people guiding and supporting you’.”

But nine months after the incident in New York, during a mid-season break, the now-infamous Bali nightclub video surfaced.

That moment, which resulted in a $25,000 suspended fine from Collingwood for “disrespectful conduct”, resulted in calls for his sacking. The Age reported at the time that the Magpies withdrew their initial contract offer.

Following the aftermath of the controversy, which included an apology from De Goey, the player was committed to staying at the club, turning down a five-year deal worth $5 million from St Kilda.

De Goey and Collingwood ultimately agreed to behavioural clauses for the first two seasons of his new deal, which the player said was a “stumbling block” in negotiations.

“But it is one of those situations where you have to give up something to gain something back. The club ended up being really good. We worked through it and got there,” he said.

“It is not just about money. At the end of the day, money doesn’t buy you success. Everyone wants to be a part of a premiership at Collingwood; the biggest club in the land.”

Ahead of the 2023 season, De Goey’s pre-season campaign has been controversy-free, focused mostly on fitness. That work included a month away in Bali and intensive work with a sprint coach.

“It is funny what a quiet pre-season can do for you. I haven’t had too many of them across my career,” he said. “I have stayed out of the papers and I have been injury free (other than minor shoulder surgery in December).

“I have put in all the hard work over the pre-season, so there will be no excuses from me.”

Collingwood coach Craig McRae told The Age last week that De Goey is fitter, happier and more engaged than ever as the new season approaches.

“I’ve never seen him happier. He came back and had an operation, which wasn’t ideal, but it allowed him to run, and he just looks happy,” McRae said.

“And I think when anyone in their life is happy, they tend to be the best version of themselves in whatever they do. Right now, and it’s early days, but if you look he is smiling and engaging and leading.”

De Goey seemed to agree with that assessment.

“I am in a really good mental zone right now,” he said. “I am happy and healthy and that can definitely correlate to your performance on the field and a good club environment also helps.”

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