Different footballers take different approaches to what they do. Because of this some receive adulation and praise while others illicit apathy or even disdain from fans.
Dirk Kuyt, belonging to the former category, has recently announced his retirement from football. So it’s now even more apparent to look at why he’s been the subject of several love affairs.
Undoubtedly there has been more prolific, more high profile, or even more successful Dutch strikers. But Kuyt, now back home in Feyenoord, continues to ooze class even more so off the pitch than he did on it.
Kuyt has always spoke glowingly about his former clubs and teammates and has always been honest regarding career decisions. An honesty that resonates with fans and one that they appreciate among players. This professionalism has meant a legacy in both Liverpool and Feyenoord that doesn’t purely rest on good performances.
An ever larger indication of Dirk’s selflessness off the pitch is his charity work in the form of the Dirk Kuyt Foundation. Launched in 2006, Kuyt uses the privileges football has given him to reach disadvantaged children and help them get involved in sports.
Oh, and he even shows up in pubs to have a drink with the fans.
— THE LFC POLL (@TheLFCPoll) January 31, 2017
Not to negate his goalscoring record, of course. Contributing 71 goals over 285 appearances for Liverpool and just under 200 for Feyenoord over two spells at the now Dutch League winners. Kuyt also transferred his remarkable work rate to Fenerbahce and retained it at international level for the Netherlands.
Though none of his goals may have been particularly remarkable, his consistence and drive made him popular wherever he went.
He stepped up in big games, too; firing in important goals against Manchester United in the FA Cup and against Cardiff in the League Cup Final. His international career also proved successful, playing for over ten years for the Netherlands. Most recently, Kuyt has enjoyed a renaissance at Feyenoord and has led them to clinching their first title of the 21st century.
The two-time Dutch Golden Boot winner and 2006 Dutch Footballer of the year has been in fine goalscoring form for Feyenoord despite arriving back there at the age of 32. The playing style that made him so popular with the Anfield faithful though, hasn’t changed:
Through his work ethic he inspires players, and he is so incredibly important for Feyenoord. I really would not question him. Kuyt is really a great addition.”
Kenneth Perez – 2015
This work ethic meant that Kuyt only missed five games over seven seasons for Feyenoord, which included a record 179 consecutive appearances. A remarkable statistic in any league, Kuyt was willing to make sacrifices for the team regardless of little niggles that might have kept some players on the sidelines
Some attackers may be remembered for lightning speed or their ability to beat defenders with ease. Kuyt however ensured his legacy with an impeccable work rate and a selflessness that persists even off the football field. One that in being noticed by teammates, managers, and fans, cemented a respect that supersedes performances or goals.
Granted, a tidy goals tally and a consistent string of performances are welcomed. But what is essential for cult hero status, as Kuyt holds in Liverpool and Feyenoord, is a passion and drive to always give everything in anything that he does.