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Kluivert made his full international debut on 16 November 1994 in a European qualifier against the Czech Republic, replacing Youri Mulder after 13 minutes of a 0–0 draw in Rotterdam. In his second match, on 29 March 1995, he replaced Ronald de Boer after 77 minutes, and seven minutes later scored his first international goal to wrap up a 4–0 home qualifying win over Malta. In December 1995, Kluivert scored both goals in the Netherlands’ 2–0 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying play-off win over Ireland at Anfield, to qualify the Oranje for UEFA Euro 1996. Kluivert missed most of the tournament with a knee injury but he scored against host nation England, to enable the Netherlands to qualify for the knock-out round over Scotland on goal difference. There, they lost in a penalty shootout to France. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Kluivert was sent off against Belgium by referee Pierluigi Collina after elbowing Lorenzo Staelens. He made amends when selected to play against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the same tournament where he scored the opening goal. He also impressed in later matches, scoring a late equalising goal from a header to draw his team level with Brazil in the semi-final, although Holland went on to lose the penalty shootout. The UEFA Euro 2000 would represent Kluivert’s finest hour as the spearhead of a star-studded Oranje side. Kluivert scored a hat-trick in the 6–1 quarter-final demolition of Yugoslavia; he was originally credited with four goals, but the third was later re-attributed as an own goal by Yugoslavia’s Dejan Govedarica after Kluivert admitted not getting a touch on Paul Bosvelt’s cross. Had all four goals stood, Kluivert would have been the first player to score four times in a European Championship finals match. The semi-final against Italy would provide much heartache for Kluivert, as the Dutch yet again crashed out on penalties. Neither Kluivert nor his Dutch side could find the back of the net, despite twice having a chance from the penalty spot – Kluivert himself would miss one of those penalties during the game, but did score in the penalty shoot-out. Despite the Dutch falling short, Kluivert will be remembered for rising to the occasion in front of partisan home crowds, scoring five goals in as many games, jointly claiming the Golden Boot with Savo Milošević. Kluivert would once again enter UEFA Euro 2004 wearing the famous #9 jersey for his country with the Dutch reaching the semifinals of the tournament. As well as from being left out of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad by coach Marco van Basten, Kluivert was not called up to play in any of the qualifying games leading up to the World Cup either. This was due to the fact that he suffered persistent injuries which prevented him from playing for his club during the 2005-06 season. Kluivert was the all-time leading goalscorer for the Dutch national team with 40 goals, until he was surpassed by Robin van Persie in 2013.
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