ROTTERDAM (Reuters) - Dirk Kuyt remembers being ridiculed when he returned to an ordinary Feyenoord side two years ago and said they could win the Dutch title.
But the veteran forward, who will turn 37 in July, had the last laugh on Sunday when he scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 home win over Heracles Almelo that clinched the championship on the last day of the season.
In a career full of highlights, Kuyt said this title topped the lot.
“I knew when I came back two years ago that we could win the championship. And everyone laughed at me when I said so,” Kuyt told reporters as Feyenoord celebrated their first title success since 1999.
“I’ve played in a Champions League final and in a World Cup final and at very popular clubs. But this is the best moment of my career,” added Kuyt, who started out at Feyenoord before signing for Liverpool in 2006 and also played at Fenerbahce.
His goal after 40 seconds on Sunday was his 100th in two spells with the club and settled the nerves for Feyenoord, who had blown a chance a week earlier to take the title when they were stunned 3-0 by neighbours Excelsior Rotterdam.
Kuyt said he had been determined to restore Feyenoord to their former glory. The former European Cup winners, one of Dutch football’s biggest clubs alongside Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven, have failed to deliver too often over the last 18 years.
“When Feyenoord were in the top half of the log everyone used to celebrate. When we drew 1-1 with Ajax people were dancing on the table. That shouldn’t happen. You should only be satisfied when you are winning trophies,” Kuyt said.
Kuyt has not been a regular in recent months despite scoring 31 goals over the last two seasons and only played on Sunday because Tonny Vilhena was suspended.
While there has been speculation he might decide now is the right time to quit, Kuyt was playing his cards close to his chest.
“I have a clear picture of my future and so whatever happened in this game was never going to be an influencing factor,“ he added. ”But I think it is respectful to first speak with the coach and the club before saying anything.”
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Peter Rutherford