Lifting WCup is boyhood dream of Van Bronckhorst
As a veteran with only one more game left in his legs, Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst wants to live the boyhood dream of tens of millions of kids: lifting the World Cup.
''As a kid, you follow the World Cups,'' Van Bronckhorst said Saturday, a day before the Netherlands faces Spain in the final at Soccer City. ''And when the cup is lifted, it is a very special moment.''
Once the final whistle goes and all is decided, there is still the sense of suspended celebration until the captain walks up as the last of the winning team to get his medal, and finally receives the trophy. Only then does the party start for real.
Fabio Cannavaro did it four years ago for Italy, but the tradition goes back 80 years. The 35-year-old Van Bronckhorst has his own favorites, however: Argentina's Diego Maradona in 1986, Brazil's Dunga in 1994 and Cafu in 2002.
It holds little surprise that Dunga is a defensive midfielder and Cafu is a right back. Van Bronckhorst fits right in that line.
''Only a precious few players can do that,'' the Netherlands captain said. ''So it is a dream for me to lift that cup.''
And if a man is allowed to dream, why not take it one step further. In his ideal world, Van Bronckhorst would receive the trophy from Nobel Prize laureate Nelson Mandela.
''That would make it very special,'' he said. ''It would be so beautiful if I could lift the cup if he is around.''
It is almost too much a man can ask for in his last competitive game ever. Van Bronckhorst has already retired from club football, and will play his 106th and final international in 14 years on Sunday.
He really should not get too greedy when it comes to asking. His semifinal match already produced more than most defenders can hope for.
He made sure to get the Netherlands in the final by scoring the first goal in a 3-2 win over Uruguay on Tuesday - and it was with one of the best goals of the tournaments.
The captain gave the Dutch the lead with a blistering 35-meter (yard) left-foot drive that sailed past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and went in off the post, a goal which is a replay hit in the Netherlands and beyond.
In the same game, Van Bronckhorst then claimed the biggest defensive play, too, when he rushed back to head a dangerous high ball out of the goalmouth, with the goalkeeper already beaten.
He has a knack of picking winning teams and has already won league titles in Scotland, England and Spain, and the Champions League with Barcelona.
He earned the captain's armband only two years ago after the European Championship when goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar retired from international play.
And under coach Bert van Marwijk, he has made the most of it.