Gokhan Saki prepared Dutch star for World Cup

Thursday, June 12, 2014

By some measures the World Cup is a bigger sporting event than the Summer Olympics. By the measure of most people in the USA, it is a bigger sporting event than, say, Ferret Legging (current world record: over five hours).

At the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa, the star of the Brazil-defeating Dutch team and joint top scorer with five goals, was Wesley Sneijder.

After a series of injuries left him out of shape last year, Sneijder was stripped of his Dutch team captaincy by coach Louis van Gaal.

“First he has to get fit, then into form, and then I'll compare him with what I have available,” said van Gaal at the time.

Sneijder turned to Dutch-Turkish world kickboxing champion Gokhan Saki to get him right.

‘Thanks to him, I got back to my optimal weight, like when I was 22,’ said Sneijder, 30. ‘In terms of footwork and agility, I am back to my old level.”

And now he is back in good graces with his coach.

“Wesley is very fit. If he stays in form, he can mean a lot to us,” said the coach. “I'm unbelievably happy with that.”

And Sneljder, although still not the captain, expects to make a huge difference.

“I'm not captain any more, but I'm still a leader,” he said.