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Dunhill’s work with youngsters is ‘a goal close to my heart’ says football legend Ruud Gullit

They have been one of the marquee pairings of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Tyrrell Hatton, a two-time champion, and Ruud Gullit, still regarded as the first rock star footballer.

The two came close to making the cut in 2018, missing out by just three shots, but Ruud made just as big an impact for what he said off the course, as how he played on it.

In the late 1980s, Ruud, recognised everywhere by his flowing dreadlocks, was one of the best footballers in the world winning the European Cup twice with AC Milan and captaining Holland to the 1988 European Championship. He was named World Footballer of the Year in 1987 and 1989.

He began playing street football as a young boy in Amsterdam, before coming to the attention of the Dutch youth team, and has intimate experience of how sport can help young people to achieve sporting and personal success.

That’s why he is so passionate about the aims of the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, which encourages youngsters, in particular, to take up golf and to support them.

Charitable causes that benefit from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation include the South African Golf Development Board that offers coaching to youngsters from underprivileged areas and strives to make golf accessible to all South Africans.

“Football gave me a goal when I was young. I had a certain talent and I had to work hard for it. I realise I’ve been extremely lucky to be born in a country that is stable and has sports facilities – not everyone is so lucky,” said Ruud.

“I always want to give something back to society, which is why it is wonderful to be part of the Alfred Dunhill Links and the charities that benefit from it – and helping kids into sport in South Africa is close to my heart.

“Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes – he was so charismatic that he was able to change the world, collaborating and forgiving those who mistreated him for the good of the people.

“I met him when he had just come out of prison and he knighted me for my support. When I won the Golden Ball (the Ballon d’Or) in 1987 I dedicated it to Mandela.”