Frank Rijkaard embraced a "big chance at a wonderful club" on Monday afternoon when he agreed to become the fourth Dutch coach in FC Barcelona's history.
Best in the business
Rijkaard was presented as the latest occupant of the Camp Nou hot seat, replacing the departing Radomir Antic, and the former Netherlands coach told reporters he was "proud" to be joining "the best club in the world".
The 40-year-old explained that he was looking forward to rebuilding the club alongside new Barcelona president Joan Laporta and technical director Txiki Begiristain. "I share their footballing and organisational philosophies," said the former AFC Ajax and AC Milan player, who has signed a four-year contract.
A new dawn
"This is the first day for a new team. I will be in contact with them every hour of the day so that we can make the best possible start. I believe in this project, and I am ready and willing to meet the challenge."
Rijkaard's assistant will be Henk ten Cate, who will quit his post as coach of Dutch side NAC Breda, the club he has just guided into the UEFA Cup, to join him in Catalonia. However, Rijkaard played down any Dutch connection, past or present, at his press conference.
The fact he follows in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal in taking the Barcelona job, "doesn't interest me", he said before adding: "We cannot look back. Cruyff may be a major figure in the world of football but we are responsible for what happens now at Barça. We all know what has gone on here in the past. We have to accept that situation and look forward to a new one."
The best option
Meanwhile, Joan Laporta said the appointment of Rijkaard had been "his preferred option", despite Barcelona's reported interest in two other Dutch coaches, Guus Hiddink and Ronald Koeman. "There were other alternatives to Rijkaard, but fortunately the best option is the one that materialised in the end," he said.
Rijkaard left his previous coaching position at Sparta Rotterdam after the club were relegated from the Dutch top flight in May last year. He was previously in charge of the Dutch national side, whom he led to third place at EURO 2000™.
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