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Hopeful Uppercut

Posted December. 17, 2002 22:40,   


Former head coach of Korean national football team, ‘Santa Claus’ Guus Hiddink(56.coach of Einthoven PSV) who came from Holland stayed in Korea for one and half year. Koreans laughed and cried on his words and actions in such a short time.

Coach Hiddink is not a simple ‘football engineer’. He was ‘CEO of football’ who ran Korean national team. He aimed for the goal and put his plans into practice one by one.

Once, he got a shameful nickname so called ‘five to zero’, after being defeated from France and Check by 0-5 successively, however, he remained firm. When there was big criticism for confirming ‘best 11’, he still trained multi players changing positions of Lee Yong-pyo, Park Ji-sung, Song Jong-guk, etc. He didn’t stir an inch despite complaints that ‘injured players might increase due to body training only’ but enforced ‘body training program’. And finally, he led ‘mythology of world cup semi final’.

Coach Hiddink’s ‘Managing football’ can be summarized in big five points. △ ability for ability`s sake (ignoring blood and regional relationship in selection. Inducing unlimited competition by not appointing ACE) △ scientific treatment (developing strategy and body based on sports biology and sports psychology) △ fight with a strong team as to become strong team △ systematization prior to star player △ mutual communication between senior and junior.

In deed, Hiddink’s football managing style is not new. Most of the European coaches might know it. Even domestic coaches know how to cut off blood and regional relationship, too. However, importance is practice. Coach Hiddink achieved it amid criticism and complaints and Korean coaches couldn’t do it, even though they knew it.

Coach Hiddink who led Korea to world cup semi finals became the biggest hero since Dangun era. Management books related to his theory of football were published all in rows and ‘Hiddink lecture’ opened at universities. In stadium stand during world cup, placards depicting ‘Hiddink for president’ were displayed. Politicians besides enterprises concentrated on ‘learning Hiddink’. Experts analyzed that coach Hiddink ministered change in Korea. It is ‘Hiddink syndrome’ that swept Korea this year.

However, as time is passing, popularity of coach Hiddink is getting cold. There is even criticism that he comes to Korea frequently just for earning money. Nevertheless, nobody denies that he is our ‘everlasting hero’.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com