'I'd love to go to Brazil'
STOPPED from travelling to the World Cup 20 years ago, this summer Jonathan de Guzman hopes to finally reach the tournament.
The Swansea City midfielder was six when he wanted to travel from Canada to watch a game at USA 94.
But his parents had other ideas.
They decided he was too little to join brother Julian in the stands for Brazil's draw with Sweden at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit.
"I couldn't go because I was too young. That is a World Cup memory that has stuck with me," said de Guzman.
"It probably would have been a bit too hectic travelling. It was too much for me so my mom said I had to stay back.
"My dad used to do a little competition for the family. You had to make score predictions, he made it fun.
"I don't remember what the prize was but it was a fun game in the family.
"My hero in that World Cup was Romario. He was excellent and I remember his goal celebration."
Two decades later, the winners of the final that year will host the competition.
Brazil is the destination for next summer's World Cup and this time de Guzman hopes to sample the occasion.
He and Swansea colleague Michel Vorm are part of a Holland squad that breezed through their qualification group to book a place in the finals.
Louis van Gaal's side have the best record of any team in the nine pools, reaching Rio at a canter as they remained unbeaten, dropping just two points from ten matches.
"Everyone's very excited to have made the World Cup and it's in the capital country of football, which is great," said de Guzman.
"The preparation for the games has been very good. Every time I've enjoyed myself and learned things as well.
"The coach there is demanding. The most important thing is that I'm fit, and when I'm playing it's up to me to make an impression.
"With the squad we've got, the games we've played and the things I've experienced, I think we have a team that could do damage in the World Cup and defeat any team we play against."
Holland came within a game of lifting the trophy four years ago when they were beaten in the final by Spain.
Up against more technically gifted opponents, Holland adopted a physical approach in the Johannesburg showpiece for which they were criticised.
Eight Dutch players were booked in the match by English referee Howard Webb, while John Heitinga was sent off in extra-time after receiving two yellow cards.
That dismissal broke Holland resistance and Andres Iniesta scored seven minutes later to secure a Spanish victory.
"It was a great game to watch, it went back and forth both ways. Hopefully we can make it that far again and the luck will be with us," said de Guzman.
"I watched it at home in Rotterdam. I didn't want to go to any pubs or packed places because I wanted to concentrate on the game.
"To be part of the World Cup squad this time would be a great experience.
"A final's a final, it's a win or lose situation. A lot of things can happen in a final and it was one to remember.
"It was a physical game and hopefully we can make it that far again."
Two years later an expectant Dutch public watched their side bomb at Euro 2012.
Holland lost all of their group games to finish bottom of the pool.
But de Guzman believes his international colleagues have grown from that experience.
Since that failure de Guzman has been added to Holland's squad after impressing in the Premier League with Swansea.
He arrived in South Wales 15 months ago having been a bit-part player for a Villarreal side that were relegated from La Liga.
But the skilful midfielder caught the eye of those far and wide last term as Michael Laudrup's side complemented an impressive top flight campaign by lifting the Capital One Cup.
"Since 2008 when I got citizenship I always wanted to play for Holland," added de Guzman.
"Canada had been asking, trying to get me to play for them, but I made the point every time I was asked. I was clear about me decision and I've stuck with it.
"I wasn't really expecting a call-up, it came as a bit of a surprise last season, but every time I get another one it becomes more normal."
Such an honour is also now a regular occurrence for Swansea.
Aside from de Guzman and Vorm, the likes of Ben Davies, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Wilfried Bony and most recently Michu are also full internationals.
"It's great for the squad and great for Swansea City," added de Guzman.
"It shows where we are. The Dutch national team, the Ivory Coast national team and Michu with the Spanish national team, it's great and I think everyone has acknowledged Swansea.
"We're on that international level."