Former Dutch international Johnny Heitinga speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at the launch of their World Cup Free-to-Play Halftime quiz, said that he wanted to attack referee Howard Webb after he sent him off in the 2010 World Cup final.
In the 19th minute of added extra time, the Dutch defender was giving a second yellow after Webb deemed he had pushed Spain forward Andreas Iniesta. Spain would go on and score the winner just 7 minutes later.
The Dutchman states that he was full of emotion the moment he got sent off and that it was an unfair decision.
I was full of emotion in that moment and walking off that pitch, it just felt like such a long walk. I felt lonely. In my eyes, it was an unfair decision, it was very smart for Iniesta for my second booking.
After the match I was still upset. I look back now and I'm glad our manager grabbed hold of me, because I wanted to attack Howard Webb. In my eyes, it was an unfair decision.
Heitinga's second yellow was the one of the nine yellow cards giving to the Netherlands in a final that became infamous for rough tackles.
Should've Been A Corner
One minute before Spain's goal, the Netherlands were awarded a free kick. Wesley Sneijder smashes it off the Spanish wall and it wrongly goes out for a goal kick. The entire Dutch team were angry at that decision then and now as Heitinga thinks the final would've went differently if they got the correct decision.
It was just so unfair that we didn't get that corner kick. At least if that would have been rightly awarded, we could have killed another 45 seconds or so; and what we can say for sure is that Spain wouldn't have scored the goal which they ended up scoring because everything would have been set up differently.
The Netherlands came into the final as underdogs as Spain were the reigning European champions at that time. The Dutch definitely needed a bit of luck to get the better off their opponents. Heitinga reveals that Wesley Sneijder who won the treble with Inter Milan that season advised his teammates to not look at the trophy.
Just before the final, he told all of us to not at the World Cup trophy when we pass it on the way out onto the pitch. He told us it brings bad luck, and so if you look back at the footage from that game now, you'll see none of us are looking towards the trophy on the way out. Of course, we went on to lose the game... so maybe it would've been better if we'd have looked at it!
The former Everton player believes that it was Spain that had luck on their side that night not them. He states that everything seemed to bounce their way, especially for their goal. Following the wrongly awarded goal kick, Rafael Van der Vaart falls at the edge of the box, trying to clear a pass to Iniesta. The then Barcelona player easily gets the ball and Spain win their first ever World Cup.
The Pain Never Goes Away
Heitinga admits that in the following three World Cup tournaments, he can't help but think how painfully close his team came to winning the country's first World Cup.
Of course, still, when a tournament starts, like this one in Qatar, I cannot help but think of how close we were in 2010, and all the emotions that came with that. It was the best thing that ever happened in my career, because playing for your country on such a big stage brings with it so much pride. Not many players can say they've done that.
But of course, you still feel the pain. It never really goes away. You're given a medal for finishing in second place, and that's not what you set out to do. And that wait, by the way, is the longest part of the night. We're waiting to receive our medals and then congratulate the winners; we'll always do that and show that level of respect because that is what the game is built on. But it hurts, it hurts.
Spain would go onto win the 2012 European championships. The Netherlands were able to gain a bit of revenge in the 2014 World Cup, trashing their rivals 5-1 in their opener. However, the country hasn't been close to competing in a final since.