Dirk Kuyt: Soldier of Orange

Willem van Hanegem: “In all honesty. I am not a big Kuyt fan. I find him too artificially positive in his interviews. He seems to build an image of ideal son in law. The people’s player. His football style is also not mine… But man oh man, what was he good and what was he important again for Oranje. I tip my hat.”

Johan Cruyff: “This Dutch team does not play Total Football. They have forsaken the way we developed football and how internationally we got to be revered. But something has come in the place of that creativity and dominance. And by golly, it works. It is direct and effective and it is built on passion and team spirit. Robben might be the star, Sneijder might be the tragic hero who has sacrificed himself…but the symbol of this team is Dirk Kuyt.”

And I could easily add Tiju to this list of quotable people but in all honesty, to list Tiju with De Kromme and JC would be a bit much, even for me…

But even Tiju finally sees the light. Dirk Kuyt is a phenomenon.

dirk strong

I said it here a couple of times already in the past. Every good generation of talent will be accompanied by one or two players that were totally ignored by the talent scouts in the youth system. Typical examples are Jaap Stam (made it to PSV when he was 23 years old and finally got the eye of the expert) and Jerryl Hasselbaink. Dirk Kuyt is also a player who took a long time to find a club in pro football (FC Utrecht) to give him a chance. He was signed as a pinch hitter, as he was not really productive as a striker for amateur club Quick Boys. When he went to play for Utrecht, the people who knew him said “he’ll never make it there…just not talented enough”. He did well for Utrecht and caught the eye of Feyenoord after beating the Rotterdam club in the Cup Final and scoring. When he made the step to Feyenoord for 1 mio euros, people said “he’ll never make it there, he is simply not good enough”. With Salo Kalou as his striking partner, he became a fan favorite quickly and he became top scorer for Feyenoord in 2005 with 29 goals. A career high. When Liverpool came, a season later, Kuyt made the jump for an undisclosed fee. The experts: “He’ll never make it at Liverpool, he’s not good enough.” As a striker, he actually didn’t make it. He lacked the speed and the touch in the confined spaces but his coach Benitez loved his work ethics and drive and decided to use him outwide in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

He would receive cult hero status in Liverpool as well, partly due to his work ethics partly due to his relationship and respect for the fans. He’d be at Anfield for 5 years and when it was time for Dirk to move on, Feyenoord allegedly wanted him back, initially, but later reneged on their offer as “Kuyt was getting on in age and was maybe not as good anymore”. Dirk felt snubbed and signed for Fenerbahce in Turkey, where he would play practically all games and win the Turkish title.

Dirk mexico gal


Overall Nice Guy: talking with little girl before the Mexico game

Dirk was selected for Oranje by Marco van Basten when he took over in September 2004 from Advocaat. He played his first Oranje game vs Liechtenstein, which was San Marco’s first game as coach. Van Basten dropped Kluivert and Makaay and decided to bring fresh blood into the team. He played 11 of the 12 qualification games for the WC2006 but lost his spot to Robin van Persie at the World Cup. He did play as a sub in the first game and was given the nod in the knock out game against Portugal over Van Nistelrooy, as the latter had clashed with coach Van Basten. Kuyt played an unlucky game in the striker role, missing a major chance to equalise in a game that became infamous for the number of yellow and red cards.

Kuyt did play as a starter under Van Basten at the 2008 Euros assisting two goals and scoring one. Kuyt played wide on midfield with Rafa van der Vaart and Sneijder in 2008. Kuyt started in all games in 2010 under Van Marwijk at the World Cup scoring against Denmark and assisting against Brazil and Uruguay.

dirk kuyt

Kuyt lost his spot under Van Marwijk in the 2012 Euros, with Robben played wide right and Afellay preferred on the left of the pitch. Van Gaal took over and Kuyt was surprisingly made vice captain, although he hardly played any minutes in the qualification games. Despite his success in Turkey, many people wrote him off for the World Cup. Only Van Gaal seemed to be convinced he would need the battler in Brazil and as per usual, Van Gaal seems to be right.

Dirk’s wife Gertrude is a down-to-Earth person like her hubby and she famously kept on working as a nurse while Kuyt had his run of fame and fortune. They founded the Dirk Kuyt foundation and are actively involved in supporting disadvantaged children in the developing countries.



