Guus Hiddink has rejected claims made in a Dutch newspaper that he will retire from football in the summer of 2013, bringing the curtain down on a coaching career that has spanned 30 years, seven clubs, five national teams and honours at domestic and European levels. "We were just discussing various options," the 66-year-old said. "I am not young any more and don't know what is going to happen next year, but I certainly did not claim that I will definitely end my career. It was just one of the options." As he ponders what to do next, UEFA.com picks out key campaigns from a stellar career.
1988: PSV Eindhoven
In March 1987 Hiddink, 40, stepped up from assistant, a role he had also held at De Graafschap, to become head coach at PSV Eindhoven. Despite the departure of Ruud Gullit for AC Milan, Hiddink's PSV won everything there was to win the following season, with players like Hans van Breukelen, Ronald Koeman, Søren Lerby, Wim Kieft, Erik Gerets and Gerald Vanenburg. The Dutch double was completed and after knocking out FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Real Madrid CF, they lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup, beating SL Benfica on penalties in Stuttgart with Van Breukelen saving the decisive spot kick.
"We were absolutely not the favourites," Hiddink said. "We were an unknown side with a lot of young dogs. The atmosphere was extremely good. Everyone would go through fire and water for each other, and that led to the European Cup victory."
After spells with Fenerbahçe SK and Valencia CF, Hiddink became Oranje coach in 1995. Knocked out in the EURO quarter-finals, at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France his side defeated Argentina in a dramatic last-eight tie to set up a meeting with holders Brazil in the semi-finals. Patrick Kluivert's late equaliser forced extra time, cancelling out Ronaldo's opener, and although Phillip Cocu and Ronald de Boer's penalties were saved in the ensuing penalty shoot-out to end Dutch hopes of a third World Cup final, fond memories remain – especially of the beautiful Dennis Bergkamp winner against Argentina.
"We were so close to the final, it was a real shame," Hiddink reflected. "We played our own game. All in all we played a good tournament there. We really left an excellent impression, worldwide."
2002: South Korea
After landing the European/South American Cup with Real Madrid CF in 1998, Hiddink was appointed to direct co-hosts South Korea at the 2002 World Cup. They had exited the last four finals at the group stage without a win, yet the Dutchman was to perform a small miracle. The players became dedicated to the national team, and through training camps and friendlies against leading countries Hiddink created a squad that would become the only Asian side to reach the semi-finals – where they lost to Germany. Hiddink himself attained legendary status in South Korea: not only was the Gwangju World Cup Stadium renamed after him, he was also the first foreigner to earn honorary South Korean citizenship.
"I am an international citizen," he said. "It is a great honour. I have great respect for the Korean people, and what the team has done at this World Cup has had a huge impact on the country."
Having matured considerably since his first stint in charge, Hiddink returned to Eindhoven in 2002. He was to collect three further championships and, in 2004/05, almost repeated his feat of 17 years before as PSV completed the double and came within an ace of the UEFA Champions League final. However, having wiped out a 2-0 deficit in their semi-final second leg at home to Milan, they fell behind to a last-minute Massimo Ambrosini goal, which proved decisive despite Cocu then levelling the aggregate score.
"We had a world-class team hanging on the ropes but the decisive knockout blow did not come," said Hiddink.
2009: Chelsea FC
After guiding Australia to the 2006 World Cup's last 16, and Russia to the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals, Hiddink was named interim manager at Chelsea in February 2009 alongside his Russian national-team duties. Taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari, Hiddink won 11 out of 13 matches, finishing in a strong third place and just missing out on the UEFA Champions League final following a last-gasp Andrés Iniesta goal for FC Barcelona. Having received a rousing reception in his last home game in charge, Hiddink signed off by masterminding a 2-1 FA Cup final defeat of Everton FC.
"Winning in the mecca of world football, the FA Cup, that's something I cannot believe," said Hiddink after the Wembley triumph.
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