If 60,000 people all called you “Scouse b ******” in unison, the first reaction would be fear and intimidation.
Not for Dirk Kuyt.
For Kuyt, it was one of the proudest moments of his career.
“You know I played for six years for Liverpool, it was the best time of my life,” Feyenoord ace said at the time after Steven Gerrard left Liverpool in 2016.
“And last week we played against Manchester United… something happened during the game.
“The 60,000 supporters shouted at me and they shouted, ‘You Scouse b ******!’ Normally when rivals yell at you it’s not the best thing that could happen to you, but it actually made me proud. I felt proud to be an adopted Scouser.
“Because to me the Scousers are good people. People who work hard, people who are committed, people who never give up.
It’s not often that a true workaholic shows up in the Premier League, but from 2006 to 2012 Kuyt embodied the term.
The Dutchman was arguably one of the hardest workers the elite had seen, leaving no ball unchase whenever he set foot on the pitch.
This is why he became an invaluable member of Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool squad, which again seemed to establish themselves as one of England’s elite clubs.
While flashy modern-era Premier League wingers like Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah may be more pleasing to the eye, the unorthodox Kuyt was unique in his own way.
A winger without the natural attributes of one, he has proven immensely effective for the Reds after signing from Feyenoord for £ 7million in 2006, especially in big games.
He didn’t have a lethal finish like Salah and no ability to beat three or four players like Hazard, but still managed to register a more than reasonable hit rate of one goal every four games.
His hat-trick against Man United in 2011 – possibly the worst hat-trick ever with a cumulative distance of less than six yards – will forever give him iconic status with the Anfield loyalists.
Aided by the genius of Luis Suarez, who had signed for the club five weeks before, the Dutchman scored twice in the first half and once again after the break to become the first Red to score a hat-trick against Man United since the feat of Peter Beardsley in 1990.
Kuyt was like Superman for Liverpool in big games, scoring five times against Everton, four against Arsenal, four against Manchester United and three times against Chelsea at a time when the Reds’ rivalry against Londoners was one of the most important in England.
And he also echoed his exploits on the pitch, as he dressed up as a legendary hero once in his spare time.
With just one League Cup under his belt at Anfield, Kuyt could try his hand at calling himself a Liverpool legend.
One thing he can also claim, however, is almost being killed off by Peter Crouch ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League final loss to AC Milan in 2007.
In an interview with Four Four Two in 2017, Crouchy incredibly revealed that he almost made Kuyt miss the Athens showpiece, which Milan won 2-1.
“I think it was before the Champions League final… I think we were in Portugal, we had a week before the match and we went karting,” recalls the former England striker.
“I got out, I obviously went around the track and I came back, I flew into the pit obviously where we stop.
“I thought I was just going to brake now. No brakes whatsoever … so I saw [Xabi] Alonso and I saw Kuyt and thought to myself who’s the most valuable?
“So I swerved into Kuyt and fair play with him, he literally jumped with his legs like that and I walked right through him.
“… Honest truth from God, it was quite dangerous.
Kuyt will forever be an icon with Liverpool fans, and as he has done so often in the famous red jersey, they are hoping their players can show up when it counts at Old Trafford this weekend.