World Champion Gökhan Saki (left) with Dutch star Wesley Sneijder in İstanbul

Wesley Sneijder is considered to be one of the most important players of Netherlands Football National team and he owes his form to kickboxing. Despite being a member of the finalist team of World Cup 2010, there were doubts about him because he was kicked out of national team squad just less than one year ago but still he made it to World Cup 2014 and he has shown a good performance so far.

World Champion Gökhan Saki with Wesley Sneijder in İstanbul during Glory 15 Kickboxing event.
World Champion Gökhan Saki with Wesley Sneijder in İstanbul during Glory 15 Kickboxing event.

Sneijder, who is a player of Galatasaray, one of the biggest clubs in Turkey, was in a very bad situation both physically and mentally before he started to practice kickboxing with famous Turkish kickboxer Gökhan Saki. After training hard with Champion Glory World Series and managed to get in form and this granted his position in Dutch team.Sneijder commented about contribute of Turkish kickboxer to him and stated: “Thanks to him, I got back to my optimal weight, like when I was 22 years old. In terms of footwork and agility, I am back to my old level”.

Van Gaal was used to be critical about Sneijder before the World Cup but  still he also commends his coach for getting him back to the squad although relations between to have never been easy.

When Van Gaal started as new coach of the national team, he took the captains armband from Sneijder and gave it to Van Persie and Robben. Van Gaal criticized the player after his decision to continue his career in Turkey. Van Gaal’s reaction to this move was as this: “I cannot understand why a player under 30 and of his calibre would make such a choice.”

Sneijder’s performance for Galatasaray was not even stable in 2013, so Van Gaal decided to kick him out of the national team squad for friendly matches.

Van Gaal said “Wesley is more present at the gala parties than in the opposition half.” considering Sneijder’s physical condition at the time.

At that time Dutch media was doubting Sneijder would manage to return to squad for the World Cup or not. Meanwhile, Sneijder had already started practicing kickboxing with Saki and he said “I had got back to work. With hindsight I can see that Louis van Gaal was right. I was not working enough. My level had gone down.”.

In early May, Van Gaal called him back to  the national team and stated: “Sneijder must prove that he can again be the superb player he was in 2010”.

This history shows how kickboxing can help people to become very healthy both physically and mentally  and get in form.

By Reşat Onur Er

Reşat Onur Er, is a law graduate from Turkey with LL.M degree. He is involved in kickboxing since 2012. He is Turkish Kickboxing Federation Chairman of Students Committee and Member of Committee on Foreign Relations, WAKO IF  Member of Education/Students Committee WAKO European Kickboxing Federation Member of Students/Educational Committee and is founder of WorldKickboxing.Net. He is a licensed kickboxing athlete who has 7th Dan Dark Brown Belt. He has been working actively for development of kickboxing in Turkey and Africa. He works at Cape Town Iron and Steel Works as a Legal Assistant.

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