Revenge of the Dutch

December, 31, 2010
12/31/10
11:54
AM ET

With eight goals in 13 league games so far this season, Tottenham attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has had a huge hand in Spurs' success.

Last year, winger Arjen Robben scored 20 goals for Bayern Munich across the Bundesliga and Champions League.

At the same time, playmaker Wesley Sneijder was the crucial cog in Inter Milan's victory march to the Treble, winning the Champions League, the Italian league and the Italian Cup.

What did these three players have in common besides being Dutch? They had all been discarded by Real Madrid the summer prior.

They weren't the first Dutch players to suffer a disappointing spell (not that Robben and Sneijder were at all bad for Real) only to become dominant at their next club. Dennis Bergkamp was a flop at Inter Milan before becoming a superstar at Arsenal. Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids failed at AC Milan before becoming some of the better players of the late 1990s.

What is it that makes Dutch players tear it up for a new employer after they've been humiliated by their previous club?

I have a theory -- arrogance.

Now before you cry foul, I am Dutch, too. And from my perspective, the Dutch are an inherently arrogant people. That's what allowed them to sail the world and trade everything they could get their hands on before it became fashionable, and create the world's first company in so doing. On the soccer field, that arrogance has allowed Oranje to reach (and blow) three World Cup finals while culling players from a country not even twice the size of New Jersey and with fewer citizens than New York City.

These laughably swaggering players, led by Sneijder, have traditionally used their sense of superiority as fuel, allowing them to exceed their abilities. But they need to be embarrassed from time to time to properly get going.

So beware of any Dutch player who feels he's been done wrong by his club. His revenge will be swift and furious.

Leander Schaerlaeckens

Contributing writer, ESPN.com
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a contributing writer for ESPN.com. He has previously written for The Guardian, The Washington Times and UPI.

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