Friday, February 23, 2024

Euro 2008 Thirtysomethings: Seedorf sulks as Larsson leaves it late

Simon Barlow in Editorial, European Championships 14 May 2008


Clarence Seedorf has achieved virtually everything there is to do in the game. Born in the football backwater of Surinam, he was the child prodigy who played his way into the last ‘great’ Ajax team, winning the Champions League aged 19 alongside his hero Frank Rijkaard.

He wasted no time in cashing in on his talent with a move to Italy before settling down at Real Madrid where the trophies and glory nights continued to flow. Back to Italy again to add a Scudetto and two more Champions League crowns to his glittering CV and you would think his career would be complete - having just turned 32.

But what has he ever done for Holland ?

Seedorf yesterday made the surprising call to turn his back on his country less than four weeks before Euro 2008. Following a brief telephone conversation with Marco van Basten, he spat his dummy, threw his toys out of the pram and withdrew his services from a coach he clearly can’t get on with.

“He (Van Basten) doesn’t like me, period. I hope to be part of the squad when the new coach, Bert van Marwijk starts in September,” Seedorf told Dutch magazine Voetbal International recently – clearly marking the rift.

Seedorf was ignored for the first two years of van Basten’s reign until a surprise recall in November 2006, but was reportedly ‘humiliated’ following only ten minutes of total match action in two qualifiers. To play a bit-part, for him, was something strange and uncomfortable.

Van Basten’s preference for youth over veterans did not get the job done in Germany and he will be criticised for mis-managing Seedorf if the Netherlands fail again this summer. But with 86 caps and virtually nothing to show from his international career, isn’t it worth swallowing your pride and taking a seat on the bench ?

Contrast all that to yesterday’s ‘good news’ story – Henrik Larsson’s international u-turn for one last crack at a tournament with Sweden.

‘More comebacks than Frank Sinatra’ will be the phrase used when commentators announce the introduction of Larsson the super-sub at Euro 2008. It’s a hat-trick of returns for the 36-year-old who quit in 2002 and 2006, but only because he thought he had passed the peak of his powers and effectiveness for the team.

“When I last retired, I didn’t think I’d be playing this long and that it would go this well,” said Larsson after the squad announcement.

“It will be tough to make the first team but I’ll do my best.”

Written by Simon Barlow, a professional sports writer who blogs about Euro 2008 betting at Betfair.


Simon Barlow



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