Born in Maastricht, Netherlands on 15 August 1974, Boudewijn Zenden was a Barça participant between 1998 and 2001 as properly profitable 54 caps for his nation, scoring seven targets within the course of. 4 of these caps got here within the 1998 World Cup in France the place a 23 yr previous Zenden helped the ‘Oranje’ to fourth place within the match. We spoke to him about his World Cup expertise.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is nearly upon us and 24 years in the past you performed within the 1998 match in France. What do you bear in mind about that World Cup?

It was my first massive match. Later I’d play in two European Championships however that World Cup was my first vital date with the nationwide facet. I used to be one of many youngest within the squad and that World Cup is considered one of my greatest reminiscences. We had an ideal workforce, a squad able to profitable the World Cup. As in all match, you get higher because it goes on and we had been higher in every recreation.

That well-known penalty shoot out in opposition to Brazil…

We acquired by way of every spherical and confronted Brazil within the semi-finals and I used to be within the beginning XI. It was a draw after 90 minutes and in the long run we misplaced on penalties. It was actual disappointment as a result of we actually although we might win that World Cup.

Would you’ve got taken a penalty if you happen to had nonetheless been on the sector?

Maybe. However you by no means know.

The third and fourth place play off; a bittersweet goodbye.

After getting knocked out, taking part in within the third and fourth place play off was too powerful for plenty of us. You at all times wish to win nevertheless it was tough. As properly, we had been taking part in in opposition to Croatia who felt to complete third or fourth was spectacular and so they had been extra motivated. They beat us 2-1 however the nice reminiscence I’ve is that I scored our objective in that recreation.

That occurs lots in soccer, you’ve got reminiscences that are painful and good on the identical time. It occurred to me at Liverpool as properly within the 2007 Champions League closing in opposition to AC Milan. We misplaced 2-1 however partially you may at all times say that you simply performed within the Champions League closing and that’s one thing optimistic. Nevertheless, if you happen to lose you’re at all times left with a foul style in your mouth. That occurred to me within the 1998 World Cup. However, it’s a nice reminiscence because it was an excellent match. The Dutch followers had been spectacular and it was one massive celebration.”

I scored a bitter candy objective within the third and fourth place play off

Boudewijn Zenden

That squad was stuffed with nice gamers, 11 of which had a Barça connection: Reiziger, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer, Kluivert, Cocu, Overmars, Bogarde, Davids, Van Bronckhorst, Hesp and your self. What was the connection like?

We had an ideal squad. Nearly all of the gamers had been at prime golf equipment, Juventus, Manchester United, Barça…virtually each starter was taking part in for a Champions League profitable candidate. It was an ideal group of gamers and there have been no issues in any respect throughout on a regular basis collectively.

Within the dressing room stuffed with stars, the leaders had been these veterans with nice expertise like captain Frank de Boer and Bergkamp and Davids amongst others.

What was the construct up like with the squad?

That yr there was loads of safety but in addition we had been allowed loads of freedom. Lately it is completely different; then we might go away the lodge simply, go for a stroll or go to the Seaside Golf equipment in Monaco the place we spent virtually three weeks collectively. Now, you virtually cannot even go away your room, however to have that likelihood is nice for bringing the squad collectively. Now it is tougher for safety causes, social media and the like. That was a optimistic factor for us.

Any specific reminiscence of the keep in Monaco?

I bear in mind I used to be sharing a room with Jaap Stam…I might sleep calmly with him subsequent to me! We each performed for PSV on the time after which later he went to Manchester United and I went to Barca.

Numerous issues occurred and there are fairly just a few tales from the time we spent collectively however I particularly bear in mind the day once we had some free time and we went to a Seaside Membership in Monaco and we employed some jetskis. Two workforce mates had a collision and of the jetskis ended up in dangerous form however luckily nothing occurred to the 2 gamers.

Which was probably the most particular second on the World Cup?

