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Former Netherlands star Ruud Gullit has warned Rafael van der Vaart that his international career could come under threat if Hamburg fail to qualify for Europe.

Van der Vaart, who has 103 caps for Netherlands, left Tottenham Hotspur in the summer to return to former club Hamburg, but Gullit told Hamburger Morgenpost that the transfer was widely regarded as a step down.

"I thought Rafael was happy at Spurs," Gullit, who captained Netherlands to glory at Euro '88, added. "It would be good for him to play in a European competition with Hamburg next season."

Hamburg's prospects of qualifying for the Champions League suffered a setback at the weekend as they lost 1-0 at home to Augsburg in a match Van der Vaart, 30, had missed through illness.

That result saw Hamburg, who could have moved up to fourth, drop down to eighth.

Gullit said that Van der Vaart, despite being a "great player with extraordinary abilities", needs to play "at the top level" to help the national team and has to be "100% fit".


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