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Friday, 13 September 2013

News Media Watch from Liverpool FC: Mirror: Dirk Kuyt the Kop hero

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Mirror: Dirk Kuyt the Kop hero
Sep 13th 2013, 08:21

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

Dirk Kuyt's work-rate and attitude won over the hearts of the Anfield faithful, and that's why he is a Terrace Hero, writes Jim Boardman.

Dirk arrived at Anfield in 2006 with a decent goalscoring record, having bagged 83 goals in 122 games for his former club Feyenoord.

If he could transfer that ratio to the Premier League he was nailed on to be a club legend for Liverpool.

As it was, he never managed anything like that return as a Liverpool player - finishing up at Anfield on 71 goals from 285 appearances - but he had the ability to find the net in games when it really mattered, games where the goals would be long remembered.

Even so, it wasn't just his goals that made him into a terrace hero.

Soon after arriving he was asked how his name was supposed to be pronounced, the question no doubt aimed at clearing up the confusion over his surname.

He cleared that up - 'Kuyt' rhymed with 'Shout' - but he also corrected us on how to say his first name. He told us it was a bit like the English name, 'Derek', and for a lot of us that nickname stuck, somehow making him that little bit more down to earth.

He might not have been prolific in front of goal but he could never be faulted for his work rate, earning him another nickname - 'Duracell Bunny'.

Every game Dirk played he gave everything he had, he fought for that badge and earned that shirt. Those of us watching from the stands never had the skill to become a professional player for our club but we know we'd have worked ourselves into the ground had the chance come our way. Dirk worked our backsides off for us, as well as his own.

Possibly his most memorable game for Liverpool was in the Merseyside derby at Goodison in October 2007. It was a pretty memorable game in its own right, Everton eventually going down to nine men having been in front at half-time through a Sami Hyypia own goal. It was a game where Gerrard got replaced by Lucas because, in the words of Rafa Benítez, "You can have too much passion." But it was a game where Kuyt wrote his name in derby folklore.

Both Liverpool's goals that day came from the spot after Everton red cards. Dirk scored both penalties, keeping cool in the hothouse of a Merseyside derby, getting the winner in the dying minutes.

As far as Everton were concerned he shouldn't have even been on the pitch for that second spot-kick. Earlier in the game his determination to win the ball, and the game, saw him launch himself in the direction of Phil Neville, both feet in the air, like his life depended on stopping that ball. He didn't make contact with Neville and got a yellow card for it but Everton were fuming. They probably still are.

It's doubtful there was any malice in it at all but Dirk was determined Liverpool weren't going to lose that game.

He'd been a Liverpool player almost five years before he got his first goal against Manchester United, the first of a hat-trick that gave Liverpool a 3-1 win and saw Alex Ferguson refuse to speak to any media afterwards, including his club's own TV channel.

A year later and he broke their hearts with the 88th minute winner, at Anfield, this time in the FA Cup 4th round. That and the hat-trick were the only goals he scored against that particular enemy.

He saved his first proper European goal for the Reds for the last minute of the Champions League final itself, right at the end of his first season.

Sadly it wasn't enough to trigger another amazing comeback against AC Milan for Rafa Benítez's side who were two down by then. He'd also found the net in the semi-final - scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot in the shoot-out against Chelsea.

Despite his efforts he only got one winner's medal in his time at Anfield, from the Carling Cup in his last season. He came on as a sub in extra time, scoring what looked like the winner five minutes later. As it was Cardiff equalised and it went to penalties - Kuyt one of Liverpool's successful takers.

But it's not these big games - and his big goals in them - that made Dirk Kuyt a hero. It's that workrate, that attitude, that willingness to do whatever he was asked, in every game, low key or with the eyes of the world on him. He did what we'd do if we'd been lucky enough to wear that famous Red shirt.

He became one of us, did Derek.

Source: Dirk Kuyt

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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