‘I used to find my best form against Spurs!'” – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink remembers four games that changed his life
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took his first steps as a professional footballer in his native Netherlands, before moving to Portugal and capturing the attention of Premier League clubs with his performances for Boavista.
After arriving at Leeds United, the striker made a name for himself as a powerful goalscorer with an eye for the spectacular. A transfer to Chelsea in 2000 proved successful as Hasselbaink earned legendary status at Stamford Bridge. All told, the Dutchman has scored 127 goals in 288 Premier League appearances, making him one of the greatest strikers in top-flight English history.
Hasselbaink spoke to FourFourTwo in conjunction with Grosvenor Casinos. (opens in new tab)
Vitoria Setubal 2- 2 Boavista
May 4, 1997 – Primeira Divisao
“My first game is for Boavista against Vitoria Setubal – you didn’t expect me to pick this one, did you? (laughs) The Leeds manager George Graham was in the stadium, he saw me for the first time, he was scouting me – I scored, from then on he liked me, and a deal to come to Leeds started to happen with my agent. I scored 20 league goals for Boavista that season, I couldn’t stop scoring – we had a really good year, with me and Nuno Gomes up front, we played a lot of games together. But in the Netherlands we have the BBC and Match of the day, so I always wanted to play in England, and this match gave me that opportunity. When the opportunity came, I didn’t have to think about it – I just took it.”
Leeds 1-1 Arsenal
August 9, 1997 – Premier League
“This was my debut for Leeds and I scored. It was very special to play against Arsenal – Ian Wright was one of the strikers you watch in the Premier League, to see how he did things, how he scored his goals scored. To play against Steve Bould in your first game, against that famous back four, and score against David Seaman, it just felt so right. I went one on one with him, a defender approached and I had to decide quickly to I think Seaman thought I was aiming for the nearest corner but I went for the far corner, he slipped a bit with his left foot and the ball went in. A very special moment – your debut on a packed Elland Road , with all the fans going wild, I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
Netherlands 0-0 Belgium
June 13, 1998 – World Cup
“This was my World Cup debut. I didn’t know I was going to be called up for that tournament, I was one of the last on the list – number 21 was for me and in those days you could only have 22 players. I went a mini pre-season with the Dutch national team and it went so well that manager Guus Hiddink started me in the first game, I was a bit unlucky, it was 0-0 and I think I hit the post, but I came from Boavista, played with Leeds for a year and was immediately called up to the national team Two years before when the European Championship was in England I went with friends to watch the Dutch national team when England beat them 4-1 I was going to do the same in France, but I was called myself and my family came to watch.”
March 13, 2002 – Premier League
“My fourth game must be a Chelsea game when I scored a hat-trick against Spurs – left foot, right foot and a header. When I was told after the game that I had scored a perfect hat-trick I didn’t know what that was, I just thought a hat-trick was a hat-trick. But when they explained it, that also made it very special. I think all Spurs fans remember. I used to play really well against them for Chelsea, and also for Leeds. I thought my best form against them and scored. There wasn’t many games I’ve lost against them in my career, and I must have played them maybe 20 times in 10 years, including with Middlesbrough and Charlton. My lawyer is a big Spurs- fan and he doesn’t like it when I talk to them about my criminal record!” (laughs)
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