Futbolita

Mark van Bommel: ‘Dutch fans deserve the Euro 2012 trophy’

VANBOMMEL+BERT

His wife is the daughter of  Netherlands national coach, Bert van Marwijk.

But when Mark van Bommel dons the symbolic orange and black kit of the 'Oranje' against Denmark on Saturday, his goal will not be to impress his 'schoonvader' (Dutch for father-in-law).

Instead, the tenacious midfield general will have his sights set on avenging Holland's painful World Cup final loss to Spain two years ago, by winning the Euro 2012.

In an interview with Yahoo! S.E.A this week from Krakow, Poland, the 35-year-old spoke about what could be his final tournament, the pressure of facing Spain and Germany and the mood within the Dutch camp.

"If we meet Spain in the semi-finals or quarter finals, we will defeat them. That's the mentality of the team right now," he revealed, confidently. "I am sure Bert (van Marwijk) has a plan."

Interestingly, van Bommel idolised Barcelona as a child, and studied Spanish in a convent in Eindhoven, before turning out for the club in 2005.

Besides playing in La Liga, van Bommel has plied his trade in Europe's other big leagues such as the Bundesliga and Serie A, in a glorious career that has spanned more than 20 years.

He may be a veteran, but speaking about the Euros still makes him excited. "I don't know if this will be the last international competition for me. But this time, we want to bring the trophy home for the Dutch people. They deserve it," van Bommel said.

"The support from the people and fans from all over the country in the last few years has been amazing. We've been following it in the news - the mood in the team has been very positive."

VB-PROFILE3As the leader of the team, van Bommel is eager to play his part in bringing success to the Dutch. "I think it's important (for me) as a captain to ensure that there is harmony within the team," he said.

"After a long season, the team can get very emotional. When we play at a big tournament such as the European Championships, we cannot afford any distractions."

Van Bommel's task is made easier by the presence of several established names in the Dutch team, with the likes of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder making them one of the strongest teams in the tournament.

But while things are looking pretty for van Bommel now, there was a period of time between 2006 and 2008 when he was a notable absentee from the national team.

He made headlines for the wrong reasons for refusing to be a part of former coach Marco van Basten's team in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

This explains why van Bommel, with 77 international caps, trails Sneijder (84 caps), Dirk Kuyt (88 caps), Rafael van der Vaart (96 caps) and former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (130 caps) in The Netherlands' list of most capped players.

Citics were also quick to question his lack of "professionalism" when he was given the captain's armband last year by his own father-in-law, taking over from Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

But van Bommel has shrugged that aside as he focused on the grudge match against Germany on 14 June.

THE GERMAN RIVALRY

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The first non-German player to be made Bayern Munich captain in 2008, Van Bommel will lock horns with many of his former teammates, including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahmn, during the epic showdown.

"It will be an interesting match, as all Dutch-German meetings are," he pointed out.

"But we are more focused on the football and playing well. We will let our performances decide what happens then."

How the Dutch will fare in Poland-Ukraine will also depend greatly on the hard-tackling Van Bommel steering clear of the referees' books.

Used mainly as a holding midfielder in van Marwijk's expansive line-up, van Bommel has scored 10 goals for the national team but also has a knack for picking up yellow cards.

BOMMEL+FANS

EMOTIONAL GOODBYE

Van-Bommel-cryingAway from the international front, van Bommel made the decision to leave Italian side AC Milan last month, after two years with the club.

In a speech to fans on the club's television station, he got emotional and broke down several times.

"As I said before, Milan was a club with a great 'family' atmosphere and everyone there treats you well," he said. "I'll miss everyone at Milan, but it was time to move on."

Next season, van Bommel will play for PSV Eindhoven on a one-year contract, re-joining the club where he started his career and won two 'Dutch Player of the Year' titles.

So does he see himself playing for a club in the Asia anytime soon?

"Yes, football in Asia is growing and I have received a few offers from some clubs in the Middle East, but none have been too serious," he said.

"Maybe one day I come to Asia and experience the passion for myself. There are many possibilities."

For now, van Bommel will focus on winning this month's Euro Championships.