Dirk with wife Gertrude (and kids)

Dirk has always been an underrated player, as my earlier comments attest. He is always seen as “the hard worker”. But Kuyt is more. He is a believer. He knows that with the right attitude you can perform magic. Not the magic of Robben or Van Persie. But Kuyt magic. Making things happen. Impacting the flow of the game. As Rene van der Gijp said recently: after the victory over Mexico and Oranje was back in Rio, Dirk grabbed a sponge and started to wash the players’ bus. That is Kuyt. Never complaining. If Van Gaal would say to Lens, Huntelaar or Van Persie “I want you to play right back!” they would probably repond with “Me? Why not him!”… Dirk says “Sure. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” He is very smart tactically. His positioning is pretty good. His match technique is pretty good too. He might not be able to do the Edgar Davids / Memphis Depay style trickery, or the flowing dribbles like Robben or sensational first time volleys like Van Persie, but his touch is solid. And his pass and move game above average. He can tackle, shoot, head a ball… He can do it all relatively well. And he will never let you down. So here is a guy who can play left back, left midfield, striker and right back all in the same 90 minutes.

lvg kuyt


Dirk with Mr BossMan

He earned his 100rd cap against Mexico and it meant a lot for him. Because it was exactly seven years ago on the day when his dad and biggest mate and fan died and Dirk became the 7th Dutch player to reach this milestone (behind Frank de Boer, Cocu, Van der Sar, Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Gio van Bronckhorst). He does have a record however. Because players like Sneijder and Van der Vaart reached the Oranje squad quite predictably before their 20st birthday. Dirk Kuyt was already 24 years old in 2004 when Van Basten invited him to the squad. He made his debut  with Romano Dennenboom and Dave van den Bergh. Who?? So he received the 100 caps within ten years and played for Oranje on 5 major tournaments. And right before the Mexico match he summed it up: “I always had to convince others of my qualities. But I never had to convince myself….”. Kuyt was again the motor of the team. During the last drink break he clenched his fist. Holland was 1-0 down and he screamed “Come on! We can still turn this around!!”. And they did.

dirk kids


Dirk with kids

Lots of people would love to know his secret. How can a 34 year old be so fit and strong. Well, most of it is simply genes. Kuyt is born in a family of fishermen. Generation after generation. A tough job for sure. And before he left for Utrecht, Dirkie was also working on the trawlers. But he also deployed a team of medical experts around him. Not unlike Ron Vlaar by the way. When Dirk joined Utrecht, he had a bit of a beergut, believe it or not. He met Leo Echteld at Utrecht, who also worked with Seedorf, Davids and Kluivert. Echteld would remain Dirk’s physio. He also met magnetist Henk de Gier at Feyenoord, who is specialised in stress management. And we mean literally, taking tension out of the body and muscles. De Gier assists top athletes and artists and was key in Dirk’s processing of his dad’s death in 2007. “I call him always, wherever I am, before a match. Just checking in. It works for me,” says Kuyt. Thirdly, Dirk works with haptonome Peter van den Beld, who works with Kuyt’s body and lastly there is Hammerman Jan Jan. This orthomanual therapist works in Rotterdam and Dirk sees him three times a year for a check up. “He uses a hammer, hence the name, and he does a check up to verify if all is still balanced in the body, and capable of pulling the weight. I’ve learned that all is connected. I get a lot of knocks and when you walk differently because your ankle hurts, you can easily disrupt a thigh muscle in your other leg…” Being experienced helps too. He played the most minutes for Fener this season and was the first player from outside of Holland to join the squad. “I learned that by making mistakes. Back in 2006, I just played the Champions League finals with Liverpool and decided to take a break before coming to the squad sessions. The result was: Robin van Persie was fitter than me and Van Basten picked him over me, while I had played all qualification games. That was a big learning experience for me. I need to always be busy and active.”

dirk robben


Dirk with girlfriend

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  1. “Overall Nice Guy: talking with little girl before the Mexico game”

    It was the Chile game, Jan. Look at the little flags. 😉
    Afterall we invented them for some reason, no?
    (And can you or anyone confirm that it was the KNVB the first one ever to put those little fags on the jerseys? I always thought so but never got the confirmation…)

  2. Jan:

    Wonderful article! At this point, I’m excited to read just about anything posted on your site, but I truly enjoyed this piece.

    This quote really says it all: “I always had to convince others of my qualities. But I never had to convince myself….”

    Kuyt is the type of guy who makes the entire team work — the “glue guy”. When tactics fail, star players are out form and the opposition is carving you up, this is the type of player who can turn everything around with his attitude, his work rate and his heart.

    Go Kuyt! Hup Holland!

  3. Exciting . Would love to see who will win

    I would prefer this German team to win as if we meet them in the final , LVG would be better than any Dutch coach to know how to win

    This German team is weaker compared 2 years ago . They didn’t bring Gomez this time a pity

    1. Yes, LVG should know Germany as Bayern is its core. If it is Netherlands-Germany final then I hope it works like the way we beat Spain although realistically it will be a physical fast game so we need to slow the game down.

