RUNNING THE GAME: Hiddink, who recently took over Russia's soccer team, has high aspirations for both his players and the nation.
RIGA - Guus Hiddink became the new coach of the Russian national soccer team after signing a two-year deal on April 14 worth up to $5 million per year, according to press reports. The 59-year-old Dutchman's contract lasts until Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria, although he has the option of extending his position to the 2010 World Cup.
Yuri Syomin resigned as coach in November after his team failed to qualify for the World Cup despite not losing a game under him.
Hiddink, who has just led PSV Eindhoven to a sixth Dutch title, also coaches Australia part-time and led them to their first World Cup tournament in 32 years.
He led the Netherlands to the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup in France, and in 2002 guided South Korea to the same stage. He has also coached Spanish sides Valencia, Real Madrid and Real Betis, as well as Turkey's Fenerbahce.
Hiddink, who was recently linked with the soon-to-be vacant England coach's job, will be the first foreigner to coach Russia.
"I am very proud that I can give my contribution to develop Russian soccer and make Russia a great soccer country again because the potential is enormous," he told reporters. "If I didn't believe in success, I wouldn't have come here. I am very ambitious to be successful with all the people here in Russia. They are on the edge of a new period."
Post-Soviet Russia has qualified for the finals of the World Cup or European championship four times but have never advanced past the group stages.
Chelsea and CSKA Moscow owner Roman Abramovich is helping the Russian Football Federation pay Hiddink's record salary, which also includes performance related bonuses.
The Russian FF president Vitaly Mutko said Hiddink's payment package was partly funded by Abramovich, who is financing an ambitious program designed to boost Russian soccer after having consistently under-achieved since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"Guus is a very important person for Russian soccer. He will help us to unite around a common idea, and bring authority back to Russian soccer," Mutko said.
The RFF president also said that Hiddink would help develop Russia's under-21 soccer team.