Close friends for years, the two Holland midfielders struck an agreement that they would dine out together on Saturday night, regardless of the outcome of Liverpool's Anfield showdown with Manchester City that afternoon.
City hard man De Jong began to wonder whether his compatriot might have second thoughts, though, after a typically uncompromising challenge curtailed Babel's involvement after only 17 minutes and ruled him out of tonight's must-win Champions' League meeting with Debrecen in Budapest.
Who needs enemies: De Jong's crunching challenge forced good friend Babel off
A sheepish De Jong telephoned soon after the 2-2 draw to offer his apologies and check whether their night out was still on and was relieved to be told their friendship had survived the pain and frustration of Babel's latest setback.
A peripheral figure for most of his time at Anfield, Babel saw City's visit as an ideal opportunity to press his claims for a key role against the Hungarian champions and revive not only Liverpool's faltering European campaign but his career on Merseyside.
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