It’s always nice to see a prodigal son ‘return home’ … and even more so when they do well! And thus, we arrive at the story of Dirk Kuyt and his renaissance at Feyenoord!
Dirk Kuyt is an icon, on Merseyside. He drove Liverpool’s forward line for six seasons, and the fans adored his work-ethic and finishing. The Dutchman participated in memorable Champions League nights, and clutch Premier League games. However, Dirk Kuyt’s finest footballing moment occurred during his last game as a professional, far away from the Anfield lights.
Feyenoord Rotterdam was Dirk Kuyt’s spiritual home. During his first stint at the club, he developed into a frightening finisher. He scored a phenomenal 83 goals, across 3 seasons. At this time, Kuyt resembled future teammate Fernando Torres, thanks to his blond mop, red and white strip and prolific poaching. The fans worshiped him, and he was made club captain the season before he left. His form attracted big clubs, and Kuyt sealed a move to Liverpool in 2006. However, throughout his time in England, he still cherished his beloved Feyenoord and aimed to return.
Naturally then, after nine successful years away, the Dutchman leaped at a renaissance. He was 36, and his contract at Fenerbache (the employer he journeyed to after Anfield) had expired. Yet despite his age, and seemingly diminished abilities, Dirk Kuyt meant business. The Forward had not lost his striking instinct. He scored 23 goals, during his return season, and dragged the club to KNVB Cup victory. A happy homecoming indeed.
Despite cup success, Kuyt dreamed of the Eredivisie title. However, the Dutchman’s fantasy was unrealistic. Feynoord had endured 19 straight unsuccessful attempts, by 2016. Nevertheless, the striker would retire at the end of the season, and he wanted to leave as a league champion. Kuyt’s teammates all laughed when he claimed that they could win it, they thought that PSV and Ajax were too strong. But, with two games remaining, the league would have been theirs if they won one more match…
And then, tragedy! Kuyt’s team blew their first opportunity. Excelsior, a team marooned in mid- table, beat them 3-0. The Dutchman’s dream teetered on a knife edge. Feynoord had to win their last game, to stand any chance of glory. After 18 seasons as a professional, Dirk’s dream boiled down to his final match. Would he secure the fairy-tale ending he deserved …?
On the 14th May 2017, De Kuip (Feynoord’s stadium) was a cauldron. The ground shook, as fans greeted their team with banners, scarves, ticker tape and pyrotechnics. Feyenoord faced Heracles in their title decider. At kick off, a layer of smog covered the pitch, because of the flares and fireworks. In the first minute, through the smoke, emerged a signature shock of blond hair. Dirk Kuyt lashed the ball past the Heracles goalkeeper. 1-0 …
Ten minutes later, The Dutchman headed in his second. He rounded off the scoring with a penalty, to make it 3-1. Feyenoord had done … they had won the league, thanks to a Dirk Kuyt hat trick – something I bet even the greatest Dutch player of all time would have wanted to do in his prime! He had achieved his dream, right at the end of his marvellous career.
At Liverpool and Feyenoord, Dirk Kuyt was a favourite. The two clubs also share the anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – which is a nice touch. The song rang around De Kuip during the celebrations, and Dirk Kuyt would have felt as though every word was aimed at him. There is no way that Dirk Kuyt will ever walk alone in Rotterdam, certainly not after that historic final game.