Van Persie excited by final chance

Netherlands striker Robin van Persie is delighted to be potentially 90 minutes away from holding aloft the World Cup trophy.

The Arsenal ace intends to replace the giant picture of Diego Maradona cradling the World Cup he has at home with one of himself doing exactly the same thing.

Maradona was Van Persie’s hero as a boy, the legend he looked up to as he vowed to make a career in the game.

Little could the 26-year-old have known, growing up in Rotterdam, that he would one day grace the game’s finest stage as well.

But that is what Van Persie will do on Sunday when Holland go for World Cup glory.

Then he will have the chance to replace that picture.

"I have a really big picture of Maradona on the wall at home in my games room," he said.

"It is an unbelievable picture of him holding the World Cup.

"He is on his team-mates’ shoulders and he is holding that trophy with passion. If we win I want that picture with me holding the World Cup, having hopefully scored in the final."

It is hard to imagine what Amsterdam would turn into should that dream become reality.

Reports of jubilant Dutchman leaping into the many canals in sheer joy at what the Oranje have achieved in South Africa fits perfectly with Amsterdam’s party image.

But even the more restrained members of society are expressing their happiness in spontaneous fashion, offering an image of what England could expect should they ever reach the promised land.

"I spoke to two friends of mine in Rotterdam and they were trying to explain what it is like," said Van Persie.

"Holland is just upside down. It is unbelievable. Everybody is drinking, having fun, swimming in the canals. It is crazy. Everyone is so happy.

"That is what is really nice. With the game we all love we can make people so happy. We just need to push on one more time.

"Then I don’t know what will happen."

Holland have been here before of course. Twice.

The ‘Total Football’ team created by Rinus Michels is widely acknowledged to be one of the best ever. But they were beaten by hosts West Germany in 1974 and four years later, with Cruyff no longer involved, another host nation overcame them in Argentina.

Yet that era remains the yardstick the current Holland side must be judged by.

For, while they were competing in their ninth major semi-final on Tuesday night, they have collected just one trophy, Euro 88 when Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten were in their pomp.

"It is a bit difficult because you have to fight against the generation of 1974 and 1978," said Van Persie.

"They were unbelievable. They are legends, Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and so on.

"You grew up with their names in your face. When those people say anything in the press or on a TV programme everybody listens because of what they have achieved.

"But somehow, we have a chance to do it.

"If we win it for the first time it will be unbelievable because basically it means that we have done better than them."

One reason put forward for Holland’s success is their team spirit.

On so many occasions in the past the Dutch have been riven with in-fighting.

There was supposedly one argument this time around involving Van Persie and star man Wesley Sneijder but coach Bert van Marwijk quickly put a lid on the trouble before it could escalate into anything more serious.

And, having come so far, it would be counter-productive to rock the boat now.

"I was not here when people spoke about the former sides," said Van Persie.

"But I know do know this team has an unbelievable spirit.

"If you put a camera inside our hotel you would see us playing table tennis or making jokes.

"Everybody is playing cards and talking to each other which is important in order to achieve things.

"When you have a group of players where half of the team is not talking to each other, when one man does not like another, or when someone is not happy when someone else scores, you are not going anywhere."