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  Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Feyenoord revive glory days
Feyenoord's Pierre van Hooijdonk previously played in Britain with Celtic and Nottingham Forest
Feyenoord on their way to a second Uefa Cup triumph

Feyenoord's victory in the Uefa Cup final over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday went some way to redeeming what has been a miserable season for Dutch football.

For a country that pioneered Total Football and the idea of developing young players its absence from this summer's World Cup has prompted a spot of intense navel gazing.

Italian clubs don't give a toss about youth development
Feyenoord assistant coach Johnny Metgod

No wonder then that Feyenoord's assistant coach Johnny Metgod described reaching the final, which was played in the club's very own De Kuip (the Tub) stadium, as a "fantastic achievement."

"To get to a European final is out of this world for a Dutch club," adds the former Nottingham Forest and Spurs player.

"If there ever was to be a European League then we certainly wouldn't be in the top 10," he told BBC Sport Online.

Feyenoord assistant manager Johnny Metgod
Metgod played for Real Madrid as well as Forest

"The difference between us and the likes of Inter Milan is millions and millions and millions of pounds. Clubs like that can buy whoever they want."

Clubs with big budgets can not only buy whoever they want but can also afford the luxury of large squads.

Again that was not true of Feyenoord, whose pursuit of the Dutch title faded - Ajax won that crown - in pursuit of the Uefa Cup.

"You need 18 or 20 good players, but over the last three or four games we lost out on the league because we were playing with the same team every game.

"We wouldn't be able to do what Manchester United did and go and win at Ipswich with so many key players missing."

Not that Metgod regrets Feyenoord's success - far from it.

He says their European adventure - Freiburg, Rangers, PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan and now German champions Borussia Dortmund have all been disposed of along the way - toughened up the players mentally.

"We have become very difficult to beat and the confidence is growing all the time."

Third way

Dutch clubs like Ajax might have pioneered the idea of nurturing their own players, but the Bosman ruling quickly negated the economic advantages of that policy.

Other big European clubs were happy to let Dutch clubs do the hard work of developing players and then come along and snap up the finished product.

"If you look at Italian clubs they don't give a toss about youth development," said Metgod.

Feyenoord's Australian international Brett Emerton
Brett Emerton seems destined to leave Feyenoord

"They say whatever it costs we can afford to buy. That's an unbelievable advantage."

Which means that Feyenoord have had to navigate a third way.

The club has not neglected its youth academy - 2m a season is diverted to that - and the presence in the team of Robin van Persie, Said Boutahar, Civard Sprockel and Glenn Loovens is testament to that policy's success.

But Feyenoord have also brought in and developed players from South America, like the Brazilian Leonardo and Bonaventure Kalou from the Ivory Coast.

"Holland is an in-between stage for talented youngsters who don't yet want to make the move to Italy, but who are happy to learn in an attacking league like the Eredivisie," says Metgod

Tasted defeat

It is a league that allows players, like Brett Emerton who seems destined to move to the Premiership this summer, room to make mistakes.

"It doesn't matter that Emerton might play three poor games for a Feyenoord. In England he couldn't do that. He would have to perform in every game. He's going to need time to adapt."

When Metgod was a player he tasted defeat with AZ 67 Alkmaar in the 1981 Uefa Cup final loss to Ipswich as well as with Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup-Winners' Cup final against Aberdeen.

However on Wednesday his team got better luck and Feyenoord regained the cup competition they last won back in 1974, when they beat Spurs 4-2 on aggregate.


Semi-finals, 2nd leg

Semi-finals, 1st leg

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