Cap­tain Kuyt leads Feyeno­ord to Dutch league ti­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE HAGUE: Vet­eran cap­tain Dirk Kuyt scored a hat-trick on Sun­day as Feyeno­ord beat Her­a­cles Almelo 3-1 to win their 15th Dutch Ere­di­visie ti­tle and the first in 18 long years for their fer­vent fans.

Kuyt, 36, who re­turned to Feyeno­ord in the twi­light of his ca­reer say­ing he wanted to lead the team to the Dutch cham­pi­onship, scored his 100th goal for the club in the first minute to set­tle nerves through­out Rot­ter­dam. He dou­bled the lead in the 12th, then put the re­sult beyond doubt with a penalty kick shortly be­fore the end.

Thou­sands of fans in the city cen­tre watched on large screens and roared in de­light af­ter Kuyt’s early opener and again 11 min­utes later. The party truly be­gan across the port city when Kuyt grabbed his third in the 84th minute.

“My dream has come true,” Kuyt told Fox Sports amid scenes of ju­bi­la­tion at Feyeno­ord’s De Kuip sta­dium.

Coach Gio­vanni van Bron­ck­horst’s team bounced back in style to take the ti­tle in the fi­nal round of the league sea­son af­ter slump­ing to a shock 3-0 de­feat last week to fel­low Rot­ter­dam team Ex­cel­sior.

“I have ex­pe­ri­enced a lot in my life as a foot­baller, but this is the most beau­ti­ful mo­ment of all,” an emo­tional Van Bron­ck­horst told NOS Ra­dio 1.

Ajax, who se­cured a spot in the Europa League fi­nal on Thurs­day, started the day one point be­hind Feyeno­ord and beat Willem II Til­burg 3-1 to re­main sec­ond.

The Am­s­ter­dam club can now turn their fo­cus to the fi­nal against Manch­ester United in Stock­holm on May 24. De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons PSV Eind­hoven fin­ished third.

Feyeno­ord have long been a mem­ber of the elite top three of Dutch football, along with Ajax and PSV, but the Rot­ter­dam club have strug­gled in re­cent years.

Feyeno­ord’s his­tory features the Nether­lands’ first ever Euro­pean Cup win, when they came from a goal down to beat Celtic 21 af­ter ex­tra time at Mi­lan’s San Siro sta­dium in 1970.

The club also are two-time win­ners of the UEFA Cup — in 1974 and 2002.

Van Bron­ck­horst was lucky to hold onto his job last year af­ter the team slumped to seven straight de­feats, but the club kept faith in the for­mer Feyeno­ord, Barcelona, Arse­nal and Rangers de­fender and he de­liv­ered.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Van Bron­ck­horst sin­gled out Kuyt for praise, say­ing he coped well when he did not start sev­eral matches this sea­son, mak­ing way for other in­form play­ers.

“I am so happy for him,” Van Bron­ck­horst said.

Feyeno­ord’s Dirk Kuyt shows off the cham­pi­onship tro­phy af­ter win­ning the Dutch Ere­di­visie on Sun­day.

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