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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dirk Kuyt


Dirk Kuyt, born 22 July 1980 is a Dutch footballer who plays for Fenerbahçe as a forward.

Kuyt began his professional career with FC Utrecht in 1998 and quickly became part of their first team. He spent five years at the club and in his final season he won his first senior honour, the Dutch Cup, and was chosen as the season's Dutch Golden Shoe Winner. Following this, he left Utrecht in a €1 million transfer to Feyenoord. He became the club captain in 2005 and was a prolific goalscorer at the Rotterdam club; he was the club's top scorer for three consecutive seasons, the top goalscorer in the 2004–05 Eredivisie season, and the 2005–06 Dutch Footballer of the Year. Kuyt missed only five games over seven seasons from 1999 until 2006 and appeared in 179 consecutive matches between 2001–06, striking up a fruitful partnership with fellow Feyenoord teammate Salomon Kalou.

He left Feyenoord after three years, having scored 71 league goals in 101 appearances, and joined Premier League side Liverpool for £10 million. He made his Premier League debut late in 2006 and became part of the first team squad. He scored in his first ever UEFA Champions League final with Liverpool against AC Milan.

Kuyt scored several important goals for Liverpool elsewhere, including seven goals in the 2007–08 Champions League, including a goal in the quarter-final against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and in the semi-final against Chelsea, and two penalty kicks against Everton in the derby the same season. He scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool against Manchester United in March 2011. After coming on as a substitute, his extra time goal at Wembley for Liverpool against Cardiff City in the 2012 League Cup Final helped win the trophy for Liverpool, and was also his first trophy as a Liverpool player.

He made his international debut in 2004 and has represented the Netherlands at three major international tournaments, the 2006 and 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008.

Feyenoord

At Feyenoord, Kuyt immediately became a fans' favourite with his continued goal scoring success. His first season saw him net another 20 league goals. The opening game of the 2004–05 season marked Kuyt's first ever hat-trick against De Graafschap. He later went on to score three in the 6–3 victory against Den Haag and ended the season as the Eredivisie's top scorer with 29 goals—a career high.

In 2005 Kuyt was handed the Feyenoord club captaincy and went on to have a third successful season with the club, scoring 25 goals in all competitions. He formed a golden duo with Salomon Kalou, nicknamed K2.
Kuyt during his time at Feyenoord

Over the summer of 2006 Kuyt was again linked with moves to many top English clubs, most notably Liverpool and Newcastle United. Rumours started in May with Dirk Kuyt stating "I am happy at Feyenoord but I would like to play in the Premier League. Kuyt completed a move to Liverpool on 18 August for an undisclosed fee.

Kuyt missed only five games over seven seasons from 1999 until 2006, making 233 appearances. Between March 2001 and April 2006 he played 179 consecutive matches.
Liverpool
2006–07 season

Upon joining Liverpool, Kuyt stated "I only wanted to leave Feyenoord for a really big club, and that is what Liverpool are. They are a fantastic big club and it will be a real pleasure to play here.

After sitting out the first game Kuyt made his Liverpool debut as a substitute against West Ham on 26 August 2006. His first start came against PSV in the Champions League and he has been first choice in most games since. He immediately got praises for the new defensive approach by a striker. In his third start for the club on 20 September 2006 Kuyt scored his first goal against Newcastle United in a Premier League game at Anfield, and followed up with another against Tottenham Hotspur in the next game. He scored his third goal for Liverpool with his father watching the game at Anfield, contributing to Liverpool's 3–1 win over Aston Villa. Two weeks later he bagged a brace, as the only scorer in the Reds' 2–0 victory against Premiership newcomers Reading.

Kuyt won much praise for his early performances, with the Daily Mirror stating: "The Dutch striker has the look of a cult hero in the making" and The People reporting that he is "propelling himself towards iconic status. One of the reasons for his early popularity is his post match courtesy to the fans. After each match he walks to every corner of the ground, and applauds the Liverpool supporters.
Kuyt (left) with former teammate Xabi Alonso at Liverpool

On 20 January 2007, Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring against Chelsea after only 4 minutes after a Peter Crouch flick-on. Liverpool went on to defeat the champions 2–0. It was the first time Rafael Benítez had defeated José Mourinho in the Premiership. It was also the first goal scored by Liverpool against a top four club in the league in the 2006–07 season. Kuyt moved his league-goal tally into double figures by scoring the first goal in the game against West Ham on 30, January 2007.

