ROTTERDAM - The Associated Press
Former Netherlands forward Dirk Kuyt is returning to Feyenoord next season, aiming to end his professional playing days at the club that served as his launching pad for his future career at Liverpool and Fenerbahçe, the Rotterdam club announced on April 10.
Kuyt has signed a one-year contract with Feyenoord, currently third in the top-flight Eredivisie, but said his stay will likely be longer.
His decision comes after Fenerbahçe’s team bus came under fire late April 4 in Trabzon’s Araklı district as the team was heading to catch an Istanbul flight after a league game.
On April 6, the Turkish Football Federation
(TFF) decided to suspend all first-tier Spor Toto Super League games, along with the Ziraat Turkey Cup match-ups, for the week following the attack.
Kuyt ruled out claims on his social media accounts that his decision was linked to the attack, saying he had made the decision before the incident, after meetings with club executives.
“I have decided to return and play for Feyenoord after nine years abroad,” he said.
He said he was proud to play with Fenerbahçe, winning local titles for the Istanbul side, “but every beautiful story has an ending.”
Kuyt became a favorite among Feyenoord’s fans during his first stint with the club from 2003-2006, after transferring from Utrecht. He was the Eredivisie’s top scorer in the 2004-2005 season and was named Dutch footballer of the year in 2006.
He retired from international football in October 2014, after the Netherlands team finished third at last year’s World Cup - a tournament where he underscored his versatility by playing as wing and left back. He also finished second with the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, losing to Spain in the final. In total, he has made 104 appearances for the Netherlands and scored 24 goals.
The 34-year-old has said now is a good time to return to Rotterdam as “I’m fit and have a great drive to make a success of my time at De Kuip,” Feyenoord’s stadium.
Feyenoord director Martin van Geel said that although Kuyt only signed a one-year deal, both he and the club intend his stay in Rotterdam to be longer.
“Dirk can keep going for years,” van Geel said. “As far as he’s concerned, he can become the Ryan Giggs of Feyenoord and we will continue many more years. This will be music to the ears of Feyenoord fans.”
Kuyt has often spoken of his desire to return to his Rotterdam-based club. He has also bought a house close to his hometown of Noordwijk.
“I always dreamt about returning to Feyenoord. And it’s possible now. I know what I want. I’ve spent good times at Fenerbahçe,” the veteran forward said while speaking on a Dutch television channel on April 7.