Hockey World Cup Memories: Dutch legend Stephan Veen remembers lifting the Cup in his maiden attempt

Former Netherlands captain Stephan Veen is a two-time Olympic gold medallist (1996, 2000) and a two-time World Cup winner (1990, 1998). In this interaction with Shantanu Srivastava, he recounts his first World Cup win — Lahore, 1990.

I was 19 when I played my first World Cup in Lahore in 1990. That was my first tournament ever, my international debut. There was no interchange, so I thought I wouldn't get a minute of game time, but I played five games. Unfortunately, I missed the final, but I played the semis and four other games. I missed only two games.

My first World Cup experience was fantastic. When you win a World Cup at that age, it gives you a lot of confidence. You know you have shown your worth to the world, and that gives you confidence. You know the world is watching, and you kind of enjoy the attention.

 Hockey World Cup Memories: Dutch legend Stephan Veen remembers lifting the Cup in his maiden attempt

Stephan Veen is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a two-time World Cup winner. AFP/ File

My experience in Pakistan was superb. I like the food in India and Pakistan, and I really had a good time there. The hospitality in Lahore was outstanding, and people were really passionate about hockey.

We played in front of 50,000-60,000 people, who used to cram the stadium and climb on the roofs...it was crazy. When our bus used to hit the streets, people used to follow us on their scooters. It was real fun, something that I had experienced for the first time.

The admiration and the energy people from India and Pakistan have for the game is so different than in The Netherlands, and it was always fun playing here.

Our final was against the hosts, and it was incredible. I can still remember the scenes when Floris van Bovelander took those penalties. Shahbaz Ahmed scored the first goal for Pakistan, and the stadium exploded. I couldn't hear the man next to me, it was that loud.

Then we got the corner. Bovelander scored, and it was completely quiet in the stadium. Complete quiet. Manzoor was the defender on the line, and he simply stepped out of the way after taking a step ahead. That hit was so hard and so quick. It went out of the stick, and boom.

Bovelander proved himself as a player who can decide games, and he was truly phenomenal. We celebrated together, and it was great fun. I remember when we returned, it was quite cold back home, and a lot of people had come to the airport to welcome us. I think we had a great team in the 1990s, because we had a lot of skillful players like myself, Teun de Nooijer, who used to play on the left and I played on the right. We also had a very good defence, and the balance between attack and defence was very good. Also, we had players like Jacques Brinkman, Ronald Jansen, Floris Jan Bovelander, among others, who just had the mental ability to change games. They had the perseverance to go on after a loss or setback. They were able to change the fortunes during the game or during the tournament.

My first World Cup took a long time coming; we won our last World Cup when I was three years old, so yes, it was great to be part of World Cup winning team in my first dig.

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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2018 23:45:55 IST

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