Apart from years of hard work and dedication, what has made star drag-flicker Taeke Taekema an inseparable part of the respected Netherlands team is his priority of team over self.
Playing his third World Cup in a row, Taekema is just one goal away from equalling the record of his predecessor and famous Dutch penalty corner exponent of yesteryear, Floris Jan Bovelander, who is fourth in the list of top scorers with 17 goals in the World Cup.
No personal goal
However, the 30-year-old Taekema is not very excited about such records.
“Hockey is a team sport. There is no personal goal in hockey. If I was interested in personal achievements, I would have played tennis or golf,” said Taekema, after his hat-trick helped Netherlands beat Argentina in its first match of the ongoing World Cup. Incidentally, Taekema's was the 50th hat-trick in the tournament.
Notwithstanding his achievements of four Champions Trophy gold medals, an Olympic silver, a World Cup bronze, a European championship gold and the experience of 209 international matches, Taekema is a picture of humility.
He still misses the World champion tag and is keen to win the top honour for the Dutch after a gap of 12 years. “The main thing is to become the World champion. Our aim is to win the final. In the World Cup, there will not be easy games,” he said.
In a sport that does not usually project individuals, Taekema is famous for his bullet-like penalty corner hits.
“It has come through years of practice and fine-tuning of technique. It is very hard to achieve that technique, it has taken 15-16 years. It is all about rhythm and cannot be explained,” Taekema said.
The Dutchman, known for his fierce competitiveness on the field, rates other specialists of his trade — Pakistan's Sohail Abbas and India's Sandeep Singh — highly.
“The fact that Sohail is the top goal-scorer in the world tells us about his abilities. Sandeep is also a good drag-flicker,” Taekema said with genuine appreciation.