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20 June 2004

You are playing football no a Saturday night in a EUropean CHampionship. THings are going really well; lots of attacknig play, you are leading 2-0 and you are as good as in the Quarter Finals. As a national coach, what more can you want?
Over the past few weeks/months, the Dutch press has done nothing but slaughter you and try to make you look like a bad coach who does not know what he is doing. There you are, things are looking up, the stadium in Portugal is full of Orange people, the team is winning. That should show them who is boss.
YOU are the only one who gets to decide who plays, not the press. You'll show them. So in a flash of anger, you take your best player off the pitch! That will show them who is boss!!

As the 4th official holds up the sign with num ber 19 in the air, Arjan Robben does not believe his eyes. Nor does the rest of the world. The best man on the pitch. The Czech players are almost dancing with joy now they are relieved of that pain of a man on the left flank. You bring on a midfielder to 'consolidate'.

Minutes later, the team is competely lost, system's gone out of the window and at the end of the match, the scoreboard shows 2-3 for the Czech republic. Holland will most likely go home. The press will slaughter you the next day (thank God Holland does not have SUnday papers). But YOU know you were right. It was not your fault. Your players failed you yet again. It wasn't you. It never is. Never has been. Never will be. You don't make mistakes.

And that is what you tell the world at the press conference afterwards. You tell the world Robben was not fit and you were afraid that he might not last the match. No, RObben had not indicated at all that he was tired or wanted to come off. It was just a thought you had. And since you are the boss, the players should simply listen to you.

Thanks Dick. I don't think we ever had a coach that honoures his name so much.


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