NICE, France: Veteran Wesley Sneijder is dreaming of playing in a fourth World Cup next summer and believes a good season with Nice can help him achieve that aim.
The 33-year-old, the most capped player in the Netherlands’ history with 131 national team appearances, was the latest marquee signing to join the Cote d’Azur outfit when he put pen to paper on Tuesday.
He joins the likes of Mario Balotelli, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dante and Younes Belhanda as recent stand-out signings for the ambitious Ligue 1 outfit, who face a two-legged play-off with Napoli later this month to qualify for the Champions League group stages.
And despite Nice losing their opening match of the Ligue 1 campaign 1-0 at Saint-Etienne on Saturday, Sneijder believes this can be another successful season for the Eaglets.
“Of course I’m thinking about playing the World Cup in Russia, that’s obvious,” he told journalists during his first press conference at the club on Tuesday.
“I want to play always on the high level. If I have the chance to go to a World Cup, I have to go for it.
“It’s important to me, of course, but first we’re going to make a great season with Nice and I really believe in that.”
Nice finished third last season behind champions Monaco and big-spenders Paris Saint-Germain, who had taken Ben Arfa off them last summer.
Belhanda’s loan spell from Dynamo Kiev was up at the end of last season and he subsequently signed for Galatasaray, to replace Sneijder who was released on a free transfer.
Now the Dutchman, a winner of league titles in four different countries, will fill the Moroccan international’s boots on the south coast of France.
“I always make a decision to go for a new adventure and a new challenge,” said Sneijder, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010.
“I always want to play for prizes — I’ve won many prizes in my career so far, I’m never getting tired of winning prizes. That’s why I’m here and I believe we can do something very good.”
Sneijder won the Dutch title with Ajax, the Spanish La Liga with Real Madrid, Italy’s Serie A with Inter and then most recently the Turkish top flight.
“I’m still a winner and I hate to lose, that’s what I always have inside me: that’s my character and I’ll never change that,” he said.
He won’t be making his Nice debut on Friday against Troyes, though, as his coach Lucien Favre believes he is not yet match fit.
“He’ll need a few days, or even a few weeks to get back into his stride because he hasn’t done much preparation,” said the Swiss handler.
“He had two months of holidays where he trained alone, we can’t put him in the team on Friday.”