As Liverpool fought to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Milan in the 2007 Champions League final it was Dirk Kuyt who netted for the Reds to give them a glimmer of hope. Although the goal came just too late to affect the outcome, it was typical of a striker who has scored again and again at the highest level and under the most extreme pressure. Kuyt had already played a key role in hoisting Liverpool into that final in Athens when he slotted home the winning goal in the semi-final penalty shoot-out against Chelsea.
When Liverpool secured the services of the hard-working Dutch striker in the summer of 2006, they beat off competition from a host of other clubs for his signature. A total of 106 goals in just four seasons for Utrecht and Feyenoord in Holland, during which he played 179 consecutive matches, had marked Kuyt out as one of the hottest striking properties in Europe.
Kuyt made it clear his move to Liverpool was a dream come true and he quickly established himself as a crucial member of Rafa Benitez's squad, scoring a raft of goals in the opening games of his first campaign. Netting two penalties in Liverpool's 2-1 Merseyside derby victory over Everton in 2007 helped secure the affections of the Anfield faithful, and his work rate, tireless running and unselfish play have endeared him to his team-mates.
Kuyt seized his chance to play for his country when Marco van Basten arrived as the Netherlands' coach. The legendary Van Basten drafted Kuyt in for his first match in charge against Liechtenstein in September 2004. He went on to feature in the Dutch squad for the 2006 World Cup and is now a permanent fixture in the national set-up. Kuyt is famous for the respect he shows supporters and makes a point of applauding all sections of the crowd by going to every corner of the ground after every match. His ability, hard work and dignified manner mark him out as an exceptional footballer.