Sat, Dec 20, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Van Basten blasts `superstar' players

REUTERS , AMSTERDAM

Former World Player of the Year Marco van Basten says Dutch players should stop behaving like movie stars if they want to perform well at next year's European Championship in Portugal.

In an interview with weekly magazine Voetbal International, the former Ajax and AC Milan striker, whose playing career was ended by an ankle injury in 1995, criticized the attitude of the current Netherlands players.

"A lot will depend of the atmosphere in the squad. Order and discipline, that is often the problem in Holland. Players have to go to Portugal as sportsmen and not as superstars," Van Basten said.

"Some of the players behave like movie stars and that has to be handled directly. You are going for honor and country. Players should convince me that they are only thinking about soccer."

Van Basten, World Player of the Year in 1992, helped his country win the 1988 European Championship but he is not optimistic about a repeat victory next year.

The current team, who failed to make the 2002 World Cup finals, struggled to survive the Euro 2004 qualification campaign before going through with a 6-1 aggregate rout of Scotland in the playoffs.

"We have some good strikers and the right players in midfield. But defensively we don't have a strong team," said Van Basten, "The only good defender is Jaap Stam while the rest are hardly capable of fulfilling their attacking and defensive tasks."

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