My most particular second – and the sentiments it led to – was once I was within the beginning XI for the semi-final in opposition to Brazil. To be within the workforce, listening to the nationwide anthem; you go searching and also you see half the stadium in orange, with all of the followers cheering us on, the remaining, yellow for Brazil, it was an unforgettable second.

The very best second was being within the beginning XI for the semi-final in opposition to Brazil

Boudewijn Zenden

Let’s return to the current, 24 years on. One other World Cup is right here with 16 Barça gamers known as up by their nationwide groups. Two, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis are with the Dutch workforce coached by Louis van Gaal, the Barça boss once you had been on the Membership. What are your ideas?

I believe there are clearly different groups who’ve extra particular person expertise then the Netherlands however like Van Gaal has stated, the favorites do not at all times win the World Cup., What issues is that you’ve got a squad that battles as a workforce, as buddies .

Van Gaal thinks they’ve an opportunity to win it however every little thing can be depend upon the gamers’ kind. You need to be trustworthy as properly and Memphis is simply getting back from damage, Van Dijk will not be at his greatest and a number of the Ajax gamers are additionally off form…however once you placed on that ‘Oranje’ shirt and play as a workforce, something can occur.

As a coach you already know Louis van Gaal properly however within the 1998 World Cup the coach was Guus Hiddink. What are the similarities and variations?

They’re very completely different. Each have coached in Spain however they’ve very completely different types, every one wanting their workforce to play in addition to potential. Van Gaal, in 2014, was the one who stated that with a 4-3-3 we’d not get to the place we needed to be and performed with a 5-3-2 formation, three heart backs and two wing backs. I believe on this World Cup he’ll do the identical. Dumfries is vital on the appropriate hand facet nevertheless it appears he is likely to be injured; all coaches have issues with damage. Senegal with Mané, England with Maddison…we may have a greater thought when the groups get on the market on the sector; proper now it’s arduous to say.

It’s a very uncommon World Cup, in the midst of the season. Are there favourites?

Usually, earlier than the World Cup, you’ve got three or 4 weeks of preparation and buddies. Now, nothing; you go from taking part in within the league to the World Cup in per week. We should wait to see who will get out on the sector as a result of, for instance, France have an ideal workforce however they’ve vital gamers injured like Kimpembe, Kanté, Pogba…I’ve my doubts. Germany are at all times sturdy in tournaments then you’ve got Brazil and Argentina. The latter have accidents and Brazil have probably the most balanced squad with nice gamers in each place. We are going to see.

What do you consider the opposite blaugranes on the World Cup?

Barça have nice gamers and for that purpose loads of internationals on the World Cup who will get by way of the group part. I wish to see Lewandowski as prime scorer however to try this he should get out of the group with Poland and it’ll not be straightforward. The highest rating will come from considered one of groups who go far within the match.

I at all times prefer to see the younger gamers on the match, folks like Gavi and Pedri with Spain. Will probably be good to see them taking part in matches within the World Cup for the expertise they may recreation for the workforce.

After the semi-finals in 1998, Netherlands got here shut once more in 2010 within the closing in opposition to a Spain facet stuffed with blaugranes. How was that for you?

I do not forget that I used to be very nervous forward of the ultimate. My brother in regulation, John Heitinga, was despatched off when Netherlands had been taking part in properly however with 10 gamers it was powerful. Spain knew easy methods to maintain the ball and conceding a objective in further time is at all times powerful. We tried to hold on for penalties after which there was an opportunity for Robben on the counter however Casillas acquired a foot to it. At that second, had we gone 1-0 up, we win that closing; moments like that may determine a World Cup.

What initiatives are you engaged on now?

Till final July was with the PSV B workforce as a strikers’ coach. The Membership needed me to remain within the youth arrange however I made a decision to not. However, I nonetheless have relationship with them and the Membership and some weeks in the past I traveled with them however I haven’t got an official function. My son performs within the youth groups at PSV and for the time being I’m working as an analyst on TV.


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