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Ryan Babel names the four players whose egos prevented Holland winning 2010 World Cup

Robin van Persie

Ryan Babel believes Holland could have won the 2010 World Cup if Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart cared more about the team.

The Dutch beat Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Slovakia, Brazil and Uruguay en route to the final in South Africa, only to lose to Spain 1-0 after extra time.

And Babel, who was part of the squad but did not make a single appearance at the tournament, thinks Bert van Marwijk's men could have triumphed with a more collective-minded approach.

"You had the battle between the 'Big Four' at the time," the former Liverpool (opens in new tab) winger, who currently plies his trade with Galatasaray, told Voetbal International (opens in new tab), referring to Sneijder, Van Persie, Robben and Van der Vaart.

"In my experience, they all wanted to be No.1. As strange as it sounds, I think this [Netherlands] side is more of a team. I don't feel we have egos right now. We all give each other the goal, the action or the pass. It's more a whole - there isn't anyone who stands head and shoulders above the team.

"I remember that moment in the final, where Arjen Robben went [through on goal against] Iker Casillas. Casillas almost knocked him down; knowing Arjen he would normally just go down. If he had done that, we would have played against 10 men for the rest of the game and you might win.

"But he really wanted to score. It's a detail, and I'm thinking out loud for a moment, but maybe Arjen wasn't thinking about the team interest at the time and just wanted to score. Perhaps that kind of thing was the 5% [we lacked] to become world champions."

After failing to feature for the Netherlands between 2011 and 2017, Babel is now a regular in the national team as Ronald Koeman's side attempt to qualify for Euro 2020.


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Greg Lea
Greg Lea

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).