You don’t have to be a native Dutch speaker to have enjoyed the video featuring Dirk Kuyt and his children that was circulated across the internet in the summer.
In the 90 second-long clip, the former Liverpool forward reveals that he is returning to Feyenoord, the club he represented for three years between 2003 and 2006 and whom his kids support, following his exit from Turkish side Fenerbahce. Kuyt’s sons and daughter are visibly delighted by the news, just as the thousands of fans who gathered at the De Kuip stadium for his official presentation also were.
“One of the disappointing things from my first spell is that I never won a trophy,” the 35-year-old told those who had flocked to the ground on a warm July day. “I certainly have the ambition to do that this time. Feyenoord’s financially difficult period is behind us, and a very talented team has been put together.”
The statement went down well, but no-one could have expected Kuyt to make the impact that he has. At the time of writing, only Ajax’s Luuk de Jong (13) has scored more goals in the Eredivisie than the ex-Netherlands international’s 11, with Kuyt’s strikes playing a big part in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side’s rise to second place, just three points behind Frank de Boer’s Ajax outfit. There is growing hope in Rotterdam that the club could end their long 17-year wait for a league title this term.
Kuyt has always been known as a team player, someone who is willing to put a shift in for his manager and sacrifice himself for the collective. Such an attitude saw him regularly deployed out on the flank for Liverpool, where he could be relied upon to track back defensively, and he even spent time playing as a wing-back at international level in Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation at the World Cup last year.
At Feyenoord, though, he has always been known as a prolific marksman. In his first spell at the club, Kuyt netted 83 times in 122 appearances in all competitions and finished as the Eredivisie top scorer in 2004/05 with 29 goals, beating the likes of Salomon Kalou, Arouna Kone, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jan Venegoor of Hesselink to the prize.
After nine years away, Kuyt has simply picked up from where he left off, with memorable hat-tricks claimed against Heerenveen and AZ within the space of a week in late October. He may now be 35, but Kuyt remains extremely fit: he has played every minute of Feyenoord’s 14 Eredivisie encounters this season, as well as two full domestic cup games.
He has brought more than just goals to the team, too: the captain leads by example from the top of the pitch, working tirelessly with and without the ball and encouraging his team-mates to do the same. The adoration within which he is held on the terraces provides an invaluable link between squad and supporters, while his vast experience is of great benefit to his many younger colleagues.
Ajax and PSV remain favourites to lift the Eredivisie title in May, but with Kuyt rolling back the years at De Kuip, Feyenoord are daring to dream again.
About the Author – Greg Lea
Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.