Dutch striker Robin van Persie has admitted he is desperate to win the FIFA World Cup™ on Sunday to follow in the footsteps of his hero Maradona. The Netherlands are bidding to win their first FIFA World Cup title and after beating Uruguay 3-2 in Tuesday's semi-final, will now face either Germany or Spain in Sunday's finale at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Van Persie is delighted to be in the final and has even allowed himself to dream of what it will feel like to part of the first Dutch team to lift the Trophy. "I am used to watching other teams in the final, but this time I will be in it, I will be in the middle," said the Arsenal striker. "I don't know how good it will feel (to win the World Cup), but I have a really big picture in my games room back home of Maradona holding the World Cup. It is an unbelievable picture, he is on his teammates' shoulders holding the trophy with this huge smile on his face. If we win, I would like to make a picture like that."
If you put a camera in our team hotel, you would find everyone is getting on with each other and making jokes, everyone is working hard to achieve things.
The Netherlands reached the FIFA World Cup final in 1974 and 1978, losing to West Germany and Argentina respectively. Van Persie said to go a step further than the star-studded Dutch teams of the 1970s, led by Johan Cruyff, would be a dream come true, but will not be easy.
"It is difficult to cope with the pressure, because you have to fight against the memories of the teams that went before you in 1974 and 1978," he said. "They were such great players, they didn't do it, somehow, but we have the chance to do it now for the first time and then we will have done better than them. You grow up with the memories of those teams, when players from those sides talk, everyone listens. Maybe one day they will listen to me."
Van Persie said he was exhausted after the semi-final, but praised the strong team spirit in the Dutch camp, refusing to panic despite conceding a goal in stoppage time as they held on for the 3-2 win. "What I really like about this team is that we all talk," he said. "When they scored their second goal, no one shouted at each other, we just put our heads down and worked for each other.
"It shows mental strength to really go for it. The team spirit is unbelievable. If you put a camera in our team hotel, you would find everyone is getting on with each other and making jokes, everyone is working hard to achieve things."