Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Abramovich's Buddy Ready to Bridge the Gap from Russia with Love

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Abramovich's Buddy Ready to Bridge the Gap from Russia with Love

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON JOHNSON Football Correspondent

THE close relationship Roman Abramovich has enjoyed with Guus Hiddink has always posed the question of when, rather than if, the Dutchman would ever take over at Stamford Bridge.

That question was answered this afternoon, when Hiddink confirmed he has opened talks with Chelsea over taking charge for the rest of the season.

The 62-year-old admitted the only reason he is prepared to entertain the idea of taking the role, which would be combined with his job as Russia coach, is because of his bond with the multibillionaire.

It was with the help of Abramovich's financial backing that Russia were able to lure him to become their national coach in 2006 and they have already been well rewarded by reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

This is not the first time Abramovich has turned to his friend for advice, although their initial contact was purely on how to improve the state of Russian football at international level.

The duo have been in contact since 2005, when Hiddink was impressing as manager of PSV Eindhoven, and it was no surprise that he ended up getting the national job.

As the former Real Madrid coach revealed in a column for

Dutch newspaper Der Telegraaf two years ago, he said: "I met him five times. Four times in London and once secretly at the PSV training complex.

"What struck me about Abramovich was his supportive way of thinking. He is not the type to demand things but he is interested in how you would do things. The more clarity you can give him, the more he appreciates that. And despite his enormous wealth, he will never abuse his position or status.

"He is a very relaxed man, highly committed in sports in general and football in particular.

But he is not so much interested in the technicalities of the execution. …

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