Clarence Seedorf, left, is the only player to win the Champions League with three different teams. (Associated Press)
Clarence Seedorf turns 35 in a few weeks but the passage of time clearly hasn't doused the competitive fires that burn inside the Dutchman.
Seedorf was overcome with emotion following AC Milan's Champions League elimination at the hands of Spurs earlier this week - so much so that the veteran midfielder walked away from an interview conducted by an Italian journalist while on the verge of tears.
Everybody knows the deal on Seedorf. It's mentioned in every story printed about him. This blog will be no exception.
The Dutchman won his first Champions League title in 1995 with Ajax when he was still a teenager. His second championship came three years later when he was a member of Real Madrid. His third and fourth Champions League victory came in 2003 and 2007 with AC Milan.
And here's the kicker: in the 56-year history of the European Cup/Champions League, Seedorf remains the only player to have won the trophy with three different clubs.
Impressive stats, to say the least, but they don't define Seedorf. His reaction during the post-match interview at White Hart Lane provided a window into his soul, a rare glimpse of who he really is.
And who he is a battle-weary warrior and ultimate competitor. He is a player who still takes losses personally. He is a man whose love of his team knows no bounds, as evidenced by the way he trudged off the field the other night, inconsolable after his beloved Rossoneri were eliminated from European soccer's ultimate club competition.
It's easy to be cynical in this modern era of soccer.
Too many players switch teams like they change bathrobes. So many of them flaunt their lavish lifestyles and wealth in the faces of supporters. They run to the corner flag and kiss the badge on their sweater in front of the Kop one minute, and then put in a transfer request the next.
Seedorf is not cut from this cloth.
He can still elevate his game on those special European nights, just like he did against Spurs when he found the fountain of youth and bossed the midfield with his vision, physical play, fearlessness and expert distribution.
Even after all these years, after four European trophies and countless personal accolades, after the millions of dollars he has earned, after the fame he has acquired, it's still about winning for the Dutchman.
Winning. Nothing more.
And when he doesn't win, he doesn't easily shrug it off and drive off in his Porshe as he heads back to his palatial estate.
He suffers. He commiserates. He is heart-broken.
That's the way it should be. Losses should still hurt, and wound, and reduce millionaire players to tears.
Clarence Seedorf is not a pay-cheque player, and soccer can use more like him.
Follow John F. Molinaro on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/JohnMolinaro
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