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Koeman's journey from 'villain' to Saint
More than two decades after breaking English fans’ hearts, Ronald Koeman will look to win over those of the Saints supporters.
The 51-year-old yesterday took charge at St Mary’s, arguably becoming the most decorated person ever to hold the manager’s position at the club.
Perhaps only fellow European Cup winner Graeme Souness and ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle could claim to have been of a similar profile at the time of their arrivals.
A Dutch legend, Koeman was an integral part of the 1988 Netherlands side that won the European Championship, while he also lifted two European Cups as a player.
But it was his role in stopping England from qualifying for the 1994 World Cup that he is perhaps most famous for on these shores.
In a make-or-break game away to the Netherlands in October 1993, Koeman would prove to be the central figure.
As David Platt raced through on goal in the second half, with the score 0-0, he was hauled back by Koeman.
Somehow, much to the fury of England manager Graham Taylor, he escaped with just a yellow card.
Minutes later, he scored with a free-kick to give Holland the lead, before Dennis Bergkamp added a second, to prevent England reaching USA ’94.
There are many moments from a glittering career that Koeman is far more deserving of being renowned for, though.
An attacking centre-half, he began his professional career with Groningen, making his debut as a 17-year-old in 1980.
Three years later, he would win the first of 78 caps for the Netherlands, while also moving to Dutch giants Ajax.
An Eredivisie title and a KNVB Cup winner’s medal would follow in his time with the Amsterdam club, before a move to PSV Eindhoven in 1986.
What followed would be a more fruitful three years than even Koeman could surely have imagined.
PSV won the Dutch top-flight in each season, while they also captured two KNVB Cups.
But the most famous success came in the 1987/88 campaign, when they completed a remarkable treble by winning the European Cup for the first time in their history.
Koeman netted his side’s opening penalty in the shoot-out against Benfica, as PSV triumphed 6-5 on spot kicks, following a 0-0 draw in Stuttgart.
As if that particular year could not get any better for him, he was then part of the famous Dutch team that swept aside all before them in the 1988 European Championship, securing the only major title in the country’s history.
Barcelona then signed him in 1989, with Koeman becoming part of Johan Cruyff’s ‘dream team’.
In six years there, he would win ten trophies, including four La Liga titles.
The most famous triumph came in 1992, though, when he fired home a stunning free-kick to defeat Sampdoria 1-0 in the European Cup final at Wembley.
That was one of 88 goals he would score in 264 appearances in Spain.
Koeman hung up his boots in 1997 after a two-year spell with Feyenoord, and he retired as the top-scoring defender in world football history, with 239 goals in 685 career appearances, while netting 14 times for his country.
He began his coaching career shortly afterwards, working initially as an assistant to Netherlands boss Guus Hiddink at the 1998 World Cup, before becoming Louis van Gaal’s right-hand man at Barcelona.
He spent two years with the Spanish giants, where José Mourinho was also on the staff.
Koeman will be reunited with both men this season, with Mourinho at Chelsea and Van Gaal taking charge at Manchester United.
His first managerial position came in January 2000, when he took the reins at Vitesse Arnhem.
After an impressive first 18 months as a head coach, he was snapped up by Ajax.
He spent four years in Amsterdam, guiding the club to a pair of Eredivisie titles, a KNVB Cup, and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Koeman moved to Benfica in 2005, again reaching the last eight of the Champions League.
However, failure to win the league saw him leave after just one season.
Koeman then joined PSV, winning the Eredivisie title, ahead of a switch to Valencia in 2007.
He delivered a Copa del Rey crown with the Spanish club, but poor form in the league resulted in his dismissal in April 2008.
After taking a year out, he took over at AZ in 2009, but left after just a few months following a bad start to the season.
Far better times would follow at Feyenoord, however.
Koeman arrived there in 2011 and, in his three seasons with the Rotterdam club, he oversaw a huge upturn in fortunes, recording two runner-up finishes in the Dutch top-flight, as well as a third place.
He also promoted a number of players from the youth ranks, with Feyenoord ultimately providing five players for the Dutch World Cup squad this summer.
With his contract expiring, he opted to leave in order to seek a new challenge and, for Saints, it appears the timing couldn’t have been better.
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