Number 6 on our list is the hardworking Dutch star who left no so long ago -Dirk Kuyt
Dirk Kuyt had become a household name in Holland. Everywhere he went people had said he wasn’t good enough and that he never had the technical ability, yet his goal scoring return for Utrecht, and more importantly for Feyernood thereafter told a different story. It was his performances for this Feyernood side that prompted Liverpool to sign the striker for around €10 Million
Kuyt had captained the Feyernood side and in his time there, had won the Golden Shoe in 2003, won the Eeredevisie Top Goal Scorer award in 2005 and was the Dutch Footballer of the Year in his final season in Holland. All in all, he only missed 5 games in 7 years for the Dutch giants and Liverpool knew they were signing a big player.
He joined on the 18th of August 2006 and would go on to enjoy a very solid – near perfect – debut season. The Dutchman scored the winning penalty in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea and would go on to grab a goal in a rematch of the famous 2005 final against A.C Milan. This time there would be no fairytale ending but with Kuyt in the side, the future looked promising. By the end of the season striker had netted himself fourteen goals in all competitions.
In his second season at Anfield he struggled in front of goal. This was due in part to his shift to the right wing and he would only go on to grab three league goals – two of which were scored from the penalty spot in the Merseyside derby. Despite his stuttering form in front of goal, he still managed eleven in all competitions and would improve this tally to his Liverpool best of fifteen goals the following season.
The 2009/10 season was one of personal achievements for Kuyt. He had often been deployed back in the striker role due to Liverpool’s injury problems up front and would go on to grab his 50th Liverpool goal in all competitions in a match against Everton – it was notably his 4th Merseyside goal. He would rack up another fine achievement on the final day of the season against Hull where he played his 200th game for Liverpool.
The next season would see one of the most memorable Kuyt moments as the Dutch hitman slotted his first hat-trick for the club against fierce rivals Manchester United. He would build on that performance as the season progressed and end the season off as Liverpool’s top goal scorer with thirteen league goals and fifteen all together.
The following season would prove to be his last at Anfield but as was to expected from Kuyt, he wasn’t about to go out on a whimper. Without a title in six years, it was only fitting that Kuyt would score in the League Cup final against Cardiff to help the reds win the trophy – a fitting reward to a loyal servant. A few months later and the Dutchman was on his way to Turkey following a €1 million move to Fenerbache. He is gone, but certainly not forgotten.
The Makings of a Cult-Hero
Kuyt may not have been the most technically gifted player the world has ever seen, nor did he possess blistering pace but what he did have is something that is all too rare in the modern day. He was committed to fighting for the cause. When the team were dead and buried Kuyt would be found endlessly chasing the ball, trying to make something happen. It was this tireless effort by Kuyt that led to some fans dubbing him the ‘Energizer Bunny’ and it is only fitting. Very few players in world football, if any, possess the work ethic that Kuyt has. But he wasn’t just a workhorse; he had genuine love for the club and would often walk to the corners of the stadium to applaud the Liverpool faithful after a match.
That aside, he had the coolest head in the game. There was no such thing as pressure to Kuyt. The record books prove this. The Dutchman missed only one of the nine penalties he attempted for Liverpool had a knack for scoring in the biggest if games – in fact, only Ian Rush and Steven Gerrard have more European goals for club than Dirk.
His work ethic and love for the club, coupled with his ability to keep a cool head in pressure situations and score important goals won over the hearts of all of Anfield, and ensured that he would go down as a true hero at the club.
Liam Bekker – @Bekkers_blog