      QUARTERFINALS, Match 59
      05 July 2014, 22:00 CET
      Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
      Referee: Ravshan IRMATOV (UZB)
      Assistant Referee 1: Abduxamidullo RASULOV (UZB)
      Assistant Referee 2: Bakhadyr KOCHKAROV (KGZ)
      Fourth Official: Noumandiez DOUE (CIV)
      Standby Assistant Referee: Songuifolo YEO (CIV)

      In 2014 WC he refereed Mexico – Croatia, Switzerland – Ecuador, USA-Germany. Irmatov refereed WC 2010: Mexico and South Africa, a quarterfinal between Argentina and Germany, and the semifinal between Uruguay and the Netherlands.

      1. In 2014 WC he refereed ….. and the semifinal between Uruguay and the Netherlands.

        I’d take the result of that match again, please … 🙂

        Hup Holland Hup!

    1. I thought Germany covered the space at the French’s half really well, the French defenders made some dubiously dangerous back-passes, something Mueller/Klose would poach sooner or later. But Germany’s defense doesn’t look stellar in 1H, without Neuer brilliant save, French could have scored that one play.

      Good first half match!

  4. Interesting point on the Comments section of this article, if we want to win this all, we may have to defeat countries that beat us in 3 finals we lost in.


    Just a thought… For Holland to become World Champion, it would probably have to face and defeat Argentina and Germany (if they defeat Belgium and Brazil). Since the Netherlands already defeated Spain on the First Round, that would be defeating the three national teams that took away the World Cup from the Dutch in the past. Nice way to get revenge, isn’t it !!!!

    1. Yes, defeat these countries to win the WC = more satisfaction than just winning WC.

      France seemed not to be able to beat Neuer. They may as well to try a long ball to the goal directly if they can win possession in the middle of the field as Neuer comes out so far, almost like a sweeper.

        1. I expected such a game, France simply lacked individual talent to disturb Germany.

          This french team is free, not sick anymore, but it lacks top class players. I don’t even consider Benzema as one. Players like Valbuena and Debuchy are average, not enough to play against Germany. Evra was shit.

          With keeping the heart Varane-Sakho-Matuidi-Pogba and bringing new players who will develop like Kurzawa, Martial, Thauvin etc. France can do semi finals in 2016.

          I still believe Germany, Belgium and Italy have a better squad. Serbia will be strong also. Spain will probably change the plans, and they have a promising new generation.

        2. Deschamps waiting too long to bring on French substitutes, especially on a very hot and humid day. By the time they came on it was too late and the game was grinding down.

  5. Never thought it would be so easy for Germany. France choked badly. I thought they had a good chance to avenge the 82 and 86 eliminations but I guess it is very hard to break a tradition. It felt like Germany didn’t even break a sweat which is good if Brazil goes into overtime today.
    Au revoir France.

    1. Neuer is good but I do not know why France did not try to have more low shot. France will be a contender in Euro 2016 for sure. They are young and Deschamps will learn from it. Isn’t this his first major tournament?

      1. Just realized during the broadcast, it was said Deschamps has never lost a World Cup match as a player/coach (until today, of course). Pretty impressive run! Valbuena reminds me of Deschamps, with more attacking flair.

  6. I hope Colombia slow the game down a bit, control the tempo and better with their counter attack. They wasted a good 4 on 2 chance.
    If I remember correctly there has not been a free kick goal yet. I am hoping Colombia can upset Brazil. If not Germany can do that in semi final.

      1. Wow, PK for Colombia. It made the last 10 min interesting but not sure if Colombia has it today.

        Brazil will miss Thiago Silva in the semi final due to 2 yellow cards. Germany will exploit this and Germany is good with set piece. I was hoping for Colombia to upset but an all European final where Netherlands defeat Germany is good to me too.

  7. Much of the first half of this Brazil – Colombia game was played with an almost out-of-control speed and intensity.

    It’s been very exciting, but I hope it doesn’t degenerate into lots of fouls and diving in the second half.

    I’ve really enjoyed watching Colombia play in this tournament and hope that they can keep up the quality today

  8. I can’t see Brazil beating Germany without Thiago Silva. All signs are pointing to a Germany vs. Holland/Argentina final.

    I would LOVE to see a Holland/Germany final. Zee Germans have had our number lately (most noticeably beating us at EURO 2012). It’s time for revenge.

    1. This Brazilian squad looks very mediocre, with or without Thiago Silva, Germany has to be the favorite. They have to also worry about Neymar, hope that knee on the back doesn’t hurt him too much. If they don’t change, Germany will eat them easy in the semi.

      2 goals from set pieces, both by their defenders. How is Fred be a starter for Brazil? (shows how unimpressive this team is). Where is Laurent to criticize Brazilian goals with no build-up plays? P.S.: Germany’s goal this AM was also from a set piece.

      1. Fred is a starter cause the other option (Jo?) is even worse. That scene where Marcelo put the ball out by a 60m pass to nobody was hilarious. Commentators on swiss tv said Brazil was playing rugby.

