The players of the Dutch national team understand Ronald Koeman's choice to leave the Dutch national team immediately for an adventure at FC Barcelona, even though his departure comes quite abruptly and less than a year before the European Championship.
"Under Koeman's leadership, we have taken enormous steps in recent years and laid the foundations for a bright future. We are very grateful to him for that. We understand that he wants to make his dream come true at FC Barcelona and we grant him this", the selection of Orange in a joint statement.
57-year-old Koeman initially planned to go to the European Championship with the Orange, but it was an open secret that he always wanted to become FC Barcelona coach. The North Hollander signed a two-year contract with his dream club on Wednesday, where he succeeds the dismissed Quique Setién.
Captain Virgil van Dijk posted a message on Twitter earlier on Wednesday. "Orange says goodbye to an experienced and successful coach. I understand that he wants to make his dream come true. Recent events in the world and his personal life have certainly played a role in this."
In addition to the corona crisis and the European Championship postponed by a year, Van Dijk is probably referring to the news in early May that Koeman was admitted to hospital with heart problems. He underwent cardiac catheterization there and was allowed to return home a few days later.
Koeman's trainer career in 18 photos
Ronald Koeman's first job as head coach was at Vitesse, where he started in 2000. © Pro Shots
Koeman led the Arnhem club to fourth place in 2001. © Pro Shots
His first top club in the Netherlands was Ajax, with which he became champion in 2002 and 2004. © Pro Shots
During the 2004/2005 season, Koeman left. © Pro Shots
In the 2005/2006 season, Koeman worked at Benfica in Portugal. © Pro Shots
In 2006 Koeman returned to the Netherlands, where he became a trainer of PSV. © Pro Shots
Koeman left PSV in 2007 for an adventure at Valencia. © Pro Shots
Koeman as the trainer of Valencia. © Pro Shots
In 2009 Koeman became AZ's trainer. © Pro Shots
After a few months, Koeman left AZ again. © Pro Shots
Koeman's next club was Feyenoord, where he worked from 2011 to 2014. © Pro Shots
Koeman finished second with Feyenoord twice. © Pro Shots
In 2014 Koeman left for Southampton. © Getty Images
Koeman's second Premier League club was Everton. © Pro Shots
Koeman was fired in 2017. © Pro Shots
In 2018, Koeman became the national coach of Orange. © Pro Shots
Koeman reached the final of the Nations League with the Orange squad and qualified for the European Championship. Due to the corona crisis and his departure to Barcelona, the Orange team will be at the European Championship in 2021 with another national coach. © Pro Shots
Koeman will be the fifth Dutch trainer of Barcelona. © Pro Shots
'There is a special bond between us'
The 29-year-old Van Dijk did not only experience Koeman with the Orange squad, but also with Southampton, where he played from 2015 to 2017. At the time, Koeman was the trainer of 'The Saints' and responsible for the arrival of Van Dijk.
"There is a special bond between us," said the current Liverpool defender. "He brought me to the Premier League and gave me the captaincy. I congratulate him on his transfer to Barcelona and wish him luck."
The transfer from Koeman to Barcelona was confirmed by the Spanish top club on Wednesday morning. Dwight Lodeweges will temporarily take over his duties as interim national coach at Orange, until the KNVB has found a successor for Koeman.
"We will continue on this path and will do everything we can to realize our dreams in Orange and make the Orange fans proud", say the players of the Dutch national team. "And if that succeeds, that is certainly also the merit of Koeman."
See also: Analysis: Koeman stands for big cleaning at FC Barcelona