Ruud Gullit is the only Dutch captain to have won a major world football title when he led Holland to the European crown beating Russia in 1988 but he doesn't feel Holland has underachieved as a nation. Here as a part of ‘Super Star XI’ to take part in a charity match against Sikkim United, Gullit spoke to Hindustan Times at length. Sikkim United won 7-4. Excerpts:
Before the 2010 World Cup, you said ugly football could help Holland win it. Isn't it contradictory to Holland's philosophy?
I think we have always played beautiful total football but sometimes you can't win in style all the time. Ugly football works at times because even if you have injuries you can win a game. But I thought it wasn't a good game from both the sides in the final. We were lucky we got the best chances against Spain but we couldn't convert.
I think we have a good team and we have had quite a few good results going for us. I think European Championship is tougher than the World Cup simply because of the quality of the competition you get here. But Germany, to me, are the favourites to win it.
Has Holland underachieved as a football nation?
I don't think so. We are a small country but we are trying our best. I just think a lot of players are going abroad without finishing at the youth level. Boys are leaving their country at 16 or 17 and they never get to play in their own league. European union laws say there's nothing wrong in that once you are 18 so that's the bad thing. In old times only the best 23 or 24-year-olds could go to other nations. This is a huge problem for small countries.
Is the financial fairplay (implemented in 2010 and to be assessed over the next three years) a solution to it?
I think so. The Uefa and Fifa are trying their best but we can't cope with the money pumped in by Russia or England. There's no denying you need the money. But if things were divided a bit, it would have been better. Football is the biggest sport and is equated with power now. Look at the way the Spanish are coming back, even Germany.
Is Barcelona the best club now?
Right now, yes. But it changes from era to era I feel. In my days, Milan were the best. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid all had their eras. Even Ajax had a good time.
Do you think Pep Guaordiola has carried forward the philosophy of Johann Cruyff and Frank Rijkaard with Barcelona?
The philosophy has been same for Barcelona all through. But you need the players. Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi make the difference. The philosophy stays same but if you take them out of the team, Barcelona are different. Barca are lucky to have these players.
Why do you think you were not so successful as a coach?
It's a lot about luck. I had a few stints… winning the FA Cup for Chelsea and then a good time at Newcastle. Sometimes it's also about making decisions. I have seen some teams sacking three coaches in a year. If you have the right team coaching becomes easy.