DIRK KUYT admits he is relishing the chance to continue his excellent record in Merseyside derby matches when Liverpool travel to Everton this weekend – and revealed how Andriy Voronin’s sudden bout of nerves gave him the chance to be a Reds hero.
The Dutchman was left on the bench by boss Kenny Dalglish for Saturday’s win over Wolves at Anfield, but will be pushing for a recall as the Reds make the short trip to Goodison Park on Saturday.
Since his arrival on Merseyside in 2006, Kuyt has scored five goals against his fiercest rivals, including the equaliser when the sides last met back in January.
Kuyt said: “Liverpool v Everton is one of the biggest games of the season and when you win, especially at Goodison Park, it is one of the best feelings. It’s a game I really enjoy.”
Kuyt lists Liverpool’s win at Goodison in October 2007 – a game in which he scored twice from the penalty spot – as one of his career highlights, but revealed that he nearly didn’t get the chance to be a hero that day.
“In my second year as a Liverpool player (2007-08), it was a really tough game and breaks went our way,” he admitted.
“I remember Rafa (Benitez) read out his list of penalty takers before the game and I was second choice. Andriy Voronin was first on the list.
“When the referee gave the first penalty, Andriy came to me and asked whether I wanted it because he didn’t feel too confident. I said: ‘No problem, I’ll take it’.
“To score the winner, it was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced in my Liverpool career.”
He added: “I know exactly what it means. For the local lads in our dressing room, to the families – you can see in their eyes what the feeling is.
“For me, it is a unique derby too. I have played in games for Feyenoord against Ajax – the biggest match in Holland – and the atmosphere there is a lot more aggressive.
“The thing I really like about the Merseyside derby is you quite often have one or two strong tackles on the pitch. But at the end of the game, the players shake hands.
“My brother-in-law is a big Ajax fan who was there at Goodison in 2007 and he commented on how both sets of supporters generally got along quite well.”
Kuyt should be joined in the Reds squad this weekend by Steven Gerrard and he added: “Stevie has still been around the club, but where you really want to see Stevie is out on the pitch.
“He will be as influential as ever because you can see his determination in training. He is very important and can lift us.”