The Netherlands dominated the 2005 WorldHockey Men’s Player of the Year awards in Chennai this afternoon, with Teun de Nooijer and Robert van der Horst completing a Dutch double.
De Nooijer’s election as the WorldHockey Men’s Player of the Year makes him just second man behind countryman Stephan Veen to win the prestigious award twice. The midfield maestro also collected the prize in 2003.
The 29-year-old was a clear winner, polling 40 percent of the votes cast by players and coaches at the Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy to finish well ahead of the chasing pack.
Since making his international debut in 1994 against New Zealand, de Nooijer has been hailed as one of the elite players in world hockey. Earlier this year he became just the fourth Dutchman to reach the rare 300-game-mark.
A stellar career has been littered by a galaxy of gold medals at major tournaments, with two Olympic victories (1996, 2000) complemented by success at the 1998 World Cup and five winners’ medals from the Champions Trophy.
Often the barometer of his team’s success, de Nooijer’s sublime skills and influence over matches has led to a succession of individual accolades.
Van der Horst, 21, was named the WorldHockey Men’s Young Player of the Year with 35 per cent of the vote. He has quickly established himself in the strong Netherlands squad this year, with composure under pressure complemented by excellent distribution of the ball and an ability to read the play.
He was also captain of the Netherlands Under 21 team that finished fifth at the Rabo Hockey Junior World Cup in Rotterdam in July this year.
With today’s awards double, the Netherlands have claimed three of the four WorldHockey Player of the Year awards for 2005.
Maartje Goderie claimed the young women’s prize earlier this month, with only Argentina’s Luciana Aymar (WorldHockey Women’s Player of the Year) stopping the Netherlands completing the grand slam in 2005.
Both de Nooijer and van der Horst will be in action in tomorrow’s Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy final in Chennai as the Netherlands attempt to topple their Athens Olympic conquerors Australia.
The Netherlands will attempt to win their eighth Champions Trophy title tomorrow night but the Kookaburras are unbeaten in the tournament and go into the match as slight favourites after edging the Dutch by a single goal in their preliminary round match.
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