Nice guy in dog-eat-dog world: Arnold's tribute to Verbeek
THE man who worked most closely with Pim Verbeek at the helm of the Socceroos has paid tribute to the Dutchman after his death from cancer at the age of 63.
Graham Arnold was appointed as Verbeek's assistant with the Australian team in late 2007 after being its interim head coach, but what could have been an awkward marriage became a friendship that led to Verbeek attending Arnold's wedding in 2015.
"Football is a dog eat dog environment, and it can be a horrible world," Arnold told The Daily Telegraph.
"But Pim was probably the nicest person you'd ever find in the world."
Arnold, who became full-time Socceroos head coach himself last year, had been the assistant coach since 2000 under Frank Farina and Guus Hiddink, before a year-long stint as interim head coach while Football Federation Australia courted and signed Dick Advocaat for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
When Advocaat reneged at the last minute and Verbeek was quickly parachuted in, it fell to Arnold to brief him on the players available in the few weeks until Australia's first qualifier in February 2008.
"It was a weird moment in time, after Guus Hiddink had left following the 2006 World Cup," Arnold said.
"I never really wanted the Socceroos job, I was asked to be the interim and it was really Dick Advocaat's team. I was basically doing what he asked me to do.
"When Dick decided to stay in Russia and FFA started a new search, I knew of Verbeek because I'd met him with Guus in Holland previously, and even then it was clear immediately what sort of a guy he was.
"Such a polite, good-natured man. People forget that we had only played a few Asian Cup qualifiers, this was our first pathway into Asia to qualify for the World Cup, and it was tough.
"But Pim qualified us with games to spare, the top team in Asia, and he was so passionate about his job.
"His communication with the players was fantastic. He'd send them little texts, 'well done', 'great goal', always on top of what they were doing.
"I'm not sure you'll find a player with a bad word to say about him, which says everything."
Several of the players from that period paid tribute to Verbeek in the hours after his death was announced late on Thursday.
Very sad and heartbreaking news today of Pim Verbeek’s passing. 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. My condolences to the Verbeek family. #rip #socceroos pic.twitter.com/9UCcHnHZb8— Mark Schwarzer (@schwarzer_mark) November 28, 2019
Mark Schwarzer tweeted of hearing "very sad and heartbreaking news today of Pim Verbeek's passing. 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."
Craig Moore, who Verbeek persuaded to come out of international retirement, described him as a "lovely man who I was lucky enough to work with at club and national team level. RIP Pim."
Lovely man who I was lucky enough to work with at club and National team level.— Craig Moore (@CraigMoore_18) November 28, 2019
RIP Pim 🙏🙏🙏 https://t.co/AQzvx9hzmD
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