Gym lessons help Rigters reign

Thursday 21 June 2007

by Berend Scholtenfrom Heerenveen


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Maceo Rigters believes gymnastic training under coach Foppe de Haan may have helped him score his spectacular equaliser against England last night.

Vital goal
Voted the Carlsberg Man of the Match for the second Netherlands game in succession, Rigters' third goal of the tournament was a crucial one, levelling the scores at the death to set up extra time and a mammoth penalty shoot-out, which the hosts won 13-12 - with the striker converting his side's eighth spot-kick. The NAC Breda man says a special training session in the run-up to the game may have helped him connect with that all-important overhead kick.

Trampoline practice
On Monday, De Haan used an extra day off to give the players who started the weekend's Group A match against Belgium a session under gymnastics instructor Tjalling van den Berg - an initiative which bore dividends in Heerenveen. "I have only ever scored that kind of goal in training before," Rigters told "The gymnastics session was good. We jumped on the trampoline so maybe that helped me in scoring this goal. I want to thank the trainer for that.

'It was tough'
"I scored with a bicycle kick. It was a good goal, certainly, and I was happy to be able to score it right before full time otherwise we would have lost. We wanted to win the game in normal time and put the pressure on them and are very happy that, in the end, we got to the final. We were sure to get chances but had to wait until the 90 minutes were almost over until we scored. It was tough, but we managed it."

Second prize
Rigters, 23, was honoured to be given the Man of the Match award, saying: "There were a lot of good players out there so I am happy to get this a second time. I think I will give this one to my mother." However, he feels goalkeeper Boy Waterman also deserved some recognition for saving three penalties and scoring one of his own. "He did a great job in the penalty shoot-out so I am very proud of him," said Rigters, adding: "This time we will not have a party - we will just train on Thursday and then relax a little bit."

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