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31st Mar 2017

The utterly insane reason why Dirk Kuyt almost missed the 2007 Champions League final

Imagine this had happened

Darragh Murphy

For footballers, the pinnacle of a career at club level is the Champions League final.

It’s a date that all players involved in the competition look forward to and it’s a winner’s medal that is cherished more than most.

Champions League winners are part of an exclusive group while scorers in Champions League finals belong to an even more exclusive group.

Dirk Kuyt is a part of the latter, having found the net with a consolation header at the very death of Liverpool’s 2007 defeat to AC Milan.

And while he fondly remembers his goal, he almost played no part of the 2-1 loss as a near-miss with teammate Peter Crouch almost ruled him out of the game.

In a far-ranging interview with Four Four Two, the versatile Dutchman explained how close he came to missing out on one of the biggest games of his career. Kuyt said:

“To play in that Champions League final was a fantastic achievement, but losing it is one of my biggest disappointments.

“We didn’t control the game enough in order to hurt them, and they scored two goals at the right moment. In the end I scored our goal a bit too late, or we could have come back like Istanbul.”

“To be honest, I was happy that I was playing in that match at all, as before the final there had been an incident that almost prevented me from taking part.

“When we were in the training camp before the final, the squad went go-karting. I didn’t join in, as I wanted to rest a small injury, but I went along to watch and picked a safe-looking spot to stand beside the track with Rafa.” He continued:

“Out of nowhere, Peter Crouch drove straight at me at roughly 35 miles per hour. He couldn’t brake! The only thing I could do was to jump in the air, and in the end I just managed to jump over Peter, and he crashed into cardboard boxes behind me.

“I was within a whisker of having my ankles torn to pieces, and would surely have missed the Champions League final. It was incredible that I saw him just in time and could jump over him!

“Crouchy’s face was as pale as death, he’d had some kind of blackout. Fortunately everything was all right.”

We’re not in the position to suggest what managers should or shouldn’t do but perhaps taking a team go-karting days before the biggest game of their lives isn’t the best idea in the world.

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