Dear Mr. Seedorf:
With all due respect, your dismissal of the use of performance enhancing drugs in soccer seems a little too convenient. What say you about the fact that two of your teammates on the Ajax side that won the 1995 European Cup, Edgar Davids and Frank DeBoer, have both failed doping tests for nandrolone?
–Paul, Bellrose Terrace

A.

I am not dismissing anything. The issue was raised because people don’t know what is going on. I’m 20 years in the business and this is my opinion. I’m not one to be afraid to voice my opinion, but I want to say what I think is the case.

Most of the time, it’s a lack of knowledge of substances that the athletes take, even products that they use for other problems, like nose sprays and certain hair gel. There are a whole bunch of things that can influence your profile for certain substances.

The nadrolone in the case of Davids, who I know very well, is like this. He and I started out together even before the Ajax school, outside the team, in the gym, we were working on our core, doing stability exercises, strengthening. He’s always been very focused, very healthy, looking at how he eats.

He was tested, but it has also created a lot of issues, because nandrolone in people in certain parts of the world, they have a higher level than people have in other parts.
If the criteria of the federation is, let’s say, 50, but naturally, somebody has 48 or whatever, and then just using something that he doesn’t even know will increase his count — it’s difficult for a player. But in both cases, both players said, “I didn’t take anything on purpose.”

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to this.

The fact that somebody failed a doping test doesn’t mean they took something to improve their performance. It’s different taking something that you know you’re taking and taking something that didn’t improve your performance but put your health at risk and maybe your career.

And there’s so much testing, so it is so stupid to take something when you know you’d be caught.

There’s no culture of this in football. Yes, they use energy drinks, supplements, sure, because we are doing a sport that asks a lot of our bodies. These are all legal and normal stuff to make sure your body stays healthy. But to go into substances that will increase your endurance or muscular power would increase your chance of getting caught. I’ve lived this for 20 years and I cannot count five of the players who I played with who were interested in these things, who knew about these things.

Also, we need to trust in our medical staff. They are the ones who advise us. We are not experts. We always trust in our doctors.

In the United States, they use stuff in the preseason to prepare themselves for their season. We play 11 months of the year, so when we are away from the game, we don’t train. Maybe we play some tennis, but we rest. It’s a whole other culture, a whole other mentality.

I see a number of commercials on TV of a whole lot of substances you can use in the States. In Europe, you don’t see these things. You see running machines or medical nose sprays, but the sports supplements, I don’t see them on TV in Europe.

And of course, any individual, athlete or not athlete, should think of his health before anything. I’ve performed my entire career without using any of those things and at a very high level. So I know there’s no use for that. My teammates, everyone is afraid of being in contact with these things because of the risks.

I don’t think it is dismissing anything. If it was true, I’d be attacking it because I’m not in favor of it.

Q.

Hi Clarence! I have a couple of questions: Did you put yourself out of contention for the Oranje? Who in the squad is your favorite to finally take Holland deep?
– Joe Bailey, New York City

A.

No, I didn’t take myself out. That was the decision of the Dutch team. They didn’t call me when the new coach came in.

The few players who have something more to help are playing in the finals in the Champions League right now. Wesley Sneijder for Inter Milan and Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben for Bayern Munich. Also Robin van Persie of Arsenal, who is not fit yet, but he will be. He could be very important.

Sneijder and Robben are in great shape. In the attacking space of the Dutch team, they will be very important.

Q.

Clarence,
What are your thoughts on your AC Milan teammates, Ronaldinho and Pato, and their failure to make the Brazilian World Cup team? If you were Dunga would you have done the same?
–Scott, Chicago

A.

I’m not Dunga, so I don’t have the total view of the situation. But to leave those two players at home means he has very good players in their place.

Pato was injured for a long time this season, so that was logical, and he is very young. He will have the World Cup in his future.

Ronaldinho had a quite good season, very strong, especially in the middle part of the season. I don’t think it was how he performed that kept him out, but rather Dunga wanting to keep the players with whom he started. (It’s a little bit why I’m not in the national team too.)

Last season for Ronaldinho, yes, there were other things, but this season, there are no real technical reasons for him not to be called by the Brazilian squad. But Dunga has Kaka and he has Robinho, so he probably thinks they are enough.

Really: Brazil has a luxury problem. I think a lot of coaches would love to have had this problem.

Q.

You’ve had the opportunity to train alongside and play with US centerback Oguchi Onyewu while also facing off against numerous other Americans throughout your career. Can you assess the talent level of the American squad heading to the World Cup and give us your prediction for the crucial opening round match between England and the US? Thanks in advance and enjoy your holidays!
–Alex McLane, Coconut Grove, Florida

A.

I think that the U.S. has a good team, but I don’t know them all that well. I think that the U.S. has definitely shown growth over the last years.

