VAN HOOIJDONK AND ZOETEBIER PROUD AS PUNCH

The Open Day offered former Feyenoord favourites Pierre van Hooijdonk and Edwin Zoetebier an opportunity to say an official farewell to the club’s fans. Van Hooijdonk admitted that his five-minute appearance ‘flashed by’. The striker also acknowledged that the Feyenoord fans – the Legion – had shown their appreciation of him as a person throughout the day. ‘I’m proud to have been able to play for this club,’ stressed the goal-machine.

Van Hooijdonk’s return to the stadium where he celebrated his greatest personal success – bagging the Uefa Cup in 2002 – left the player standing all alone in the tunnel waiting to be called onto the pitch. Asked whether he was nervous, the player replied: ‘No, not nervous. But I do have a strange feeling. I’ve stood here so often, hundreds of times perhaps. But now I’ll be going onto the pitch alone and all eyes will be on me. That’s odd.’

By the time Van Hooijdonk arrived back in the tunnel, he had a big smile on his face and an armful of flowers. ‘The time on the pitch flashed by like that,’ he confessed. ‘The Legion has shown their appreciation of me in a very special way. I’m proud that I was able to play here. I’m also proud of the fact that I was part of the team that won the Uefa Cup, a trophy no-one thought a Dutch club could ever win again. My time at Feyenoord was fantastic.’

Edwin Zoetebier picked out one person in particular during his farewell: a girl called Kelly. ‘The darts player Vincent van der Voort and I are ambassadors for the gastroschisis foundation. It is not that well known in Holland. It’s like spina bifita, but at the front of the body. Kelly was born with gastroschisis. I got to know her three years ago and I am really in awe of her. She recently contracted a virus and had to go to hospital. But she has stayed strong and focussed. I think that’s very brave. She is a big Feyenoord supporter, so that’s why I thanked her.’

Zoetebier also thanked the whole Legion. ‘I’m proud I was able to play for this crowd.’

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