The Hague: Guus Hiddink will return as Netherlands coach for the second time after the World Cup finals in what could be his football swansong.
But you never know with a character like Hiddink whose 32-year career has also seen him coach South Korea, Australia, Russia, Turkey, Real Madrid and Chelsea. He never seems to be able to say goodbye.
This time Hiddink, 67, will take over from Louis Van Gaal — who has guided the Dutch to the Brazil finals — on a mission to make sure the European mavericks reach the 2016 European Championships.
Hiddink will work with former internationals Danny Blind and Ruud van Nistelrooy as his main assistants, the Dutch Footall Federation (KNVB) said.
His contract will run only to the end of Euro 2016, after which time Blind, 52, will take over ahead of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
“It is wonderful that I can oversee my own succession. In this way the football vision for the Dutch team in the long term can be guaranteed,” said Hiddink.
A KNVB statement confirmed hat “Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind and Ruud van Nistelrooy form the new technical staff of the Dutch team” from after the Brazil finals until Euro 2016.
As a player, Hiddink was a tough midfielder with Dutch clubs PSV Eindhoven, De Graafschap and NEC Nijmegen and briefly in the early US major-league.
He has made his name as a coach who can bring out the best in temperamental squads of superstars or underachieving underdogs.
His first coaching job was with PSV Eindhoven with whom he won the European Cup in 1988. He spent three years in charge of the Oranje national team in the 1990s, reaching the World Cup semi-finals at France 1998.
With the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Edgard Davids and the De Boer brothers, the Dutch were talented but often in dispute. Hiddink quickly established his authority, famously sending Davids home from the 1996 European Championship finals.
The Dutch were beaten by Brazil on penalties in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup and Hiddink quit soon after and went to Real Madrid. It is maybe one of the moves he most regrets. His stay latest barely six months amid poor form on the pitch and reported wrangling with the Real board about club finances.
He was also sacked by Real Betis in 2000 but has always retained his cache as a brilliant football schemer. He went from Spain to coach South Korea that had spent heavily on hosting the 2002 World Cup finals, but had never previously won a match in appearances at four previous finals.
Hiddink was the inspiration as South Korea reached the semi-finals, exceeding even the wildest expectations of a country that has since adopted him as a national hero, with honorary South Korean citizenship.
In Australia, he became known as “Aussie Guus” after getting the national side into the 2006 World Cup finals — the first they had reached in more than three decades.
Hiddink also made his mark in a four month stint with Chelsea, winning the FA Cup in his final match as a stand-in. But spells with Turkey and more recently with Russian club Anzhi went only moderately well.
He had been tipped for a return to Australia after leaving Russia in July last year, but reportedly was not interested in taking charge for their World Cup campaign.
Van Gaal, 62, had already indicated he would leave after the World Cup in Brazil and has already been tipped as a possible Tottenham Hotspur manager.
Netherlands were runners-up at the 2010 World Cup but slumped to three defeats in as many matches at Euro 2012.
They are drawn in Group B for the World Cup with title-holders Spain, Chile and Australia. For Euro 2016 they are in Group A qualifying group with the Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan.