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Kuyt, Dirk

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DIRK KUYT 2006-12by Neil Godfrey & Dave Usher



Date of Birth - 22/7/80Nationality - DutchPosition - StrikerGames - 285Goals - 71Club Hons (Lpool) - 2012 League CupIntnl Hons - Holland CapsOther Clubs - Quick Boys, FC Utrecht, Feyenoord, Fenerbache
When Dirk Kuyt arrived at Anfield inAugust 2006, he came carrying a weight of expectation that few othernew Liverpool signings in the previous 15 years had known. ManyLiverpool fans believed that the coming season would finally end thelong wait for the league title, and that a prolific goalscorer would bethe final piece in the jigsaw.


Of course it didn’t work out that way, with a big part of the problembeing a lack of goals in crucial games. The jury may still be out as towhether the Dutch striker is capable of firing the Reds to the title,but one thing that is beyond dispute is that as long as he wears aLiverpool shirt, he will give his absolute all trying to do just that.


Dirk started out as a winger, signing his first professional contractwith FC Utrecht at the age of 18. He remained with the club for fiveseasons, scoring 51 goals in 160 appearances. Towards the end of hisspell there he re-invented himself as a striker, and it was in thiscapacity that Feyenoord signed him in 2003.


In his three seasons with the Rotterdam club, Dirk established himselfas one of the most prolific marksmen in European football, netting 71times in 101 games. This tremendous record saw him called up to theDutch national side in September 2004. His international career hasseen him play mainly on the right of a front three, but after the 2006World Cup he displaced Ruud van Nistelrooy as the Netherlands’ maincentral striker.


His goal record, and just as crucially his prodigious workrate, alsomade him a target for Rafa Benitez, who tracked him for a year andeventually beat off competition from a number of other teams in orderto get his man. Dirk made his Liverpool debut as a second-halfsubstitute in a 2-1 win at home to West Ham, and instantly demonstratedwhy he had been so popular with the Feyenoord fans.


Dirk scored his first Liverpool goal against Newcastle the followingmonth, and he reached double figures in his first season with astunning goal at Upton Park. He quickly struck up good understandingswith both Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch, and his unselfish andenergetic style of play made him a huge favourite of Rafa Benitez.


Like Ian Rush in his heyday, Dirk played the striker role as the firstline of defence, constantly chasing down and harrying oppositiondefenders in order to regain possession for his side. Dirk’s strengthand aerial ability were also valuable assets, as much for providing anoutlet to relieve pressure as for providing an attacking threat,although his hold-up play was sometimes hampered by the one obviousweakness in his game, which was a variable first touch.


Dirk has shown some cool finishing for his goals, and in that fixtureat West Ham in January 2007 he proved himself capable of terrificlong-range strikes as well. He also managed to get himself on thescoresheet in the CL final against Milan, but his header proved to beno more than a consolation strike in the end.


Every bit as much as his performances on the pitch, it was Dirk’sinfectious character that won over Reds fans. He wore his love of theclub, the fans and the city and people of Liverpool on his sleeve, andwithin months of signing had strongly suggested a desire to remain atLiverpool for the rest of his career.


The fans’ respect for Dirk was reinforced further by the dignified anddedicated way that he applied himself while his father has beenseriously ill with cancer. Kuyt snr presented his son with the DutchPlayer of the Season award at an emotional ceremony in August 2006, andhappily recovered sufficiently to come over to Liverpool two monthslater to see Dirk score against Aston Villa. Sadly he would suffer arelapse and passed away in the summer of 2007.


As if all that wasn’t enough to admire Dirk for, he used the proceedsfrom his commercial contracts to set up and fund his own charitablefoundation, helping some of the poorest people on earth in countriessuch as Nepal and Ghana, as well as people in deprived urban areas inhis native Holland.


Despite a respectable goal tally in his first season, it was clear thatDirk was never going to be a 30 goals a season man, and his form in hissecond season at the club was as variable as his first touch. Heendured a terrible spell in mid season (probably in no small part tothe death of his father that summer), with one game at Ewood Parkespecially painful to watch. His form and confidence were at an alltime low, and eventually he was switched from a striking role to theright side of midfield. He re-invented himself in this role, and whenBenitez settled on a 4-2-3-1 system Kuyt found himself the first choicein the right sided attacking role.


Despite certain limitations in this position, he continued to getamongst the goals and also had a decent number of assists. His displaysin the second half of the 2008/09 season were one of the main reasonsthe side pushed Manchester United all the way in the title race.


Over the next couple of years Dirk's form was very much up and down.He'd excel in the big games, especially on the European stage, butwould sometimes struggle against the weaker sides in the Premier League.


When Luis Suarez arrived at the club in January 2011, he and Kuytstruck up an immediate rapport due to Suarez speaking Dutch from histime at Ajax. Andy Carroll's injury problems presented Kuyt with theopportunity to forge a partnership with Suarez and the pair hit it offwell as Kenny Dalglish transformed the reds' fortunes in the 2nd halfof the 2010/11 season. Kuyt scored a famous hat-trick againstManchester United at Anfield and followed it up a year later by hittinga late winner against them in front of the Kop in an FA Cup tie.


Dirk also scored a crucial goal at Wembley in the League Cup Final, buthe had started that game on the subs bench and that would be aincreasingly regular occurrence. At the end of that season Kuyt signedfor Turkish side Fenerbache to bring to an end a six year spell at theclub in which he delighted and infuriated in equal measures.


Regardless of whether he played well or badly, Kuyt never ever hid andalways put a shift in. That's why he remained popular with the fanbasedespite sometimes looking like he couldn't trap a bag of cement or passwind. What Dirk lacked in talent he made up for with sheer willpower,and the guy had balls like grapefruits and would never shy away frombig penalty kicks, converting crucial ones in cup shoot outs as well asin derby games.


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