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Chinese soccer fans cherish interaction with Ruud Gullit


Ruud Gullit (right) Photo: Billie Feng

Though China lost to the Netherlands 0-2 in a friendly soccer game held on June 11, the fans still had something to cheer about. Ruud Gullit, a former Dutch international star, was invited to Beijing to watch the match. Chinese soccer fans had an opportunity to interact with the former star during a conference held in the Holland Pavilion at the Workers’ Stadium on June 10. All the fans greeted Gullit with warm applaud as he ascended to the stage.  

At first, Gullit expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to be invited to Beijing for a second time. He was amazed by the city’s unbelievably fast development. “When I came to Beijing for the first time, there were not as many cars as there are today; they were all bikes.”

Chinese fans still clearly remember Gullit’s dreadlocks when he played professional soccer during the 1980s and 1990s. “I was a young guy much involved in Regular Music. I liked their dreads and I wanted to do something new with my hair. That’s how it all started.” 

Gullit said he came into contact with soccer when he was just a small baby. “When your father or your mother throws you a ball, the first thing is how you react to that. Some kids just let the ball roll past them, and other kids will take it in their hands, but I kicked it as hard as possible.” 

Gullit’s started to play professional soccer at the age of 17. His early career was greatly influenced by Johannes Cruijff, who was regarded as the best soccer player in the Netherlands. “Of course playing with him in Feyenoord was a privilege for me. He was willing to teach me all the things that I needed in my further career.” Then Gullit went on to play for PSV Eindhoven. One of his major opponents in the league was Ajax, coached by Cruijff, but PSV won the championship for two consecutive years. When asked whether playing against Cruijff’s team sparked his will to compete, Gullit said, “I went to Eindhoven only because I wanted to become a champion. When Cruijff was the coach of Ajax, it inspired me to play well against him and we did beat them all the time. So you perform better against a better opponent.”

Gullit in AC Milan Photo: Baidu.com

In 1987, Gullit joined AC Milan of Italian Serie A in search of greater competition and stimulation. “AC Milan was an opportunity for me to play at the highest level. It was not easy to adapt there in Italy. It was a totally new environment, and you had to learn the language and new customs, but I did well and had an amazing career also in Italy.”

Gullit looked surprised when hearing that Chinese fans think of him as “Terminator of Maradona. “I think Maradona was the best player we ever played against. He was also an inspiration in our time. I played against him several times and I had great admiration for him.”

A fan asking questions Photo: Billie Feng

The Netherlands boasts of a world-class soccer team but winning the World Cup championship is a dream they have yet to fulfill. When talking about the World Cup, Gullit said, “We were unlucky for a couple of times. Twice we played against the home team, like Argentina. It was almost impossible for us to win. We are not good at defending, so we always want to take the initiative in the game.” He also expressed his hope that the Netherlands would win the World Cup soon. 

The Netherlands beat Russia in the U21 match on June 9, and Gullit is very optimistic about the younger generation of players in his country, “Most of them have already played for a long time on a reasonably high level. Some of them play abroad. That’s a good thing. You know, England has no U21 players in the first team, so they don’t have much experience and cannot compete well against other teams. We would like to give young people a chance in Holland, so I have very good hope for our national team’s future. 

Gullit works as a commentator for soccer matches in many countries such as England, Germany and South Africa. In fact, Gullit told the media in 2012 that he would consider working in China. When the question was brought up again during the interview, he said, “If the opportunity and conditions are right, I would consider coming to China.”


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