Gullit vows to turn LA Galaxy into real football team

Los Angeles, Nov 11 (Xinhua) Ruud Gullit, Dutch football star of the 1980s and 1990s, has vowed to turn the struggling Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Los Angeles Galaxy into a real football team, the Los Angeles Times reported.

After meeting the Galaxy players, the 45-year-old Gullit was confident and upbeat. His task, he said Saturday, was to turn the Galaxy into a real team, something he will do in tandem with his newly named assistant coach Cobi Jones.

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Gullit, former AC Milan star and two-time world player of the year, will not be able to gauge his players’ ability until he sees them in action on the tour of Australia and New Zealand.

“I hope to find a team that is curious, that is ambitious and that plays with its heart,” he was quoted as saying.

Galaxy officials said they hoped Gullit would elevate the team to among the world’s elite.

“We have signed a world-class coach and leader for this franchise, a soccer man who understands how the game is played and managed at the highest level,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of AEG, the sports franchise and venue owner that owns the Galaxy.

“Ruud will immediately put a system in place that will blend his instinct and knowledge of the game with the assets and talent that are part of the Galaxy franchise.

“Ruud is an exceptional leader whose commitment, character and experience make him the perfect fit for our team and our organization.”

Gullit was named Friday to succeed Frank Yallop, who was released from his contract Monday to become coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, an MLS expansion team that will begin play next spring.

“I have always looked to take on important challenges and the opportunity to manage the L.A. Galaxy is an exiting opportunity at this stage in my career,” Gullit said.

Former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said Gullit will “have a great impact”.

“That a coach or soccer person of Ruud’s accomplishments would consider the US – it’s just like (David) Beckham,” Schmid, now coach of MLS club Columbus Crew, said. “It says our league is moving forward. It shows that coaches are viewing our league with a lot more respect.”

Jones, who has played with the Galaxy since its inception in 1996, was named as an assistant coach and had announced earlier that he would retire as a player at the conclusion of the Galaxy’s postseason international tour next month.

As a player, Gullit helped lead the Netherlands to the 1988 European championship, was named the world ‘Player of the Year’ by the British magazine World Soccer in 1987 and 1989. When he was named ‘European Footballer of the Year’ in 1987, he dedicated the award to the then-imprisoned anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

Gullit inherits a team that has missed the MLS playoffs in each of the past two seasons.