Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has drafted in some high-profile support for Thursday night’s Brisbane international against New Zealand’s All Whites.
He’s invited his former boss, celebrated manager Guus Hiddink, to join him in the dug-out and to help the Australian squad prepare for their two-match series against New Zealand.
“I got a call from Arnie. It wasn’t a question. He said, ‘I want you to come’,” Hiddink told media on Wednesday.
“Without any doubts for a second, I said: ‘I’m coming’.”
Hiddink (75) was the head coach of Australia when they reached the final 16 at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and Arnold was his assistant.
‘I just had this crazy thought one night …’
Arnold explained he wanted to call on Hiddink’s ability to inspire players as they prepare for the games against New Zealand and the upcoming Qatar World Cup.
“I just had this crazy thought one night to bring back a guy that’s mentored me and helped me so much in my life and my career,” Arnold said.
“We need the best (players) and I know with Guus’s eye on talent and the way he speaks to players, in this camp he can be a real bonus.”
Arnold said Hiddink had met some of the current Australian squad when he arrived at the team’s hotel on Wednesday morning.
“The look on their faces straightaway said enough,” he said.
“Those kids, who are our players now, were probably five, six to 10 years of age in 2006, and they all idolised him.”
Arnold and Hiddink meet the media
Dutch-born Hiddink managed many clubs and national teams in a 35-year career after retiring as a player.
His clubs included PSV, Fenerbahçe, Valencia, Real Madrid, Betis, Chelsea (twice as interim manger).
He’s held national coaching roles with Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia, Turkey, China and Curaçao.