Oguchi hopefully will be at his full best physically to perform with his team and he will be important, of course, for them. Especially with the fact that he didn’t play the whole season, he will be highly motivated.

I don’t have expectations for the U.S. in the sense that the U.S. has always been a little bit surprising us. There were moments that we thought they were not good enough and they came out strong. I think that what is missing though is the consistency at the big tournaments.

That’s why I think the first game against England is so important. There’s not too much to lose for them because I think that England is one of the favorites and that’s why I think they will play great against them. I expect a really tough match and I suspect an interesting result. I think they can get a result, maybe a draw, even a win.

I saw an very interesting story about them and the history of the United States and England, in the 50s, when the U.S. won against England. I think there is a lot of attention for this match and extra motivation, more than even the World Cup. Probably more for the U.S. players than for England. So that will be the extra weapon against the English, extra energy.

Q.

Dear Mr. Seedorf:
Inter will probably win the Seria A title and possibly the Champions League title without a single Italian player in the starting 11. Balotelli is a sub and Materazzi never plays in big games for Inter. What do you make of a club team in the Italian first division that has so few Italian players on its roster? Is Inter bad for the development of Italian soccer players? Italy will send a national team to the world cup without a single player from Inter — the club team that won its domestic league title. What do you think this means for the state of Italian soccer?
–Umberto, Miami

A.

I think it is a choice that Inter has made years ago. But they have a good youth system actually and some of the young players have been coming out.

It’s a choice they made, a philosophy — they like to work with international players. It’s also an international game. There are so many other good teams who could take care of the younger players and help them develop too maybe.

Besides, Mario Balotelli is Italian and he will definitely be playing in the coming years for Inter.

If there are good players they will take them, Italian or not.

Q.

Hi Clarence,
It has already been announced that AC Milan will have another manager next year, making three different faces in three years with Leonardo being replaced. How does a manager affect the outcome of a football match and what didn’t happen under Leonardo that needs to be improved for a championship next season. Best of luck, hope to see you when you come play in Washington DC.
–Kyle Baker, Unionville, Connecticut

A.

I’m surprised that they thin it is such a concrete thing already. We haven’t heard anything yet. I think we will hear something this Saturday or next Monday when everything is over. At this moment, we have to wait.

I think this team has done everything that was in our possibility for this year, with injuries from February on. Third place was a goal, getting in the Champions League for next year was one of the goals. We did that, we did our job.

Now next year, we’ll try to improve all of our games.

Q.

My question has to do with your memories of the epic 1998 World Cup semifinal between the Netherlands and Brazil. Even though that amazing game was 12 summers ago I remember it like it was yesterday. What do you remember of that game?
Thank you,
David Z

A.

I was just quite upset because I wasn’t playing. And I remember that we actually deserved to go into the finals. The Dutch have never shown to be very lucky with penalty kicks. But a lot of tension. I came in for the last part of the extra time, so those are not really the memories that I look back at with a lot of pleasure. When I look back I try to look back at the nice things not the bad things. It was not a highlight of my career.

Penalty kicks are not good. I would play until somebody scores.

Q.

Do you have a prediction for the Champions League final? What can fans in Madrid, who certainly know their soccer, expect from Inter Milan and Bayern Munich?

A.

Looking at the two coaches, it will be very tactical. It’s a final, so no risks. They will both probably play on a counter attack. So I’m not expecting a spectacular match from one side. But I think it will be one of those type of boring games in a final, which generally are quite boring from an entertainment point of view.

It will be a tremendous atmosphere, as finals are. I’ve played five of them and only one of them was really good football, and we lost that one. They tend to be tactical and physical games. And if you look also at the other finals, there are very few finals where you see great football.

The 2005 final in Istanbul when we lost to Liverpool in penalties, it was the best final game I’ve played with my teams. Looking at the full 90 minutes, we had only six minutes where we blacked out. It was ridiculous. Over the 90 minute we played well, created a lot of chances. It is rare to have a final where you play open football. It’s just not the case. It doesn’t mean it’s not exciting for the people or exciting to play. But a lot of the time the semifinals or the quarter finals are more spectacular than the finals.

Madrid, when I played with Madrid, was exciting. Barcelona and Manchetser United last year, but even that’s not what we’ve seen before from Barcelona and Manchester. But that’s the final: it’s a totally different ball game. There is so much physical pressure, psychological pressure, any mistake can be fatal.

Q.

Which game in the first round of the World Cup will you not miss? What’s the matchup that fans should schedule to miss work to watch on TV?

A.

They shouldn’t miss anything. I’m talking to the world through this blog, so I think that from all parts of the world they will have their own interests. The fact that you support or watch any game of the world cup will have a value for someone somewhere in the world . So don’t miss any part, because it is only every four years.