Outgoing coach Pim Verbeek says the Australian coaching position was one of the hardest jobs in world football as Football Federation Australia began the search for his replacement.
Dutchman Verbeek announced this week that he would step down following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, after steering the Socceroos to the tournament and their highest-ever ranking of 14 last September. Reports have linked fellow Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, currently in charge of Turkish giants Galatasaray, with the looming vacancy.
Verbeek, 54, said it was the constant travelling and the toll it took on his family that made his mind up not to seek an extension to his 30-month contract with the FFA. "Being Socceroos coach is one of the hardest jobs in the world, without a doubt," Verbeek wrote in a column for Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper. "Why? Try clocking up almost one million kilometres of travel in two-and-a-half years. That's what my staff say my itinerary has been, and I believe it."
Verbeek said although he was surrounded by fantastic people and dedicated players, nothing could prepare him for the sheer quantity of travel and the broad focus of the job. "When I took the job I quite rightly committed to spending a certain amount of time in Australia to get to know the A-League and its players and immerse myself in the Australian culture," he said. "But when you also have to consider those who are playing everywhere from the United Kingdom to Japan, it can become hard to know where you are at the start of each day.
"For instance, I've been in Europe for nine days now. For the first five days I was woken by jetlag in the middle of the night. Next week, I'm going to Japan to see Mark Milligan, Matthew Spiranovic and others. Then the whole thing will start again."
Verbeek said that being away so much took a toll on his Dutch-based family, especially after nearly 30 years coaching around the world. "The lifestyle here is fantastic and in terms of the support staff, resources and players, I will struggle to get a job as good as this," he said. "It's a fantastic honour to coach this team. But this is a good time to go."