Summer 2024

Cody Gakpo leading Netherlands at Euro 2024, says his faith in God 'gives me peace'

Cody Gakpo has started four group stage games at major tournaments for the Dutch men’s national team and has scored in all of them. The Liverpool winger netted three of the Netherlands’ five goals in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup and got on the scoresheet again in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Poland at Euro 2024.

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With the Dutch trailing in the 29th minute, Gakpo took a shot from just outside the box that found the back of the net via a deflection.

A late goal from substitute Wout Weghorst completed the comeback in what was the opening game of the tournament for both teams.

Gakpo rose to prominence with a 12-goal, 12-assist season for PSV in the Dutch Eredivisie in 2021-22. He began the 2022-23 campaign by producing three goals and three assists in three games and was attracting interest from Premier League clubs Leeds United and Southampton during the summer transfer window.

The transfer window closed Aug. 31, 2022, the same day PSV faced Volendam. Gakpo needed to decide whether to stay at PSV or move to England, so he leaned on his strong faith in God and surrendered the situation to the Lord.

“It was hectic, and it was difficult from a mental point of view,” Gakpo told ESPN in a recent interview. “So, in the end I put it all in God’s hands. If I scored once, I was going to Southampton; twice and I was going to Leeds; if I scored three, I was staying.”

He scored twice in the first half. A third goal came early in the second half, but it took a heavy deflection off a defender, so it was unclear if he’d be given credit. When he was taken off in the 63rd minute, it appeared he was headed to Leeds. But that last goal was ultimately awarded to him, so he stayed at PSV.

Gakpo’s 21 goal involvements in 14 Eredivisie games that season and his impressive display at the World Cup in November-December 2022 attracted even more attention from some of the biggest Premier League clubs, and he joined Liverpool after the World Cup in the winter of 2022.

“It was very hard [to leave PSV],” he told ESPN. “I played there in total, I think with academy and everything together, 17 or so years; lots of friends, lots of good people. But yeah, I think it was just time. That was where I could feel God’s presence as well because it was just in His hands, and it happened so quick. I was so calm, and I was not really stressed about those things. So that was for me also a sign like it’s a God move.”

The 25-year-old scored seven goals in 21 appearances during the second half of the 2022-23 Premier League season. He contributed 16 goals across all competitions in the 2023-24 season, his first full one with the club.

And faith is a central component of Gakpo’s life, as he often uses his Instagram account to give glory to God.

“Faith gives me peace,” he told Premier Christianity in 2023. “And strength when I need it. I often read the Bible before I go to sleep. It is a kind of love letter that tells us how we should treat each other.”

On Monday, Gakpo captioned a post celebrating his goal “Praise to the Most High.”

He also led Bible studies for the Dutch team at the World Cup. Wherever Gakpo is, there’s a good chance he’s got a Bible with him.

“Not only in my career, religion helps my whole life,” he told Premier Christianity. “It’s a lifestyle for me. I take the Bible with me everywhere and every day, in the UK or wherever else.”

The Dutch face World Cup runner-up France in their second Euro 2024 game at 3 p.m. ET on Friday, then finish out the group stage against Austria on Tuesday. The top two teams in the six groups and the top four third-place teams advance to the round of 16.

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