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Beautiful ending to Gio's long journey
by Paul Kennedy, July 7th, 2010 12:08AM

TAGS:  netherlands, world cup


[REACTION] Giovanni van Bronckhorst is one of only four Dutch players who were born when the Netherlands last played in the World Cup final. Now, at the age of 35, the Oranje captain will play the last game of his career in Sunday's final against the winner of the Wednesday's Germany-Spain game.

"There were no tears, just joy," he said after the 3-2 win over Uruguay. "The last game in my career and it's a World Cup final, what can you say? It could not be more beautiful."

Van Bronckhorst, who scored to give the Dutch an early 1-0 lead, and defender Andre Ooijer are the only holdovers from the Dutch team that lost to Brazil in the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup.

After the 1998 finals, van Bronckhorst left Dutch club Feyenoord for Rangers, where he played with American star Claudio Reyna. (Reyna and his wife Danielle named their second child Giovanni after van Bronckhorst.) Van Bronckhorst, the son of Indonesian immigrants, later played at Arsenal and Barcelona, where he won the 2007 Champions League, before returning to Feyenoord to finish up his career.

“If you’d told me that I would be here when I moved back to Holland," van Bronckhorst said, "I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve experienced many good moments and World Cups but I’ve never reached the final.”

LOOSE GRIP. After Van Bronckhorst's goal, the Dutch lost their way against a determined Uruguay team.

"We did lose grip in midfield in the first half," said Coach Bert Van Marwijk, "but at halftime we corrected that. Things went wrong every now and then but we took the initiative a bit more and when we scored for 2-1 I had full confidence. But then Uruguay suddenly scored a goal and it became really exciting. We didn't make it 4-1 or 5-1, as it should have, but we survived and we were just so relieved in the dressing room."

SO CLOSE. Uruguay was also looking to return to the World Cup final for the third time.

“We were so close to the final,” said Diego Forlan, who has led the Celeste with four goals in South Africa. “It’s very disappointing. We had chances and we didn’t take them.”

Forlan, who came off the game with five minutes to play, admitted he was bothered by a thigh injury.

“When we started the game," the Atletico Madrid striker said, "I had a bit of pain. In the later minutes it was more painful."

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