Understanding why Dirk Kuyt is a Liverpool cult hero

Adam Brown

Dirk Kuyt is a player who didn’t always steal the spotlight, but achieved cult hero status for his tenacious approach to the game. Signing for Liverpool from Feyenoord for a fee of around £10million in 2006, Kuyt had a reputation as a finisher, and it didn’t take long for the Dutch forward to make his mark at Anfield.

Signing players from the Dutch Eredivisie always raises concerns for fans. Generally, the standard of the league is fairly low, so inevitably, there are examples of players who have failed to deliver when arriving in England’s top flight – Afonso Alves and Jozy Altidore we are looking at you.

On the flip side, players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie are two of the best Dutch strikers of all-time. But where could we rank Dirk Kuyt? He’s by no means a flop, but also cannot be considered as one of Holland’s best forwards. This problem alone meant that rival supporters could rarely understand why the former Liverpool striker achieved cult hero status. So why is he held in such high regard by the Anfield faithful?

It didn’t take long for the new forward to start scoring. In his first year at the club, Kuyt managed to erase any concerns that fans may have with a respectable 14 goals. But he wasn’t just limited to goals – he had a unique style, one that fans could appreciate. Mario Balotelli could have learnt a lot from the Dutchman’s tireless working.

Look at Dirk Kuyt: I can think of far more vaunted wide-men, and yet he was the sixth top scorer in the entire Premier League last season, and the league’s sixth top assist-maker, with not one single winger ahead of him. Given that he doesn’t take the corners and free-kicks that help players rack up assists, that’s a great contribution, even before considering his work-rate and general team-ethic. He’s not flash, but he delivers.

Rafael Benitez (2010)

The current Newcastle United manager summed it up perfectly in 2010. As well as the 71 goals that Dirk Kuyt totalled up over his Liverpool career, he was also frequently amongst the assists. Of course, most fans will be aware of the Feyenoord striker’s work-rate, but it is unfair that the striker is considered as a player who “just works hard”; the former Liverpool man did so much more.

Kuyt could’ve scored three goals in his whole career at Liverpool and be remembered as a cult hero if they were all from the FA Cup match against Manchester United in 2012; a hat-trick against Liverpool’s biggest rival. If a player like Roberto Soldado did the same against Arsenal, whilst Spurs would probably have bottled it and drawn 3-3, Soldado would be remembered much more fondly by the Lilywhites. This is where Dirk Kuyt excelled, he was a big game player; he delivered when it mattered.

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Dirk Kuyt consistently haunted Everton. On the face of it, he didn’t look like the hardest player to defend – he was never going to beat a player for pace or dribble by the entire defence, but he was always in the right area.

The Dutchman is one of Liverpool’s most clutch players ever. Reliable under any big pressure situation, whether it was taking a Champions League semi-final-winning penalty or a 102nd minute equaliser against Arsenal in the league; Kuyt would deliver. Nerves of steel. When you have a player who remains humble after scoring so many important goals, how can they not be respected? Manchester United fans agree…

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The Feyenoord forward has created a legacy which will keep him fondly remembered by the Anfield crowd forever. He isn’t a story of a player like Tony Hibbert whose legacy is formed from loyalty; Kuyt offered more. The former Dutch Footballer of the Year created memories for the supporters, but also shared the bad times, too. Whilst the Liverpool man didn’t leave empty-handed with a League Cup medal, it could have been so much more. Finishing runner up in the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, Kuyt’s legacy could have been much brighter.

Does Kuyt make our best 12 Dutch players to grace the Premier League list?

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