No hairy situation for Sneijder

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:19 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG -- For the Dutch, bald is beautiful.

And if the folically-challenged Wesley Sneijder some how can carry the Dutch to their first World Cup title in history when they face off against Spain in the title match of South Africa 2010 at Johannesburg's beautiful Soccer City Sunday, it could start a frenzied trend back home in The Netherlands.

Attention barbers and hair stylists from Amsterdam to Rotterdam: Prepare your shears. There could be a stampede of orange-clad fans heading your way looking to shave their noggins in order to look like Wes.

Even the local newspapers here in South Africa are joining in Sneijder-palooza. Splattered on the cover of one of the sports sections earlier this week was the headline "THE PIN-BALD WIZARD," with the accompanying story referring to the Dutch midfielder as "Holland's balding ball wizard."

To this point at World Cup 2010, he has been all that. And more.

With fellow star Arjen Robben coming off injury and only seeing spot duty in the first three games, Sneijder pretty much carried the Dutch on his back. His goal in a 1-0 victory over Japan was the first of three game winners he would record in The Netherlands 6-0 run to the final, the others coming in a 2-1 win over Croatia in the Group of 16 and a memorable two-goal performance in a 2-1 quarterfinal triumph over mighty Brazil in the quarters.

His coup de grace came in the semifinal Tuesday against Uruguay, snapping a 1-1 tie that put the Dutch ahead for good in a 3-2 decision that gave The Netherlands its first World Cup final appearance in 32 years.

Of course, Dutch fans have seen this star power before.

Starting with the emergence of all-world performer Johan Cruyff, the Dutch had an amazing procession of elite performers on their roster, names such as Edgar Davids. Patrick Kluivert. Frank Rijkaard. Ruud Gullit. Ronald Koeman. Marco Van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp.

An impressive list if you look at them on paper. Unfortunately, not one of them has ever put their hands on the World Cup trophy.

Now, here comes Sneijder with the opportunity to do just that when he leads The Netherlands against the defending Euro 2008 champs from Spain.

Should the Dutch manage to bring their first World Cup title back to their orange-clad country, Sneijder and Robben will elevate themselves above all those famous names of yesteryear.

Because capturing the title would escalate this team above the 1974 and 1978 Dutch sides that lost in the final. And Sneijder knows it.

"This is wonderful for us, the Netherlands being in the World Cup final after such a long time," Sneijder, 26, said. "It won't be easy on Sunday but we are going to win again. There is no turning back for us."

"Going to win again?" That's a pretty bold prediction. Has Sneijder been reading up on Joe Namath's promise of a New York Jets win over the Baltimore Colts before Super Bowl III? Or Mark Messier's vow that his New York Rangers would beat the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the 1994 semifinal, a statement that, like Namath's, would come true?

Probably not.

Then again, he has his own reason to carry himself with a quiet swagger. As the key cog in the Inter Milan midfield, Sneijder has already won three titles this year: the Italian league, the Italian Cup and the Champions League crown.

That, in itself, is reason to boast.

At the same time, Sneijder knows that he must keep his eye on the grandest prize.

"The World Cup is the biggest of them all," he said.

There are still some personal accolades within his reach as well. With five goals, he is tied with Spain's David Villa in the race for the Golden Boot, which goes to the leading scorer of the World Cup.

But right now, none of that matters to Sneijder.

Only a World Cup title does.


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