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Page last updated at 06:23 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 07:23 UK

De Boer queries Dutch commitment

By David Ornstein

Ronald de Boer
To be the best you sometimes have to be mean and I think that's something lacking in our culture

Ronald de Boer

Former Dutch international Ronald de Boer has told BBC Sport some members of the current squad lack the necessary pride to succeed on the world stage.

The Netherlands have failed to reach the final of any major tournament since winning Euro 1988 and De Boer says this is not purely a result of bad luck.

"I strongly feel that some players are more proud to play for their countries than we are," he said.

"Many come from a lesser background and had to crawl to where they are."

De Boer added: "Some players will do everything it takes to win things at the top level but in Holland we do it the fair way. Sometimes that can make the difference."

The Netherlands begin their Euro 2008 campaign against Italy on 9 June and play France four days later, before facing Romania in their final Group C game on the 17th.

Should they emerge from a pool that includes the reigning world champions, the winners of Euro 2000 and the team which beat them to win Group G in qualifying, many are tipping the Dutch to go all the way.

In the four European Championships following their triumph over the USSR 20 years ago, the Netherlands have never fallen before the quarter-finals.

But nor have they reached a final and De Boer feels the Dutch must show greater resolve if they are to lift their second piece of major international silverware.

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"In Holland everything is well organised, you don't really have to worry about your life," said the 38-year-old, who was part of the Dutch sides that fell short at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and 1996 and 2000 European Championships.

"To play for your country makes you proud, of course, but when you look in the eyes of players from some other countries you feel they are really, really proud.

"You see Brazil and what it does for them to play for their country - it's something really special. In Holland, OK it's special but not as special as with some other countries.

"It has something to do with our culture, we're very down to earth. To be the best you sometimes have to be mean and I think that's something lacking in our culture."

The Netherlands' preparations for Euro 2008 were disrupted by the withdrawal of Clarence Seedorf from Marco van Basten's provisional 30-man squad.

Seedorf, the country's fourth most capped player of all time but who was marginalised by Van Basten between 2004 and 2006, criticised the coach for showing him a lack of respect, adding: "It is better that Van Basten takes to Switzerland players who he trusts."

"It's very sad that Clarence is not there but in some way he is right," said De Boer of his former team-mate.

Clarence Seedorf
Van Basten wanted Seedorf to be part of his plans at Euro 2008
"There have been some situations where he has been on the bench and Van Basten has put two other players on and then give Clarence the last six minutes.

"Maybe Van Basten thinks the other players are better but if you are someone who is playing for AC Milan and are highly respected, you want to be playing, not sitting on the bench.

"Clarence is a four-times Champions League winner and you have to show him more respect. "Although I rate Van Basten highly, I think he was wrong. "

Despite Seedorf's omission, De Boer is hoping the Netherlands can show greater unity than they have done in previous tournaments.

The night before the Dutch flew to Argentina for the 1978 World Cup, Johan Cruyff, Ruud Geels, Jan van Beveren and Wim van Hanegem pulled out of the squad.

An on-going row with coach Dick Advocaat saw Ruud Gullit take similar action on the eve of the 1994 World Cup and Guus Hiddink sent Edgar Davids home from Euro '96 after the midfielder made derogatory remarks about his coach in a radio interview.

"Every nation always has a little trouble," De Boer added. "We had it in '96, in '78 when Cruyff didn't go and at Italia '90 when we had a great group that didn't perform.

"We need to be united because that's the only way to get results."


see also
Dutch substance over style
04 Jun 08 |  Netherlands
Netherlands team guide
15 May 08 |  Netherlands
Pick your Netherlands XI
23 May 08 |  Netherlands


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