Sun, Oct 15, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Socceroo claims Guus Hiddink tried to destroy him

WORLD CUP WOE Stan Lazaridis said that the former Australian national team boss made the final year of his international career the least pleasant

AFP , SYDNEY

Another Socceroo player has come out against former national coach Guus Hiddink, saying the Dutch maestro tried to destroy him.

Stan Lazaridis completed a 13-year, 60-game international playing career against Paraguay in Brisbane last week, but he has joined goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in criticizing the methods of Hiddink.

Hiddink took on hero status in Australia for plotting the Socceroos' path to the second round of this year's World Cup in Germany, where they were only eliminated after a disputed last-minute penalty to eventual champions Italy.

Lazaridis, the former West Ham and Birmingham City winger, says his last year in the green and gold was his most painful, falling out of favor with Hiddink just as he was about to fulfil a lifelong ambition of playing in a World Cup.

breaking point

"It was as if Hiddink was trying to break me mentally and physically at certain training sessions and I was close to breaking point at some stages," Lazaridis told the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

"I probably just scraped in if I was being honest. As soon as Guus took over, I wasn't one of his favorites so I was always behind the eight-ball and I only ever played one or two games under him," he said.

"Will I be sending him a Christmas card? I doubt it, but I respect him. I didn't play under him [in the Cup] so, of course, I wasn't happy but it's interesting what Mark Schwarzer now says about his man-management ... and he actually played," Lazaridis said.

"He was a great coach, tactician and manager. I've got nothing personal against him. We've moved on, I didn't have the best of times, but I stood up to him," Lazaridis said.

man-management

Schwarzer criticized Hiddink's man-management skills in a newly-released diary of the Socceroos' first World Cup campaign in 32 years.

The Middlesbrough keeper revealed his disappointment at being dumped from the make-or-break pool game against Croatia in favor of longtime rival Zeljko Kalac, who went on to have a horror match.

Schwarzer said Hiddink could have handled the Australian goalkeeping situation "a whole lot better."

The battle for first-choice between Schwarzer and Kalac, fired up by Hiddink's cat-and-mouse selection approach, was the biggest talking point within the Australian team before and during the World Cup finals.

Hiddink is now the Russian national coach.

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