Rafael van der Vaart got his UEFA 100-cap award ahead of the Netherlands' FIFA World Cup qualifier with Andorra, the side against whom he made his debut as an 18-year-old.
Rafael van der Vaart collected his UEFA 100-cap award ahead of the Netherlands' FIFA World Cup qualifier against Andorra in Rotterdam.
The Hamburger SV midfielder marked his 101st appearance, Friday's 3-0 win against Group D rivals Andorra, with a goal and, having equalled Phillip Cocu's total number of caps, now trails only three players in the standings: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (106), Frank de Boer (112) and Edwin van der Sar (130).
"This is a huge honour for me because those are big names," said the former AFC Ajax, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur FC man. "Besides the cap and medal, I also received a golden plate with all 100 matches engraved in it. I listened to the speech with a special feeling. Time goes so quickly – 100 caps, I hope there are many more to come."
Van der Vaart first represented his country as an 18-year-old on 6 October 2001, coincidentally against Andorra and under current Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal. His 100th appearance came in the 4-2 friendly loss against Belgium on 15 August.
Van der Vaart received the award from Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) general secretary Bert van Oostveen. "You made your debut 11 years ago, also against Andorra," said Van Oostveen. "Now, 99 international matches later and still you are not even 30. You already have an impressive carreer behind you; fantastic."