Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit admitted today that he knew nothing about Terek Grozny until being named coach of the Chechen side and was "stunned" by the offer to take charge.
The two-time world player of the year also praised the Russian Premier League and said that his main goal was one day leading Terek into Europe. Gullit told two Moscow sports dailies that he did not expect to spend much time in a city that is only now rebuilding from two wars in the past 15 years.
"Obviously I could have never possibly imagined one day ending up in the Caucasus. Terek's phone call stunned me. But life is full of surprises," the former Dutch captain told Sovetsky Sport. Some Russian commentators have suggested that Gullit may have a hard time adjusting to life in Chechnya after spending his recent years managing clubs in Los Angeles and London.
Gullit told Sport Express that he would "only be coming to Grozny for the matches" and spending the rest of his time at a team training base about 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the Chechen capital. "The only thing that concerns me at this point is the language barrier," he added.
Terek finished 12th in Russia's 16-team top division and only started playing in Grozny after a nearly 15-year absence in 2008.
Gullit conceded that he knew little about either the team or its players when he received the invitation to coach the club. "I have a couple of tapes of some Terek matches. But I have only managed to watch segments from a few of their games," he told Sovetsky Sport.
Yet Gullit said he welcomed the challenge of getting a little-known team into Europe and climbing the ranks of the Russian league.
"I wanted to work in European football and Terek is setting itself the goal of playing in European cups," he told Sport Express. "I was also led to believe the club has the opportunity to strengthen the squad, and they think that my presence will help them obtain strong players. So these were basically my motives and I agreed to manage Terek."