Kuyt balances Dutch forward line
The Netherlands' "Fab Four" has a fifth member, and he is the embodiment of this Dutch team's approach under coach
Kuyt is the reason why
"Everyone is entitled to an opinion, that's good," Kuyt responded. "Dutch players like to think and talk about football but, at the end of the day, the coach picks the team." It was typical of the player, unpretentious and putting the team first. These are characteristics he learned in Katwijk, a small fishing village on the west coast of Holland, where he was born and grew up.
Kuyt is a rarity among Dutch footballers who succeed abroad: by his own admission, he lacks the technical ability of
"I grew up as a normal player, a striker who scores goals but also worked very hard," Kuyt said. "Basically, I was the same as I am now only I practised more then. Even at an early age, my mentality was to work hard. Putting in a lot of effort has always come naturally to me."
This is the Katwijk way: Kuyt's father, Gerrit, was a fisherman who was out at sea five days a week. The young Kuyt started playing for Katwijk's amateur side, Quick Boys, when he was six. He was soon rising through the youth teams and, when he was 10, his father gave him an ultimatum: "He said I must do the thing I liked the most, and that if I was a fisherman, I wouldn't be able to play football." Kuyt chose soccer though he reckons he would have turned out to be a good fisherman too.
That decision has been a blessing for Van Marwijk, whose byword in this new-look Dutch approach is pragmatism. Kuyt scored in Holland's opening-game 2-0 win over Denmark and unselfishly set up Sneijder for what turned out to be the winning goal in the Round of 16 win over Slovakia. He also provided the assist in the win over Brazil, flicking on Robben's corner for Sneijder to head home.
Kuyt has always known that his mentality gives him an edge over other players, though he has never forgotten the advice from
Kuyt averaged eight goals a season as a winger at Utrecht, until his breakthrough campaign in 2002. Then new coach
The beaten finalists had just sold
In his first season at Feyenoord, he scored 20 goals in 34 games, and the following season he scored 29 goals in 34 games. He made it four successive seasons with over 20 goals when he hit another 22 in his final season, when he was captain of the club. "At all the clubs I played for, there was always the question, "Is he going make it?' because I don't have the talent of players like
Holland's previous coach
Van Marwijk's appointment as Holland coach has allowed the pair to reunite and both men are now reaping the benefits. "We have dreamed of reaching the World Cup final our whole lives and everyone expects us to get there now but this will be our toughest game," Kuyt added. "We still have a lot of hard work to do." As he has already shown, no-one is prepared to work harder.