Every club has their glamour players, you know the type; the ones who showboat their elaborate skills, score 30 yard screamers and perform carefully choreographed celebrations. These players are a joy to watch and contribute to the excitement of the Premier League; however, a club cannot succeed solely with these players. A club also needs another type of player, one that works hard for the team but receives half the accolades, an unsung hero if you like. Dirk Kuyt is one of these players.
The forward had a reputation as somewhat of a goal scoring sensation during his time in Holland, netting 71 times in 101 games for Feyenoord; a remarkable record. This prompted Rafa Benitez to fork out £10 million for the Dutchman, hoping that he could fill the boots of previous strikers such as Michael Owen and become a prolific scorer for the Reds. However Kuyt has experienced an unusual career at Anfield.
For his first season at the club, Kuyt was utilised in his preferred role as a striker and had a mixed campaign. He finished the season with 12 goals, with highlights such as a Champions League Final strike yet there was still a sense of uncertainty about whether or not Kuyt had what it takes to rank among the best strikers. The following season saw the arrival of Fernando Torres and it was then that Kuyt’s role in the Liverpool side was really defined. He was forced out onto the right wing in order to accommodate for Torres and has since made this position his own. Many players would have expressed their anger at constantly being played out of what they would call their natural position, you only have to look as far as Nicholas Anelka to see how some people react when shifted into a wide role, however Kuyt did the opposite. The Dutchman realised that if he was going to make the position his own it would have to be done through hard work and grit determination. His work ethic can be seen by watching any Liverpool game in the last few years; he is constantly running and works not just for himself but for the others in the team.
Kuyt has become a kind of Mr Reliable for Liverpool and even in hard times, none of which are harder than the moment, he can be counted on. He has a knack for scoring important goals and has gained a reputation as a ‘big game player’. This reputation was developed through goals last season, such as the extra-time winner against Standard Liege and a late winner in a comeback against Manchester City. The Dutchman also netted last week in the Merseyside derby, a match which is considered monumental by both Liverpool and Everton fans alike.
You can bet that Dirk Kuyt did not picture himself playing this role when he signed his contract in 2006, yet he has achieved success as a right winger through his hard work and professional attitude. He is one of the first names on the Liverpool team sheet week in week out and the fact that he often keeps more natural wingers out of the side is a testament to how good he is in his role. He is consistent for Rafa Benitez’s side but does not always get the credit he deserves. He is most certainly one of the Premier League’s unsung heroes.