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No Hero`s Welcome for Hiddink

Posted December. 02, 2002 23:01,   


There was no hero`s welcome for Guus Hiddink this time. It may be just that people are no longer looking for a hero these days.

It was a third visit back to Korea for the 56-year-old Dutch coach who successfully led the Korean football team through the World Cup. He is now heading a Dutch professional club PSV Inthoven.

On Dec. 2, only about 30 people, including reporters, were waiting for Hiddink at Incheon Int`l Airport. And the former coach had a short interview and went to Hyatt Hotel.

The mood was quite different from what it was like some 6 months ago – people were so crazy about this Dutch man that some even said `Hiddink for President.`

This time he is making an unofficial visit for TV ads, which will feature him. Even considering the fact, it is a dramatic change from the hero`s wlecome months ago. As for Hiddink, he is what he has been. He still feels proud of Korean football and players and have affection toward them.

Then, why is this cold reception? Things began to change first during the Inter-Korean friendly match on Sept. 7. At that time, the Korean Football Association insisted that Hiddink sit on the bench alongside then coach of the national team Park Hang-suh.

Although Hiddink went to the stand after being formally introduced to the audience, the incident led to a precipitation in his popularity. When weekly football magazine `Best Eleven` later conducted a poll asking whether to name Hiddink head of the national team again, a surprisingly large number of people, 71%, answered `no.`

Businesses` rushing to ride on Hiddink syndrome also hurt his image to the general public. This time alone, he will reap more than 3.3 billion won by making an appearance in two commercial films. Football fans began to say that Hiddink makes too much money in Korea.

Apart from the cold reception in Korea, however, Hiddink is recognized as a great person on the international stage. He received Ernest Yuke Award on Nov. 29 for his contributions to the society in general.