Interview: Ruud Gullit loves how Chelsea play, sees success on horizon for Oranje and embraces FIFA 20

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An all-action style and pulsating performances helped forge Ruud Gullit’s legacy as one of football’s all-time greats.

By his own admission, golf’s methodical nature is therefore a significant change of pace that the former midfield dynamo – renowned for his versatility – struggles to adapt to.

Speaking at the DSA Open – part of the DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series – at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, Gullit revealed his appreciation for the game.

“I admire them [golfers],” the legendary Dutchman said. “You get punished for everything. It’s like shooting a penalty every hole.

“The worst part is the mental side. It’s something I admire but I can’t do it because I want to have fun. In golf, you have fun at the end.”

His limitations as a golfer didn’t keep a competitor like Gullit from playing a round at the charity event on Thursday and according to him, staying the course – so to speak – is exactly the way forward at his former team Chelsea.

Having parted ways with now Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri and serving a transfer ban over the summer, the Blues turned to another one of their midfield legends in Frank Lampard to navigate them through potentially stormy waters. The former Derby County head coach has gone about that task by immediately putting his faith in the club’s vast reserves of youth talent.

The likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have duly been handed starting roles. So far, their performances have vindicated Lampard’s approach.

“The transfer ban is a good thing for Chelsea because now they are obliged to use youth players,” Gullit explains. “It means that their academy is good. All these players are playing well.”

A title challenge may be well beyond the west London outfit this season but Gullit maintains that silverware should not be their primary focus for now.

“Chelsea are playing well. They still miss experience in certain areas but I love the way they play and it’s just a matter of time before they start winning.

“Lampard is doing well, I think there’s less pressure on him because of the transfer ban and I hope they give him time. Don’t look at the place in the competition.”

Frank Lampard

Chelsea suffered a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge against league leaders Liverpool on Sunday but earned plaudits for their performance, pushing the European champions all the way to the final whistle. Trophies may not be on the horizon but the progress under Lampard is evident.

The Netherlands national team on the other hand has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence under the guidance of Gullit’s former team-mate Ronald Koeman, who will have his sights set on silverware now after finishing runners-up in the Nations League.

The Oranje have historically been an outfit that’s come agonisingly close to glory on the international stage but Gullit is hopeful their fortunes improve.

“Sometimes you need a little luck as well. Twice we played against the home countries [in World Cup finals]. In Argentina it was impossible to win in those days [1978]. We played against Germany [1974] as well, it’s not easy.

“The only neutral ground was in South Africa [2010] where we should’ve won [against Spain]. If [Arjen] Robben had fallen down, like he’s always done, it would’ve been a red card and penalty.”

Gullit starred in the nation’s only international tournament win, scoring in the final of the 1988 European Championship victory. With the latest edition coming up next summer, he’s encouraged by this generation of players and suspects it could be a joyful event for the Netherlands.

“They’re doing well at the moment. They have a very good squad with experienced players. First qualify, and then maybe we’re going to be happy in the tournament. This is a good generation.”

The undisputed leader, both by character and example, of the current contingent is Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. Such is the impact he’s had on club and country over the past year that the centre-back is touted as a favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

Van Dijk

“I hope so [Van Dijk wins]. It would be good if a defender wins it. It doesn’t happen [usually],” Gullit  said of his compatriot’s chances.

The 57-year-old is a former recipient of the award himself, winning it in 1988. It’s that among his many other feats that’s earned him legendary status which has transcended into the gaming world with EA Sports’ FIFA.

Gullit was one of the Icon Players in FIFA 19 and emerged as a favourite among gamers thanks to his physical and technical attributes in the game. He enjoys being introduced to a whole new generation through the virtual world and when asked about the newly released FIFA 20 edition, spoke about his own stake in the gaming industry.

“I think it’s fantastic. They only know me because of that. I now have my own e-team – Team Gullit.”

“Last year, a player [from his team] went to Holland and won the championship immediately. So we’re doing well with Team Gullit. EA Sports loves it that the players participate with the game. A lot of them play it, I can’t. But it’s wonderful to see myself in the game.”

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