Whether Dirk Kuyt was playing for Liverpool, Feyenoord or Holland, he was rarely the most talented player in the team, yet he was always one of the most loved and appreciated.
Over a 19-year professional career, Kuyt represented Utrecht, Feyenoord, Liverpool and Fenerbahce, also winning an impressive 104 caps for the Netherlands. And he earned a place in the hearts of all the fans he represented.
We’ve looked back on some of Kuyt’s best moments to explain why he was so universally loved.
*That* hat-trick against Manchester United
Such is Kuyt’s charm, he can claim to have scored simultaneously the best and worst hat-trick of all time.
A Liverpool player scoring a hat-trick against Manchester United is always special, but to do so from a cumulative distance of less than six yards is simply outrageous.
— Goal (@goal) March 6, 2020
A man for the big occasion
Kuyt’s goal record may never have been prolific, but he had a handy habit of scoring in the big games.
He scored five times against Everton, four against Arsenal, four against Manchester United and three times against Chelsea at a time when the Reds’ rivalry against the Londoners was one of the biggest in England.
He also netted the winning penalty against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2007 and headed home in the final against AC Milan.
And the following season he set Liverpool on their way against Inter Milan in the knockout stages.
The 2012 League Cup final
Kuyt only won one trophy with Liverpool, and it just so happens to be the last honour the club won.
The Reds faced Cardiff in the 2012 League Cup final as big favourites but struggled against their lower-league opposition. Kenny Dalglish left Kuyt on the bench until extra-time, and the forward promptly made an impact by scoring only five minutes after his introduction.
And when Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam missed Liverpool’s first two spot-kicks in the shootout, it was Kuyt who stepped up to settle his side’s nerves and lead the way to victory.
Despite beginning his career as a striker before Rafa Benitez converted him into a right winger, one of Kuyt’s finest hours came as a wing-back.
Deployed in the role by Louis van Gaal in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup against Argentina, Kuyt had the unenviable task of stopping Lionel Messi. He succeeded, and then scored in the shootout when he could not afford to miss.
On his 100th cap for Holland, Kuyt started at left wing-back, moved to right-back, then striker and finally back to right-back all in the space of 90 minutes. After the match, Johan Cruyff said Holland were “blessed” to be able to count on Kuyt.
Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
‘Scouse b*stard’ and proud
Just listen to him talk about his pride at being called a “scouse b*stard” by 60,000 Manchester United fans while playing for Feyenoord at Old Trafford.
You’re pretending you’ve got something in your eye now, aren’t you?
A fitting farewell
In Liverpool, Kuyt will always be remembered for his hat-trick against Manchester United, while he will live long in the hearts of Feyenoord supporters for an even more significant treble.
Needing a win to clinch their first Dutch title for 18 years, Kuyt captained the side and bagged all three goals in a 3-1 win over Heracles before promptly retiring on a high.
A perfect end to a wonderful career.
Once a Red, always a Red
Dirk Kuyt is your uncle at the end of a wedding. Except he’s just won the league.
Dirk Kuyt is a f***ing hero.