  9. First set of quarters is wrapped up, look forward to Jan’s preview for our match vs the Ticos.

    I have Bra/Ger and Hol/Arg in my 2 brackets with Hol beating Bra in the final. I hope Bel will surprise and beat Arg tomorrow.

    Hup Holland Hup!

  10. I know sneijder and james rodriguez play differently, but sneijder should learn a thing or two from JR especially by how JR takes the initiative, takes the team on to his shoulders and becomes the team’s “quaterback”. JR is a fantastic player, if Colombia had 10 more minutes they would have equalized easily, brazil was begging for the time!

    People around the world have made their robben diving jokes people, they should re consider looking at a few brazilian players.

    This tournament is wide open, neither brazil germany has shown their multiple world cup winning credentials, holland should focus on their own game and believe its possible because the way I see it its anybodys game

    1. Agree, all teams have their own problem. Colombia was fun to watch because of the free-flowing way of play but you can already suspect this team is not ready to win a tournament with this style of play. France did not play too badly but did not create meaningful chance until toward the end of the match. Germany played well in the first half this AM only to fizzle out in the 2nd half. Oezil and Khedira were terrible, I think. But Lahm/Neuer were awesome. Brazil showed more confidence in the first half but looked loss in the 2nd half.

      I like your comment about Holland “should focus on their own game”. We have played so far no worse than any of these teams and we definitely can win this one. Teams should be very worried about Robben’s speed (dive jokes or not). There was a play this AM when Oezil put a through-ball to Mueller who was couple seconds late, I was shouting to myself “Robben would have totally scored this!”. I would like the Oranje to come out physically fit tomorrow, RvP condition vs Mexico was quite disturbing to me but probably because the weather was inhuman. And since draw/extra time/penalties are really possible, we should be ready for this.

      Hup Holland Hup!

      1. Honestly, with his contribution the last two games, it might not be too bad for Brazil if Neymar is not playing. As for Thiago Silva, it seems Scolari had to call in a psychologist because Thiago Silva “was not behaving like a man” (read: was scared to death). Might also not be so bad to have him replaced by Dante.

  11. Just played the Costa Rica game on my son’s FIFA World Cup game.

    XBox Live set me up in a 433 with the following line-up:

    Depay — RVP — Robben

    Sneijder — Blind — Wijnaldum

    BMI — de Vrij — Vlaar — Janmaat

    We’ll see if they’ve been talking to LVG.

    1. 4-4-2?

      ———de vrij———vlaar———

      or what i feel this is 5-3-2

      Kuyt—–de vrij—-vlaar——bmi—–memphis

  12. France-Germany was a dull affair, really. German gave France very little–the usual stalwart performance–and France couldn’t create anything. Best chance at the very end of the game. Neuer is very good. Agree Deschamps was too slow getting his subs in–bad mistake.

    RE Columbia-Brazil: How does the Columbia keeper let in a free kick from 40 meters or whatever it was–a long way!? That was terrible–cost them a chance to win.

    1. “RE Columbia-Brazil: How does the Columbia keeper let in a free kick from 40 meters or whatever it was–a long way!? That was terrible–cost them a chance to win”

      Well, basically he did it the same way that great keepers like Sepp Maier and Dino Zoff did in the 1978 KW when the then-Anderlecht’s super star, Arie Haan scored for the Oranje from 40 meters (or even more!!)

      Hup Holland Hup!!!

  13. I think LVG is trying to confuse Costa Rica. Formation is not important much anymore. Kuyt, Blind, Sneijder and Wijnaldum are the runners that link defense (back 3) to offense (front 3). We will win! Hup Holland Hup! Can’t wait for the game to start.

  14. Today we expect to see what everyone was asking… Am expecting a great footballing from our team with this line up, the world will be thrilled and a message will be sent to the other teams…FEAR ORANJE THE GOLD IS OURS

  15. Terrible news for Neymar and Brazil but this Brazil team are a pretty dislikeable bunch. I’d rather see Germany win this and that says something! I’d also rather play Germany in the final if we get there. No chance against the hosts as Columbia discovered.

    Hup Oranje.

  16. Nice, wrote a long paragraph and then “you’re logged out, sorry!”. Jan please sort this out. I will donate 25 USD if you fix this simple thing. 🙂

    Anyways, I have a theory. All the experimenting Van Gaal has done with players and formations is not to find the perfect lineup and system, but to prepare the players to adapt their play quickly when a tactical change is required to beat the opponent. So far no other team has done what the Dutch have done under Van Gaal. As soon as it’s required, the Dutch kick into 5th gear, change their gameplay and so far no opponent has been able to cope with that.

  17. kuyt – oranje really need his leadership, experience, versatility, strength, determination for the wc. LVG was right from the beginning to select him.

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