Guus Hiddink has been talking to FourFourTwo about his time managing Chelsea – and their infamous 2009 Champions League semi-final defeat.
The Blues were denied a number of decisions by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo in the Stamford Bridge clash against Barcelona, with multiple handball shouts and penalty appeals going unheard. Ultimately, Andres Iniesta scored the winner for Barça to send a disgruntled Chelsea home.
The match was so controversial that many fans touted their own conspiracy theories. Now, he tells FFT, Hiddink says that he can see why fans feel stitched up by UEFA over the match.
"That was a huge disappointment," the Dutchman says of that night. "We had held a really good Barça team to a 0-0 draw away, then took the lead at home and had chances to score more, but didn’t.
"We also had a few penalty appeals for obvious handballs, but the referee waved them off. Some people argued it was fixed. While deep down I don’t believe that, perhaps it was the only time I started to doubt it.
"Chelsea and Manchester United had played in the final the year before, and with the Premier League’s dominance, I started to have a few conspiracy theories, such as UEFA looking to avoid the same two teams reaching the final again.
"Although his goal hurt us, Iniesta was an unbelievable player. I spoke to him many years after in a different context. He had scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and Holland, and several years later he was booed in a friendly between the two countries.
"By then I was the Dutch manager, and my immediate reaction was to stand up and gesticulate at the crowd to stop it. Afterwards, I received a WhatsApp message from Iniesta himself, thanking me for that and for what I said. I just told him that it was a normal thing to do.
"Those things go beyond football – it’s the respect you have for somebody as a human being as well as a player."
For a limited time, you can get five copies of FourFourTwo for just £5! The offer ends on May 2, 2022.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.