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Lure of lucre brings Hiddink back to Seoul

Seoul: Former South Korean World Cup coach Guus Hiddink arrived to a hero’s welcome on Wednesday, lured by lucrative deals with business firms and the Korea Football Association (KFA).

During his five-day stay here, Hiddink, the Dutch coach who took South Korea to the last four of the 2002 World Cup, will sign a two-year contract with the KFA to act as an advisor for South Korean football, a deal news reports here say is worth more than $400,000.

He is also keeping an open mind about the offer from the KFA of a second stint as national coach in two years’ time.

“I am happy to be back in South Korea,” Hiddink said. “I’ll do my best to help with South Korean football.”

He is also scheduled to sign a million-dollar contract to endorse a Samsung credit card, operated by the leading business group, until the end of 2003 and another $1.8-million, two-year endorsement deal with Kyobo Life Insurance Co.

He will also attend a ‘meet the author’ session to push sales of his autobiography My Way.

On Saturday, Hiddink will attend an inter-Korean football friendly at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul.

North Korea has agreed to send a 42-strong delegation, including 20 players, for the first inter-Korean friendly match in 12 years.

Hiddink returned to The Netherlands to coach his former charges PSV Eindhoven after completing a dramatic 18-month mission to make South Korea Asia’s top team.

Since South Korea became the first Asian team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup — co-hosted with Japan — Hiddink has become the most popular foreigner in the country’s history.

He has been made an honorary citizen and showered with financial rewards and advertising contracts.

Hiddink had earlier promised to stay involved in Korean football as an advisor ahead of the 2004 Olympics and 2006 World Cup.

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