Kuyt played a key part in Liverpool's penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in the semi-finals of the 2006–07 Champions League. Firstly in extra-time he had a goal disallowed for offside from Xabi Alonso's strike. Kuyt also scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out, and scored a consolation goal in their 2–1 defeat to Milan in the final.

2011–12 season

On 21 September 2011, Dirk Kuyt scored his first goal of the season in a 2–1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion in the 83rd minute in the third round of the League Cup. He did not score for the rest of 2011, missing a chance to get his 50th league goal on 1 October 2011 with a saved penalty against Everton, a game Liverpool went on to win 2–0. On 8 October, Kuyt was announced as having taken up an advisory role with his first club in football, Quick Boys. Kuyt's next goal was a crucial 88th minute winner in a 2–1 victory against Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on 28 January 2012. He went on to score his 50th league goal for Liverpool the following week in a 3–0 victory over Wolves, becoming only the fifth player to score 50 or more goals for Liverpool in the Premier League. After coming on as a substitute, Kuyt scored Liverpool's second goal in the League Cup final against Cardiff City on 26 February; the game finished 2–2 after extra-time, with Liverpool winning on penalties - Kuyt scoring one of them.

International career

When Marco van Basten took over as coach of the Dutch national team he dropped many established players, including strikers Roy Makaay and Patrick Kluivert. Kuyt benefitted as in September 2004 he made his international debut in van Basten's first game against Liechtenstein. He has been a permanent fixture in the Dutch squad ever since, making the starting line-up for eleven of the Netherlands' twelve 2006 World Cup qualification matches.
Euro 2008

Kuyt was selected for the Dutch squad for Euro 2008. On 9 June, he played in their opening Group C match, a 3–0 victory over 2006 World Champions Italy, assisting in two goals, his most notable act being the header that provided the link between Giovanni van Bronckhorst's crossfield pass and Wesley Sneijder's goal to make it 2–0 on 31 minutes. On 13 June, Kuyt contributed his team's second in the next game of Group C, a 4–1 victory over 2006 World Cup finalists France by opening the scoring with a ninth minute header from a corner, taking his tally of international goals to eight. During Euro 2008, Kuyt was employed as a winger, partnering with Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart in the midfield due to the team's change of formation from 4-3-3/4–4–2 to 4–2–3–1.
Post Euro 2008

Kuyt scored 3 goals in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. During a friendly against England, he opened the scoring less than ten minutes after kick-off, pouncing on Rio Ferdinand's poor back pass.

2010 World Cup

Kuyt was included in the preliminary squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 27 May 2010, Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk announced that the player would be part of the final squad of 23 participating in the competition.

At the finals, Kuyt scored Holland's second goal in the 85th minute of their 2–0 win over Denmark in their opening group match on a tap-in after Eljero Elia's shot hit the post. In the quarter-final match on 2 July against Brazil, Kuyt flicked a corner on to Wesley Sneijder who headed the ball into the net giving the Dutch in a 2–1 win. He also assisted the goal scored by Arjen Robben against Uruguay in the semi-finals. Kuyt started all seven matches for the Dutch who finished as runners up to Spain and finished the tournament with one goal and three assists.

Post 2010 World Cup

On 2 September 2010, Kuyt scored a penalty as Holland began their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a 5–0 away win against San Marino.On 12 October 2010, Kuyt injured his ankle in Holland's fourth Euro 2012 qualifier against Sweden and was out of action for four weeks with the injury. On 25 March 2011 Kuyt scored Hollands third goal in a 4–0 win against Hungary for the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Four days later he scored twice in a 5–3 win against the same opponents. On 8 June 2011, Kuyt scored a 90th minute equaliser for Holland against Uruguay, leveling the match to 1–1, with Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez netting the opening goal of the match. Holland went on to lose to Uruguay on penalties. Kuyt scored the fourth goal in Holland's record 11–0 win over San Marino. Kuyt headed in his seventh international goal of 2011 in a 3-2 loss against Sweden.

Personal life

Kuyt's wife Gertrude has found favour in the Dutch media for her down-to-earth attitude. She continued to work as a nurse in an old people's home after marrying Kuyt until their daughter, Noelle, was born. Kuyt and his wife now carry out extensive charity work off the pitch. Most notably, he and his wife set up the Dirk Kuyt Foundation to help disadvantaged children in his homeland and the Third World. One of the ways the foundation raises money is by selling DK-branded clothes.
Kuyt's father, also called Dirk, died of cancer on 29 June 2007.
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