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Saturday, August 28, 1999 Published at 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK

Sport: Football

Dutch master floored by fatal flaw

Cosmopolitan Gullit could not cope with the relentless media attention

He is the player who won just about everything the game of football can offer.

He became the manager who awakened one of football's biggest sleeping giants and laid the foundations for the current success being enjoyed at Chelsea.

The BBC's Mike Mckay: "Gullit's charm offensive scores early success"
But his famous self-confidence - once regarded as his strength - proved his downfall as he lost the confidence of his players, led by captain Alan Shearer.

The fact Gullit blamed press intrusion for his decision to retire will simply have confirmed the view of many that the Dutchman was too willing to take credit for success - and unable to take the blame for failure.

[ image: Ken Bates:
Ken Bates: "Part-time playboy"
It was a view held by Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, no shrinking violet himself, who surprised some observers when he dispensed with Gullit's services.

Gullit had reportedly wanted a salary in the region of £1m.

But he quickly moved on and appeared to be the perfect candidate for the high-profile role that Newcastle's fans, directors, and of course the shareholders, demand.

The St James' Park fans did not ask much - success with style, two things enjoyed under Kevin Keegan but which his successor Kenny Dalglish failed to deliver.

[ image: Kevin Keegan: Gullit predecessor and supporters' hero]
Kevin Keegan: Gullit predecessor and supporters' hero
The Dutchman's style and swagger was based on his reputation as one of Europe's finest ever players. But as pressure mounted and results failed to go his way, his self-confidence appeared increasingly misplaced.

His decision to leave England captain Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson on the bench against arch-rivals Sunderland - and then blame them for the defeat - was the final straw.

His battle of wills with Shearer proved increasingly destructive to the team and to Gullit's credibility.

Many felt the Dutchman's famous ego was harming not helping the Newcastle cause.

Where Gullit goes from here remains to be seen. His coaching reputation has been severly dented - less by the fact that Newcastle won nothing under him and have just a single point this season - but by his poor judgement.

[ image: Gullit restored Chelsea to previous heights]
Gullit restored Chelsea to previous heights
Since Gullit arrived at St James' Park he spent a total of £30m without acheiving success - or any prospect of it.

It is another episode in an extremely eventful life of a man whose interests are broader than the average footballer's - including art and concerns such as campaigning against racism.

Born in Surinam on September 1, 1962, Gullit's clubs included Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, AC Milan, Sampdoria and Chelsea.

He was one of the world's best players - winning both European and World Footballer of the Year Awards in 1987, the same year as his then world record transfer to Milan.

The following year he captained his national side to the European Championships, following that with European Cups for Milan in 1989 and 1990.

Magic touch

The only big prize to elude him was the World Cup, but his magic touch soon extended to his managerial career.

In his first season he brought first a host of foreign star players, and then the FA Cup to Stamford Bridge, becoming the first foreign coach to lift a major trophy in England.

[ image: Dalglish: He too buckled under the pressure]
Dalglish: He too buckled under the pressure
Yet less than a year later he had been sacked by the club - a departure that, typically in Gullit's career and life, came completely out of the blue.

The reason was certainly not on the pitch.

His team were days away from a Coca-Cola Cup semi-final, second in the Premiership, and through to the quarter finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Instead it appeared that Gullit's attitude and commitment - both immediate and long-term - caused his swift exit.

Attitude problem

He had been stalling over signing a new contract for some time as his name was linked with managerial jobs with AC Milan and the Dutch national team.

He was also taking a Uefa coaching course, but Chelsea chairman Ken Bates complained that his manager's time was being taken by different extra-curricular activities.

He called Gullit a "part-time playboy" who, "carried out his lucrative commercial contracts at the expense of training".

It led to a bitter departure, before Chelsea went on to win both of the cup competitions they were still in.

Pressure for success

Some will find it difficult to swallow Gullit's explanation for his resignation. While he enjoyed living in the spotlight in London - using press interest in him to publicise business ventures such as his own fashion range - he blamed it for his failure at Newcastle when success did not come his way.

Perhaps Gullit under-estimated the football-obsessed demands of the Newcastle public.

In the wake of his resignation some in the city have even speculated that the job has become 'too big' for one person. Even Ruud Gullit.

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