Robin van Persie knows his Holland team-mates have the chance to become immortal on Sunday.
Victory over favourites Spain in the FIFA World Cup™ final at Soccer City would finally erase the bitter taste of defeat from 1974 and 1978. Yet the Total Football created by coach Rinus Michels and put into practice by Johan Cruyff has become a millstone round Dutch necks. Even now, as they approach their date with destiny, there are some who argue this is not a true Holland team because Bert van Marwijk's well-drilled outfit lack the same stardust.
But Van Persie knows all that will be forgotten on the streets of Amsterdam and Rotterdam on Sunday night if Holland can win. "It is a bit difficult because you have to fight against the generation of 1974 and 1978," said the Arsenal forward.
"They were unbelievable. They are legends, Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and so on. You grew up with their names in your face. When those people say anything in the press or on a TV programme everybody listens because of what they have achieved. But somehow, we have a chance to do it. If we win it for the first time it will be unbelievable because basically it means that we have done better than them."
The Netherlands only major triumph remains the one achieved at UEFA Euro 88 by a team containing Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. The current Dutch line-up lacks that immense individual talent but one reason put forward for their success is the close-knit bond Van Marwijk has been able to create.
On so many occasions in the past the Dutch have been riven with infighting. There was supposedly one argument this time around involving Van Persie and star man Wesley Sneijder but coach Van Marwijk quickly put a lid on the trouble before it could escalate into anything more serious. And, having come so far, it would be counter-productive to rock the boat now.
"I was not here when people spoke about the former sides," said Van Persie. "But I know do know this team has an unbelievable spirit. If you put a camera inside our hotel you would see us playing table tennis or making jokes. Everybody is playing cards and talking to each other which is important in order to achieve things. When you have a group of players where half of the team is not talking to each other, when one man does not like another, or when someone is not happy when someone else scores, you are not going anywhere."