Our first three editions of ‘Cult Heroes’ have seen us wax lyrical about moments or performances defined by sheer and utter brilliance.
From Jay-Jay Okocha defying the laws of physics to Grafite waltzing through Bayern Munich’s defence as if they were training cones, it’s been quite the ride so far.
But this week, the term ‘brilliance’ is being defined in a whole new way. For it’s not a snippet of jaw-dropping genius, it’s the sheer unique brilliance of one of the Premier League’s most iconic hat-tricks.
Step forward, Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman is the epitome of a cult hero, a tireless workhorse with a distinctive look that fans simply fell in love with.
Did he have the talent of Steven Gerrard? No. Did he have the swagger of Luis Suarez? No. But Liverpool fans didn’t care, because what Kuyt brought to the table was just as important.
He may not have been blessed with pace, but he was a wizard out on the wing for Liverpool, never giving opposing defenders a moments rest and scoring important goals.
You don’t make 104 appearances on the international stage if you haven’t got something special and Kuyt certainly did.
Now, there are many Kuyt moments down the years that we could chatter enthusiastically about, but none of them come close to his hat-trick against Manchester United in 2011.
What made it so special? All three goals were scored from a combined distance of around six yards.
Suarez was the genius, the architect behind it all, but it was Kuyt who applied the finishing touch, as he so often did.
Never has a trio of goals resembled the player scoring them quite like that.
It was the hallmark of efficiency and intelligence, two descriptors that made Kuyt such a fearsome yet underrated enigma.
Some will say ‘they were tap-ins’, but to be in the right place at the right time is a skill so often overlooked in football.
You don’t score three ‘tap-ins’ in one game without possessing a unique ability to almost predict the immediate future.
If you stuck Gary Goals from Sunday League on the pitch that day against United, you can bet your bottom dollar he wouldn’t have been in those positions.
Kuyt didn’t have the athletic presence of most modern-day wingers, he couldn’t burst past players with Usain Bolt-like pace.
But he’s one of the few players to have made the most of every morsel of his talent by actually using his brain whenever he was on the pitch, something many current wingers should take note of.
To seal his unique legacy, Kuyt bowed out of the professional game two years ago after scoring a hat-trick on the final day for Feyenoord to win them the Eredivisie title.
A truly unique player!
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