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Van Persie cherishes Oranje goal record

Published: Sunday 13 October 2013, 23.05CET
Patrick Kluivert was happy to be eclipsed as the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer by Robin van Persie, who explained why he celebrated the achievement with his predecessor.
by Berend Scholten
Van Persie cherishes Oranje goal record
Robin van Persie celebrates his 40th Netherlands goal with Patrick Kluivert ©Getty Images

Published: Sunday 13 October 2013, 23.05CET

Van Persie cherishes Oranje goal record

Patrick Kluivert was happy to be eclipsed as the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer by Robin van Persie, who explained why he celebrated the achievement with his predecessor.

With the Netherlands already qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as Group D winners, the main talking point after their 8-1 dismantling of Hungary was Robin van Persie's history-making hat-trick.

His Amsterdam ArenA treble took the 30-year-old Manchester United FC forward to 41 goals from 80 internationals, one more than current Netherlands assistant coach Patrick Kluivert, who had scored his 40th exactly ten years before Friday's rout.

Kluivert, still only 37, had no regrets about being eclipsed as his country's premier marksman. "Records are there to be broken," he said. "This had to happen one day. I am extremely happy, in fact, because Robin and I work together every single game and aim for perfection. It is brilliant for me as assistant coach that he scores so often. I am honestly happy for him to have the record. I held it for ten years and that's something to be proud of."

The former AFC Ajax, AC Milan and FC Barcelona striker had led the Oranje scoring chart since 7 June 2003, and notched his 40th on 11 October 2003 against Moldova. Kluivert, capped 79 times, succeeded Dennis Bergkamp, himself a purveyor of 37 national team goals. Before Bergkamp, however, one man kept the accolade for almost 39 years, the late Faas Wilkes, who registered 35 times in 38 matches – his record stood from 4 November 1959 until 4 July 1998.

The new title holder Van Persie made his Dutch debut on 4 June 2005 in a World Cup qualifier against Romania, claiming his first goal four days later against Finland, again in qualification. His second arrived at the 2006 final tournament against Ivory Coast. On 14 June 2008, meanwhile, the ex-Feyenoord prodigy netted his first UEFA European Championship goal in the 4-1 demolition of France at UEFA EURO 2008.

On 2 September 2011, Van Persie attained another career landmark, hitting four goals in the Netherlands' record 11-0 defeat of San Marino in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying. His feat evoked the great Marco van Basten rattling five past Malta on 19 December 1990.

Van Persie himself, Oranje captain since 7 June 2013, accepted he had achieved something special – even if he had seemed unlikely to face the Hungarians because of a toe injury. "It has been quite an exciting week," said the ex-Arsenal FC skipper. "I joined the Dutch training camp on Monday with the idea I would not be able to play. But every day it went a little better, and this morning I said I wanted to play for an hour. I did not want to miss this match as I somehow had the feeling it could be a special night.

"This stat has been in the record books for ten years; before that, there was Wilkes who had it for almost 30 years. This is not a stat that changes every week." Touchingly, Van Persie even celebrated his record-equalling 40th goal with Kluivert. "That was not planned," he added. "We had not spoken about it. But it was how I felt at that moment: eager to celebrate with him."

Last updated: 14/10/13 0.24CET

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