Emotional testimonial for Rafael van der Vaart

One of HSV’s best players in recent years departed the stage on Sunday during an entertaining and emotional testimonial game at the Volksparkstadion.

“What should I say? Thank you!” – With these words Rafael van der Vaart left the field on Sunday (13th October) for one last time, thanking the public for their support over the past decade and a half. “Hamburg has always been my second home,” explained the ‘small angel’, as he is affectionately known by the fans and media in Germany’s second city. That Hamburg and HSV fans in particular had accepted the Dutchman as one of their own was only reconfirmed on a sunny autumn afternoon, as over 30,000 fans made their way to the Volksparkstadion to say goodbye one last time to one of their favourites. As well as over 40 ex-HSV stars like René Adler, Daniel van Buyten and Ruud van Nistelrooy there were international superstars and friends of Rafa including Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Edwin van der Saar. If the fans had forgotten quite how good they were in the intervening decade, Tim Atouba, Piotr Trochowski and Patrick Kluivert were on hand to show that they still had what it takes to play at the highest level.

Rafael van der Vaart came one appearance short of bringing up his double century for the Rothosen, scoring 66 times and assisting a further 55. During his testimonial, the 36-year-old, was able to hoist his arms above his head for one final time, using the famous left wand of his to sit down two defenders before hammering into the back of the net in front of the Nordtribüne, just like old times. The game moved from one emotional moment to the next, as Rafa’s son Damian was substituted into the game, as a video of the whole van der Vaart family was shown on the big screen. The whole Volksparkstadion rose to salute one of Hamburg’s most celebrated sons. There’s not much more to say than: Thank you! Thank you Rafa for the goals and assists, the immeasurable number of beautiful and emotional moments, the passion that you showed with the blue, white and black diamond on your chest! Tschüs Rafa! It’s not a goodbye as such, it’s more of a see you again soon! 

The HSV All Star team consisted of: Goalkeepers: Rene Adler, Stefan Wächter, Sven Neuhaus; outfield players: Tim Atouba, Dennis Aogo, Dennis Diekmeier, Khalid Boulahrouz, Daniel van Buyten, Marcell Jansen, David Jarolim, Stefan Beinlich, Nigel de Jong, Bastian Reinhardt, Collin Benjamin, Romeo Castelen, Guy Demel, Benny Lauth, Ailton, Trochowski, Heiko Westermann, Änis Ben-Hatira und Chris Tall

Managers: Thomas Doll und Bruno Labbadia

Members of Rafa‘s All Stars included: Goalkeepers: Edwin van der Saar, Heurelho Gomes; outfield players: Demy de Zeeuw, Marc Overmars, Royston Drenthe, Andre Ooijer, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mark van Bommel, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, John Heitinga, Robin van Persie, Ronald de Boer, Patrick Kluivert, Dirk Kuyt, Tim de Cler, Andy van der Meyde und Michel Salgado

Manager: Louis van Gaal

Goals: 1-0 Ailton (32‘, p), 1-1 Robben (35‘), 2-1 Trochowski (41‘), 2-2 van Persie (52‘), 3-2 Reinhradt (54‘), 3-3 van Nistelrooy (57‘), 4-3 van der Vaart (65‘), 4-4 Robben (69‘), 4-5 van Nistelrooy (73‘), 4-6 van der Meyde (76‘), 5-6 van der Vaart (77‘), 5-7 van der Meyde (79‘), 6-7 van der Vaart Junior (89‘)