The most senior member of the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2004™ squad has no intention of following the lead of a number of his team-mates in retiring from international football. "I'm only going to retire when the moment comes that I'm not picked any more," Pierre van Hooijdonk told euro2004.com.
The 34-year-old won his 42nd cap in Lisbon last night as the Dutch lost their semi-final 2-1 to Portugal, a defeat which marked the end of Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars and Jaap Stam's time in the team. Others, including Edwin van der Sar, Ronald Waterreus and Phillip Cocu, all 33, and another 34-year-old, Paul Bosvelt, could follow suit as a new era, and possibly a new coach, are ushered in.
Van Hooijdonk remains available for selection, however. "For me, it's still a great honour to be picked and I wouldn't take the decision to stand down myself," he said. The striker had a late chance to add to his 12 goals in the second minute of added time at the Estádio José Alvalade, only to fire his free-kick into the wall. "You think you're going to have a big chance to score a goal from that position but I didn't hit it well enough," he said.
The Fenerbahçe SK forward had no gripes about the defeat, saying: "There's no doubt they were the better team and deserved to get through. I can live with the defeat, even though it's a big disappointment for us. They played better and we conceded two soft goals - from a corner and a short corner. If you make mistakes like that you'll get punished against a quality team."
De Boer, who extended his Dutch appearance record to 112 against Sweden, also picking up an injury which ruled him out of the semi-final, told euro2004.com: "I've played my last game. I'm going to retire. It was a big blow for me that I couldn't play in the semi-final." The 34-year-old central defender featured in five major tournaments stretching back to EURO '92 after making his debut 14 years ago.
Stam, 32 this month, and Overmars, 31, were both part of the Dutch sides which lost on penalties in the semi-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000™.
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