Novogorsk (Russia), June 28 (IANS) Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who helmed the Russian football team for four years, on Thursday paid a visit to his former pupils and cheered them ahead of their upcoming clash against Spain in the World Cup knockout stage.
Hiddink coached Russia in 2006-10 and led the team to its greatest international success: reaching the semifinal at the 2008 EURO in Austria and Switzerland, which it lost 0-3 against precisely Spain, its rival on Sunday’s last-16 tie, reports Efe.
During his visit at the Russians’ training base in Novogorsk, located some 30 km from Moscow, Hiddink was warmly welcomed by his successor and current head coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, who also acted as his interpreter as Hiddink delivered an improvised motivational speech.
The players, who had formed a circle around the Dutchman, enthusiastically clapped after he finished his impassioned pep talk.
Hiddink is a hardened veteran of the game who has coached several Spanish teams such as Real Madrid (1998-99), Valencia or Betis as well as the Dutch, Australian, Turkish and South Korean national teams.
He defied all expectations when he led South Korea to the semifinal in the 2002 World Cup that the Asian nation co-hosted after defeating Spain in the penalty shoot-out in a highly controversial quarterfinal marked by the referee’s contentious decisions.
He became so popular in South Korea following that victory that the country decided to rename the stadium in Gwangju where the match was played in his honor, while a Hiddink-themed museum in his hometown of Varsseveld – known as the “Guuseum” – remains a popular stopover for South Korean tourists visiting the Netherlands.
He also became the first person ever to be awarded honorary South Korean citizenship.