Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst has admitted he could hardly have dreamed that his last competitive match would be the FIFA World Cup™ Final. The former Arsenal, Rangers and Barcelona defender will retire from professional football after Sunday's decider in Johannesburg, after playing a massive part in getting the Dutch side there.

The 35-year-old not only smashed in what was arguably the best goal of his career to give the Netherlands the lead, but also headed a shot off the line to deny Uruguay. Van Bronckhorst, who played his final three seasons for Feyenoord, said: "There were no tears, just joy.

The last game in my career and it's a World Cup Final, what can you say? It could not be more beautiful.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

"The last game in my career and it's a World Cup Final, what can you say? It could not be more beautiful. I hope it will be the most beautiful game of my life. For everyone, it will be the game of their life."

Arjen Robben said the whole Dutch squad were delighted for their skipper. "It was super, and great for him," said the Bayern Munich winger. "He was playing the last two matches of his career, and now the very last one is the Final of the World Cup. It's fantastic."

Van Bronckhorst's 35-yard strike sailed into the top corner off the post to leave the Dutch bench open-mouthed with wonder. Oranje assistant coach Frank de Boer said: "It was incredibly beautiful, it was really a perfect shot. To strike a ball like that happens maybe once in a lifetime."

Van Bronckhorst made his Netherlands debut in 1996 and passed the 100-cap mark in his nation's opening match of South Africa 2010 against Denmark.

The final will be his 106th international. Among outfield players only De Boer, with 112, has made more appearances.