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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Hiddink weighs up options
Germany coach Rudi Voeller (right) applauds Hiddink
Germany coach Rudi Voeller (right) applauds Hiddink
He is the hero of a nation and soon to become the first foreigner to be granted South Korean citizenship.

But Guus Hiddink appears to have only one more match in charge of the Red Devils

Hiddink's team may have lost their hard-fought World Cup semi-final 1-0 to Germany on Tuesday, but the result has had little impact on his soaring reputation within football.

He is the only coach to have taken two different nations to the last four at the World Cup and the only one to have guided an Asian team to such heights.

South Korea fans hold aloft posters of Guus Hiddink
South Koreans are unanimous in wanting Hiddink to stay

But the amiable Dutchman's contract with the Koreans is up after Saturday's third-place play-off in Taegu and he will become a free agent should he decide, as expected, against an extension.

While there is huge pressure on him to stay from a grateful Korean public, the man who took Holland to the semi-finals in France four years ago has given no sign that he is about to have a change of heart and stay on.

The fact that he has lived in a hotel throughout his time in Korea shows he has always viewed his task as a short-term one, limited to steering the team through the challenge of co-hosting the World Cup.

Always the professional, the most marketable coach in football is now focused on the third-place play-off match against the losers of Wednesday's Brazil-Turkey semi-final.

But he already appears to be in retrospective mood.

"We can be proud of the boys and what they did not just tonight but especially over the long run of the tournament," he said after the semi-final defeat.

"The expectations in Korea were enormous but not realistic. Earlier in the tournament I tried to keep the pressure away from the team.

"The team has really come together but you have to keep in mind that they play in the Korean league, which is a second or third-class league."

Hiddink appreciates the incredible support his players have received
Hiddink appreciates the incredible support his players have received

It was a campaign in which he took a country without a win in five previous World Cups on a remarkable run past top European opposition.

Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain all lost to his carefully nurtured team.

Hiddink will now be able to take his time and his pick of some of the best jobs in the game.

As well as his outstanding achievements at international level Hiddink has an admirable record in club football.

He won four straight Dutch league titles and a 1988 treble that included the Dutch Cup and European Cup with PSV Eindhoven.

He also won the World Club Cup in 1998 during a stint with Real Madrid.

Reports coming out of the Netherlands suggest that Hiddink has already made up his mind to return to PSV.

But there is no confirmation yet that he plans a move home and, for now, the options for this fluent English and Spanish speaker remain open across Europe.

And, if things do not work out in the fickle club game, he knows there is at least one country that longs for him to write another remarkable chapter in their sporting history.


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SOUTH KOREA 3 +3 7
USA 3 -1 4
PORTUGAL 3 +2 3
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