It has been a long time coming, but former Turkish national team coach Guus Hiddink has finally signed a contract with FC Anzhi Makhachkala to become the team's new coach, the club announced on its website on Friday.
Hiddink will not only be Anzhi's new coach, he will also become the club's vice president, on to oversee Anzhi's development as it strives to become one of Europe's football powerhouses. The wealthy club from Dagestan made headlines over the summer with the signing of international superstar Samuel Eto'o. Backed by the financial muscle of local strongman and club owner Suleyman Kerimov, Anzhi is keen to sign more high-profile players in the near future.
Rumors of Hiddink's move to Anzhi had been circulating for months, starting as early as October of last year when he was still coaching the Turkish national team. The Dutchman, however, remained loyal to Turkey and did not leave until the national team's dismal performance against Croatia in Zagreb on Nov. 15. Hiddink has kept a low profile ever since, but in comments on Anzhi's interest in his services to Russian media on Nov. 20, said: “This [Anzhi] is a project, and that is what I like. For the region, a poor part of the country [Dagestan], it is very good to have such a strong team. Football helps the people of the region. This is a wonderful project.”
In January, Dutch media reported Hiddink had indeed signed with Anzhi, but in a surprising move the club hired the services of Yury Krasnozhan. The Russian was sacked on Feb. 13 after dismal results. Four days later, on Feb. 17, Anzhi announced it had signed Hiddink as its new coach. In a statement on the club's website, the Dutchman said he had indeed had lengthy talks with the club back in January, which enabled the deal to be closed on short notice when it came up again last week.
Hiddink back in Turkey
In an ironic twist of fate, the Dutchman signed his contract in Turkey as the club is currently in Belek for a training camp. Hiddink is not very well liked in Turkey as he is held responsible for ending Turkey's dream of making it to the Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine in the coming summer.
Turkish football fans may soon have another reason to be angry at Hiddink. Anzhi reportedly looks to rob the Turkish league of golden boy Burak Yılmaz, Trabzonspor's treasured goal machine, Turkish football website Sporx reported on Friday. Burak's stellar performance in the league has allegedly raised his price tag to as much as 20 million euros, a sum the wealthy Dagestan club would have no trouble paying.
Hiddink, too, will be well rewarded for his services. He will reportedly be paid 9.9 million euros per year. “Money is not the most important thing,” Hiddink told Dutch media on Friday, “but I guess it is obvious that I won't have to struggle to secure a pension at the age of 65.” The Dutchman has signed a one-and-a-half year contract.