Friends, hello! Today is a memorable day for our football – exactly 15 years ago Guus Hiddink headed the Russian national team and our journey began – with victories, emotions and very big matches. Therefore, in a new column I will tell you about Gus, his jokes and our football life.
It is a pleasure to remember that time.
What the heroes of Euro 2008 look like now as part of the Russian national team
The legendary match Russia – Netherlands is 12 years old!
In the early days, Gus was remembered for not understanding how we live, what we fly and what we eat. We flew to the training camp in Sochi in an old Yak-42, which had to be entered by stairs through the rear compartment – I was sitting at the very end and heard the frightened Gus swearing in English: “What kind of plane is this, will we even fly?”
Flew. We arrived in the mountains – but not to one of the expensive hotels to which Gus was accustomed, but to a classic boarding house, where a room is a bed, two bedside tables and a TV. In the morning we learned that Gus had failed to cope with the lamp: until the middle of the night he figured out how it was switched on; ended up covering him with a blanket and only then fell asleep.
At breakfast, the team was told that we were packing up and moving. “How? Just arrived. ” At a meeting with Mutko, the coach asked that the team no longer fly on such planes and live in such hotels, otherwise the national team will lose its level. As a result, we moved to a good five-star hotel and switched to Boeings and airbuses.
It’s the same in Moscow. We left the base in Bor, where there was no television and where they lived without communication, like in prison – since then we stayed in hotels near the Kremlin, where families could come to the players.
There are also changes in nutrition. Gus diversified the menu, made it so that we could choose not from meat or fish, but from chicken, beef and several varieties of fish. Three first courses were also prepared for us: borscht, various soups. Gus advocated for the players to live in comfort.
He had no signs: on the bus we listened to music and talked, during classes we joked and smiled. I looked at the training process in contrast to what Cherchesov had in “Spartak”, where for “hee-hee, ha-ha” they could stop the training and push. And Gus could interrupt the workout and tell a funny story or anecdote, arousing respect and trust in himself.
True, had it not been for the result, Gus probably would have behaved differently.
Guus Hiddink (foreground)
Photo: RIA Novosti
We respected him, loved him and won for his sake.
I remember how we returned to the Marriott hotel on Tverskaya from training at the Streltsov stadium. The very center, we had a kilometer left when our bus got stuck in a traffic jam: there was a sea of cars, pedestrians walk between them, we could drive this distance for two hours. As we were late for dinner, Gus commanded: “Guys, let’s go out.”
The doors opened: wet footballers in slippers and boots in their hands, Gus, Borodyuk, Korneev, coaches and doctors lined up and, like ants, all 25 people went on the way to the hotel.
There was such a laugh!
People got out of cars and took pictures, beeping.
The day before the match with the British, Gus wanted to kick me out.
He loved discipline, but I got stuck in a traffic jam on the Garden Ring and was half an hour late for the team dinner. I called Borodyuk: “What should I do?” – “Leave the car in the middle of the road, get on the subway and drive” – ”How will I do it?” I understood: something will happen, Gus may be kicked out of the national team, because with this act I let him down.
As a result, he arrived, apologized, he reacted normally: “Tomorrow the game, I don’t want to kick you out, but after the match we’ll talk.”
After the match he said: “You see, what a fine fellow I am that I didn’t kick you out! But I wanted to. ” Borodyuk later said that I could really have been removed from the national team, but Gus felt something.
In England, by the way, no one knew that I had scored two goals for them. Not a single Tottenham footballer remembered that match and was not at all interested in Russian football: they knew CSKA, Spartak, Zenit from the Champions League and that’s it.
I heard the expression of the Sleeping Giant after the victory over England.
“Gus, it hurts me when journalists and friends say this. Couldn’t you have another name for me? ” I asked. “I see you as a football giant, you are useful, but in some games you really sleep,” replied Gus.
Well, I came up with a nickname and came up with – the topic was no longer brought up. But the rest of the time Gus called me Pavlo: “Pavlo, how are you?”
Dmitry Torbinsky and Roman Pavlyuchenko
Photo: RIA Novosti
He talked a lot with each player, could call after a game or training and calmly, over a cup of coffee, praise or tune. I was surprised: “Gus, do you drink wine before going to bed?” I’m not an amateur, I practically don’t drink wine, but Gus replied that with age I will understand this drink and switch to it.
Well, let’s see!
Hiddink took over the Curacao national team. Is there football there?
Maybe we’ll see Gus again at the 2022 World Cup!
Gus did not give me any separate advice – neither before the matches, nor before leaving for the Premier League.
We crossed paths at the Chelsea-Tottenham game. Gus was glad that I was in a strong league and scored, encouraged – we chatted and hugged seven minutes before the match, and then shook hands and wished each other good luck.
This was our last meeting on the field, but just a meeting happened during the World Championship in Moscow. They prepared a surprise for Gus: they didn’t say that I would come to the studio. And I bought flowers, suddenly came in and heard: “Pavlo, what are you doing here?” We talked live, then sat in a restaurant with Gus and Borodyuk. Okay!
The rights to the video belong to the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “VGTRK”. You can watch the video on the Russia 24 youtube channel.
When Gus left the national team, tears came to my eyes.
When we said goodbye in the summer of 2018 after dinner at a restaurant – the same thing. I thought, “Maybe we’ll never see each other again.”
Gus is like a father. It’s hard to say goodbye to him: then for a couple of days you only think about him.
It’s great that 15 years ago he got the national team!