Liverpool's hard-working forward Dirk Kuyt is determined to
help Liverpool win number six in Athens so he can bring a winners' medal home
for his sick father Gerrit.
Kuyt says his dad won't be able to go to the final against
Milan because of his illness. He's been to a number of games at Anfield this
season, but feels the journey to Athens would be too much. Travelling to Merseyside
and staying at Dirk's home is less difficult for him, and that is what he's
going to do for the final.
Dirk explained: "Unfortunately, my dad won't come to the
final because the travelling would be too much. He'll watch the game at my
place and, hopefully, we can bring the cup home and celebrate together."
Dirk says his dad has always been around when he's played
football, but has never been the type to shout out orders on how to play: "He
has been there watching me play football from the age of five and I am happy he
has been able to watch me this season. He is not the sort of person who talks a
lot and never gives me advice. But we just have to look at each other to know
what is meant."
Gerrit's cancer needed surgery just as Dirk arrived at
Anfield last summer, a situation that upset the former Feyenoord player: "It
was the hardest time of my life when I came here and he was a few days away
from a big operation. It is very difficult for any family person if their dad
has cancer. And it was an extra problem for me being in another country. I saw
him every day in Holland and although England is close, it seems far away when
your dad is sick."
That distance is shorter now that his father's health has
improved since the surgery and Dirk sees him much more than perhaps he thought
he might: "Now he comes over to home games and stays with me for the weekend.
That means a lot to me."
Kuyt's got the type of attitude that endears a player to the
Kop – although fans appreciate skill and have seen some of the world's best
players over the years, the players who work their backsides off in a game will
always be appreciated. Dirk works his socks off and he knows how much the supporters
love him: "The crowd has been incredible to me from the first moment of my
debut against West Ham. The minute I stepped on to the pitch, I felt I had been
a Liverpool player for a long time."
If he scores the winner on Wednesday he'll be a Liverpool
hero for a long time too.