The Oranje endured an abysmal Euro 2012 campaign from which they crashed out at the group stages with no points, despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites. They then lost 4-2 to Belgium in new coach Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge.
The former Liverpool attacker says the team is still recovering from a terrible summer but feels the spirit in the Netherlands camp is good as they prepare for their upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Turkey and Hungary, insisting everybody is committed to a successful campaign in Brazil in 2014.
“The fear of our opponents is gone, we have to rebuild,” says the Fenerbahce player. “It is good that the expectations for the next World Cup are still to reach the semi-finals.
“The Netherlands go to each tournament with the idea that we want to win, otherwise I'd rather just stay at home.”
The 32-year-old believes the team’s confidence is still suffering from the humiliation in Poland and Ukraine and other teams are no longer intimidated by them, but says discussions about the future have been positive.
“The players that are still here since the European Championships are coming off a huge disappointment. Under Van Marwijk we played with great confidence for three and a half years. We felt like we would go out and win, no matter who was in the team or who we were playing.
“But that feeling has disappeared. The fear of our opponents has disappeared very quickly. It is important that we regain our confidence. I thought all the conversations we had in the three days around the Belgium game were very important. They have given me the feeling that everyone is serious to make something out of it.”
He added: “The most important thing in football is realising that the team is more important than you. If anyone, even a country like Greece, can become European champions then we can do something at the next World Cup.
“We still have plenty of older guys who can perform at the World Cup and who knows where some of the younger talents will be in two years? A lot can happen in two years.”
Netherlands play Turkey on Friday in their opening qualifier before they face Hungary on Tuesday.