Sneijder: Focused on lifting the trophy

2010 has been an eventful and highly productive year for FC Internazionale Milano’s Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, producing many unforgettable moments in both his football career and private life. The solitary low point was losing the final of the FIFA World Cup™ with the Netherlands, although the 26-year-old’s disappointment was tempered by a succession of silverware with I Nerazzurri, peppered with numerous man-of-the-match displays.

Having already claimed the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup titles, plus the much-coveted UEFA Champions League, can the 26-year-old Dutchman cap a remarkable year by clinching the FIFA Club World Cup? spoke exclusively to the man himself, who recently committed his future to Inter by signing a new five-year contract. Wesley, what’s been the best moment for you in this magical year?
Wesley Sneijder: Definitely winning the final of the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich. What else could it be?

Your new wife Yolanthe might not be very pleased with that...
(Smiles) Hey, let’s set the record straight right away! My private life is one thing – obviously my wedding in July was a fantastic occasion – and my career as a professional footballer is another thing. In that respect, that night in Madrid goes straight to the top of the list, after a magnificent run in which we got the better of some tremendous teams like Chelsea and Barcelona.

In the summer of 2009 before you moved to Inter Milan, did you harbour dreams of lifting that trophy at the Santiago Bernabeu wearing a Real Madrid shirt?
The whole Madrid camp was talking for ages about that final being played on home turf, and it was in the minds of all of us players, I can’t deny it. On arriving in Milan I wasn’t seriously thinking of winning such a major title in my first season, but when I lifted the trophy at the end of the deciding match, deep down I have to admit I felt a really peculiar sensation – a sort of [coming] home feeling! I thank president [Massimo] Moratti, coach [Jose] Mourinho and everyone at Inter for having given me the chance to express my full potential and to accomplish something like that, on top of all the other trophies.

The lads and I are focused on making a go of it and lifting the trophy. The overriding sensation is just a desire to win.
Wesley Sneijder

Thinking back over the other unforgettable nights of 2010, it’s impossible not to mention the Final of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
That match, which crowned another great run of victories over teams like Brazil and Uruguay, was an incredible and fantastic experience, despite the result which unfortunately went against us. We played in a wonderful stadium and had a shot at winning the most precious trophy of all, with the eyes of the whole world on us and an entire nation rooting for us. We lost the game because we were up against a really strong team who were probably better than us. Spain have an incredibly talented squad, but we matched them right to the end and conceded only in the final minutes of extra time. I’ve got no regrets, just an overwhelming desire to give it another go in 2014. Luckily I’m quite young, so I’ve still got the chance to do so.

You didn’t get to be a world champion with the Dutch national team, but you might be able to with Inter. What are your feelings in the run-up to the FIFA Club World Cup 2010?
The two competitions can’t be compared because between June and July I was playing in a full-on tournament, even though so many matches were squeezed into a few days, whereas now we’re getting ready to contest the cup over just two matches, hoping to perform well and get past the first obstacle. Playing in the FIFA Club World Cup is our reward for that extraordinary victory in Europe and it will be great to test ourselves against the best clubs in each continent. It’s not important who we meet: the lads and I are focused on making a go of it and lifting the trophy. The overriding sensation is just a desire to win.

How are you feeling from a physical point of view?
I’m a little tired due to all these commitments one on top of the other and the lack of rest that I’ve had in the past few months, particularly between July and August. That said, this is the price you pay for experiencing the emotions of this season which, if all goes well, could finish up with my winning five trophies for Inter and earning a World Cup runners-up spot with the Netherlands. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

What do you know about the United Arab Emirates, where the FIFA Club World Cup will be played?
We went there with Inter last season during the Serie A winter break. It’s great to be going back after 12 months to play such important matches, which prove that the hard work we put in has paid off. I’m sure the stadiums will be full and the fans will be well up for it. Unfortunately I haven’t seen much from a tourist or cultural point of view, but the pace of life of a footballer doesn’t leave time for too many excursions. I’ll make amends in the future, I promise!