Whether for the Reds or his coun­try, Kuyt’s a win­ner

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

A REG­U­LAR for club and coun­try, fan favourite Dirk Kuyt played an in­te­gral role as the Nether­lands be­came the first Euro­pean na­tion to qual­ify for the World Cup last June.

The fly­ing winger has also en­joyed first team action at Liver­pool af­ter join­ing the club in 2006.

Since be­ing awarded his first cap by Marco van Bas­ten in 2004, Kuyt has been an ever-present for his coun­try, play­ing at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008.

With 58 caps, Kuyt, who played ev­ery match of the Nether­lands qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, is hop­ing to set alight South Africa 2010 af­ter the team made a dis­ap­point­ing exit in Ger­many three years ago.

Kuyt chat­ted to Fifa.com about Dutch hopes for 2010, the hon­our of play­ing for Liver­pool and the joy of giv­ing back to the game. Fifa.com: Did the qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign run as smoothly from your per­spec­tive as it seemed to for on­look­ers?

Kuyt: It went even bet­ter. The qual­i­fy­ing stages are al­ways dif­fi­cult. We won ev­ery game, so we are more than happy with the re­sults. Teams like Scot­land and Nor­way are strong, but be­cause we played very well it looked eas­ier than it was. Has coach Bert van Mar­wijk added some­thing to have the team do­ing so well in the qual­i­fiers?

The qual­i­fy­ing stages went well over the last cou­ple of years (prior to Van Mar­wijk’s ar­rival) be­cause we qual­i­fied for the World Cup in Ger­many and the Eu­ros in Aus­tria and Switzer­land.

When the new man­ager came, it also went well. I think we al­ready had a very good group and we have a good man­ager, who is build­ing this team to make it bet­ter. Ger­many 2006 ended dis­ap­point­ingly for the Nether­lands. Is South Africa 2010 a case of un­fin­ished busi­ness for the Oranje?

(In 2006) We had a good few games in the group, and then we got Por­tu­gal and it was a bit of a missed chance – we felt we could do some­thing more. We still have a few of the lads in the team, and for some of them it is the last chance to do some­thing in a World Cup.

I be­lieve we have a very good squad, with a lot of tal­ent. Even if (the World Cup is ) only six or so months away we can still progress with this team and bet­ter than last time. Has the team set tar­gets or lim­its on how far you can go in South Africa?

You try to win ev­ery game and win the tour­na­ment, but when you look at other coun­tries like Spain, Ar g e n t i n a , Brazil, France or Italy, they are coun­tries with a lot of qual­ity.

It will be very dif­fi­cult to lift the tro­phy at the end, but we will try to reach the high­est po­si­tion pos­si­ble. We have a strong be­lief, al­though we know we have very good play­ers, we are try­ing to con­tinue with our team­build­ing and to progress in this (area).

I think what we have to do is keep go­ing as a team,

do but also try to be­come closer with each other and be­come even stronger friends.I think very small de­tails will make the dif­fer­ence at the World Cup. In pre­vi­ous years there have been prob­lems in the Nether­lands squad, so is it a good g roup that now makes up the squad? I think this is a very good group. Most of the play­ers have been with each other for a long time.

I can’t see any prob­lems at this stage and I can’t be­lieve that it (squad dishar­mony) will hap­pen dur­ing the World Cup. At club level, Liver­pool has suf­fered a few earl­y­sea­son losses, but how do you feel the sea­son is shap­ing up?

I was very dis­ap­pointed in the beginning that we got beaten twice. Af­ter that we picked up and won a cou­ple of games in a row.

But then we had an­other de­feat away at Stam­ford Bridge with Chelsea. It was a very dif­fi­cult game, but I still think we could’ve done more. It is a very tough league, a very long sea­son and there are still chances for Liver­pool. Liver­pool’s 19-year ti­tle drought is of­ten men­tioned. Is that a fac­tor which plays on the minds of the play­ers at An­field or does it just add to the determination?

As a player for Liver­pool, you al­ways want to win ev­ery­thing, so at the start of ev­ery sea­son you aim to se­cure as many tro­phies as pos­si­ble. This is a spe­cial tro­phy for every­one, for the fans, for the team and for every­one who loves Liver­pool, you can see that. You seem happy and set­tled in the team. Are you en­joy­ing life on and off the pitch at Liver­pool?

I am a very happy per­son. I love the city of Liver­pool – very nice, warm and re­spect­ful peo­ple. I love Liver­pool Foot­ball Club.

Ev­ery day that I can be there makes me more than happy. I’ll try to play as well and as long as pos­si­ble for Liver­pool. You seem pop­u­lar with the An­field crowd. How much of an in­spi­ra­tion is the at­mos­phere?

To play in Eng­land is un­be­liev­able. If you play for Liver­pool it is un­be­liev­able and the sup­port­ers are an ex­tra di­men­sion.

I have never seen such good sup­port­ers be­fore I came to An­field. I was used to play­ing at Feyeno­ord with a fan­tas­tic crowd, but when I came to An­field it was an­other level. It re­ally helps us and I’m sure it helps us when we are in dif­fi­cult times, so the sup­port­ers are im­por­tant to us.

Do you have thoughts about where you will be play­ing your club foot­ball in the long term or any thoughts of re­turn­ing to the Nether­lands?

I have just signed an ex­ten­sion of my Liver­pool con­tract, so I am more than happy. I am just try­ing to keep go­ing (at Liver­pool) for as long as pos­si­ble, and we will see what the fu­ture brings. I will al­ways have a spe­cial feel­ing for Feyeno­ord. It was, and still is a very im­por­tant club for me, but at the mo­ment I am very happy at Liver­pool. – Fifa.com

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