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