Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

South Korea Learns to Love Brother Dink

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

South Korea Learns to Love Brother Dink

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BOND

HE is already being compared by some South Koreans to General Douglas MacArthur, the American military leader who master minded the liberation of the country from communist occupation-nearly 50 years ago.

Companies are queuing up to pay him a fortune to give seminars on his management techniques and most want to see Dutchman Guus Hiddink become an honorary citizen of the Republic.

Forget Sven-mania, there's something far bigger going on here.

Every time a picture of the Dutch coach, who has led the South Koreans to the second round of the World Cup for the first time in their history, appears on a giant screen in one of the World Cup stadiums, thousands of people leap to their feet screeching with excitement.

He has become a folk hero with websites crammed full of tributes to the 45-year-old they have nicknamed 'Brother Dink'.

The parallels with Eriksson's effect on English football are obvious. But it is a remarkable turnaround for the former Holland and Real Madrid manager.

When he arrived in January last year he was regarded as an unwelcome outsider. In a proud and patriotic country, Koreans, like the English, didn't like the idea that they needed a foreigner to revive their football fortunes.

Those feelings were made worse when the South Koreans were thrashed 5-0 by France in the Confederations Cup last June and he was criticised for dropping popular veterans Hong Myung Bo and Hwang Sun Hong.

When interviewed at the draw for the World Cup finals in Busan in December, Hiddink-was withdrawn. Aware of the criticism, he talked openly with foreign journalists but was tired of the barrage of negative coverage directed at him from the home press.

He even hinted that he was looking forward to the World Cup being out of the way and getting back to Europe and a top job with one of the Spanish or Dutch teams.

That still looks likely. But he will leave a hero, regardless of the outcome of today's encounter with Italy here.

"I couldn't believe it when I arrived," he said in December.

"The younger players in the national team were not even allowed to sit in the dressing room with the older players. …

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