"It was a surprise call," Ruud van Nistelrooy told UEFA.com after being named as assistant to Guus Hiddink in the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2016 campaign.
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Surprised to be brought in as Guus Hiddink's assistant for the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, Ruud van Nistelrooy told UEFA.com he was looking forward to giving the Oranje the benefit of his experience.
The former Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF striker scored 35 goals in 70 appearances for the Netherlands from 1998 to 2011. However, he was as surprised as anyone at his sudden return to the national team as assistant coach, where he will link up with Hiddink after the Netherlands' 2014 FIFA World Cup adventure.
"It was a surprise call from Hiddink," he told UEFA.com. "I wasn't really expecting anything like that, but when a job like that comes by, it's an honour. Working with Hiddink, with his experience, for me, starting out as a coach, it's fantastic. Spending two years with him, with the Dutch national team, trying to help players improve – it can't get any better."
One of Van Nistelrooy's tasks, of course, will be to improve the Netherlands, though he insisted his brief was not just to help out the strikers. "I'll be an assistant coach, so I'll be helping everyone, together with Danny Blind," he said. "I can use my experiences – how to deal with pressure, how I prepared, how I did things, situations that occurred – but that's general things that I can share with any player."
His expertise is attacking, but Van Nistelrooy knows that means he can teach defenders a thing or two as well. "I played against many defenders, and I can explain what I found annoying," he said. "So in that sense I hope it can work out in different angles."
Drawn against the Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan in Group A, the Netherlands will not have an easy ride as they bid to make it to the first 24-team UEFA European Championship, in France. "Obviously, now the first two go directly to [the finals] so the chances to qualify are increased; the Czech Republic and Turkey, I think, are the strongest, along with Holland, in the group."
Van Nistelrooy's aim, nonetheless, is for the Netherlands to make it to France as group winners. "That's the target, yes," he said.