'True gentleman' - tributes as ex-Australia coach Pim Verbeek dies at 63

Pim Verbeek had successful spells with Australia, South Korea and Oman (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)
Pim Verbeek had successful spells with Australia, South Korea and Oman (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)

Sydney (AFP) - Former players and officials paid tribute on Friday after Pim Verbeek, who coached the Socceroos at the 2010 World Cup and also saw success with South Korea and Oman, died from cancer at the age of 63.

Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer, who both played under the Dutchman at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, called him a "gentleman", while Football Federation Australia said he would be sadly missed.

"Pim made a great mark on Australian football, and is fondly remembered by the people that worked closely with him, many members of the media, as well as the public," said FFA chairman Chris Nikou.

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"Pim's record as coach of the Socceroos can only be looked back on as strong, however the outpouring of sincere sentiments since news of his passing filtered through highlights the esteem in which he was kept by many."

Verbeek was assistant coach of the Koreans at the 2002 World Cup, when they reached the semi-finals under Guus Hiddink, and at the 2006 tournament.

After taking over from Dick Advocaat as head coach in 2006, Verbeek led South Korea to third place at the 2007 Asian Cup before becoming Australia coach just weeks before World Cup qualifying began.

Verbeek duly guided the Socceroos to their second straight World Cup in 2010, where they lost 4-0 to Germany, drew 1-1 with Ghana and beat Serbia 2-1, missing out on the knockout phase on goal difference.

"So sad to lose such a gentleman and someone who I respected a lot as a manager and person. Rest in peace Pim Verbeek," tweeted Cahill, while Schwarzer called the news "heartbreaking".

"Very sad and heartbreaking news today of Pim Verbeek's passing," wrote the former goalkeeper.

"He was an amazing human being, a true gentleman with an infectious smile. Someone I have had the privilege to call a friend. You will never be forgotten."

Verbeek managed the Socceroos in 33 matches, securing 18 wins and nine draws.

He spent his entire playing career at Sparta Rotterdam before injury forced his retirement at the age of just 25.

In his later years as a coach, Verbeek coached Morocco's Under-23s for three years before taking over Oman in 2016, leading them to the last 16 for the first time at this year's Asian Cup.

After Oman were knocked out by Iran, Verbeek announced his retirement, saying it would be his last job in football.

"Those who enjoyed the 2002 World Cup will always remember Hiddink and Verbeek. I hope he rests in peace," one South Korean fan wrote on Twitter.

"Thanks for the happy memories," added another.

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