Interview with Patrick Kluivert: "Teams are more important than Messi and Ronaldo"
While everybody talks about the Messi and Ronaldo rivalry as if they were teams battling, Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert speaks with Sportskeeda and says that the battle between the players is good for the game as long as they are helping their clubs keep their importance.
The 38-year old Dutchman coaches the Curacao national team after having been an assistant manager for the Netherlands under Louis van Gaal and he doesn’t hide how grateful he feels towards the manager of Manchester United, who has helped him a lot throughout his career.
As for the semi-finals of the Champions League, Kluivert sees Barcelona and Real Madrid as favorites to qualify to the final in Berlin.
What is your opinion of the results we had in the first semi-finals of Champions League (Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich 3-0, Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid )?
It is a very positive result for Barcelona. Absolutely. Next week is the return. They played well. If you see how the front were dominating Europe and Spain is incredible.
Messi is from a different planet. He is really, really good. He scores important goals. But on the other hand Bayern Munich didn't have two big strengths. Ribery and Robben. Those two are really important for Bayern Munich and they weren’t playing. Next week they can't play as well. It will be very difficult for Bayern to qualify.
It's a surprising result. Juventus was dominating in the first 15 minutes. After the goal of Morata, Real Madrid played better, scored an important goal and on the 1-1 James Rodriguez had a very good chance to put 2-1 but hit the bar on the post.
If he had scored the goal it would be a total different result but in the second half Juventus dominated the game again and they had Tevez in their team. He is a very good player. He is good to get penalties and that happened. He is very smart in that sort of situation. 2-1 is a good result for Juventus but I think they will face more difficulties at the Bernabeu.
How did you arrive at the decision to coach the Curacao national side? What are your immediate goals with the team?
My mother is from Curacao and I have a lot of family members from Curacao. After the World Cup, it was a good challenge for me to coach the Curacao national team. The team has a lot of Dutch players who I know and if they can do well in the qualifying games against a lot of pressure it is a very good thing.
In the next round we play against Cuba, 10th June and 14th June away. We try to prepare ourselves very well for those matches.
You started your career in Ajax. What do you think Ajax needs today in order to become a strong force in Europe again?
It is very difficult. At Ajax they have to have more experienced players in Europe and at high level. Nowadays they only have young and talented players. With them you can't compete in Europe anymore because there are many clubs with a lot of experience and money to buy big players.
In Europe, in the coming years, Ajax will have many difficulties to do well. I hope that they’ll do well, but the money invested in other teams means they have bigger opportunities to get better players.
You had perhaps the best days of your career in Barcelona. What is your fondest memory from your time at the Catalan club?
Everything was amazing. The organization, the team, the players that I played with. High quality. I played six years at Barcelona and it was the best time of my football career.
A compatriot of yours, Frank Rijkaard, was the coach of Barcelona during the rise of the team in the early 00’s. Do you see yourself coaching Barcelona someday too?
I hope so. If it is God’s will, I will become the coach of Barcelona one day. I really hope that I can do it one day.
The biggest battle in the football world today is Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Do you think the fans' obsession with these two superstars is unhealthy for the game?
It is healthy for the game. They are playing for the two of the biggest teams in Spain and in Europe. They need each other to have the competition rising. They are two great players. Every coach would like to have them in their team. It’s very important to have the discussion Messi and Ronaldo. Two different players but with fantastic qualities. What can I say? They are great players.
Would you say the Messi-Ronaldo rivalry is undermining team battles?
No, they are not more important, because always the team results are more important. They are players that can decide the games for their teams. That’s very important. So, it’s very important as long as they keep each other focused in the game.
You have played in both England and in France. This year in Champions League the English teams were out early, while the French teams made big surprises. What is the reason for that?
I don’t know. It is really strange because the strong English teams were out of the competition while the French teams like Paris Saint Germain had the same fate as well. Normally in this competition you would like to have an English team in the finals. It makes Champions League a little bit extra special. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the (French) teams are not used to play in Europe and next year it will be changing. Next year there will be an English team in quarterfinals for sure.
The Netherlands have produced many great coaches. Which Dutch coach has influenced and inspired you the most in your work?
Louis van Gaal inspired me the most absolutely because he was the one who gave me an opportunity to play from a youth player to the first team of Ajax. He also was the coach who gave me the opportunity to go from AC Milan to Barcelona.
Sure I had a lot of great coaches: Dick Advocaat, Frank Rijkaard, Guus Hiddink, Bobby Robson. Very good coaches, but the one who inspired me the most is Louis van Gaal. He gave me also the opportunity to become his assistant in the Dutch national team so this is something very important too.
What is your opinion about the youth systems in Netherlands? How long do you think it will be before we see the next Robin van Persie or the next Arjen Robben?
It is difficult to compare them and to see another person like them. We have other quality players in the team, like Memphis Depay. We‘ve got a few players who have a bright future, but it will be difficult to substitute Robben and Van Persie. They have the best of qualities.
Who do you think is the greatest Dutch footballer of all time?
Marko Van Basten because what he did for the Dutch football is very important. Played at high level, with big teams and showed his qualities; Frank Rijkaard too. Those players are the most important.
What would you say are the best and the worst moments of your career?
Of course the worst memories are the injuries that I had because I couldn’t play the way I‘d love to play.
The best things were the World Cup memories, scoring the goal in 1995 with Ajax in the final. I have a lot of big memories the time that I was in Barcelona of course. And all the goals for the Dutch national team were also very important.
If you had a time machine, would you change anything from your past life?
I don’t have a lot to change, maybe big injuries because I had injuries in crucial times. I can’t dispute the game I played. I would not like to change anything else.
Indian football is on the rise, and the inaugural edition of the ISL last year was a huge success. Do you see yourself playing in the ISL sometime in the future?
I never say no, but I don’t know if I can do it as a player. Maybe as a coach, you never know. If it’s rising I am always open to speak about something. As a player, it could be if it was for one year more.