ISTANBUL - Frank Rijkaard signed a surprise two-year deal to coach Galatasaray on Friday, taking over from Bulent Korkmaz after a disappointing season for the Turkish club. The former Barcelona coach received an enthusiastic welcome from the club's fans as he arrived at the airport in Istanbul on Friday afternoon to sign a deal after a rapid flurry of talks. "Everything went real fast. We spoke together again, with my manager, yesterday and today we decided we were very happy to work together," Rijkaard told a news conference. The deal was reached after Galatasaray chairman Adnan Polat travelled to Spain two days ago and followed the club's failure to reach agreement with Juande Ramos and Bernd Schuster, the web site of the Milliyet daily newspaper reported. Johan Neeskens would join Dutchman Rijkaard at the club in a deal worth around 4 million euro, the report said. ENORMOUS CHALLENGE Rijkaard became the 35th foreign coach of Galatasaray and the fifth coach at the club in two years. "I think it is in a honour. I think it is a big club - the biggest club in Turkey and it is an enormous challenge for me and my staff to work here," Rijkaard said. Galatasaray, UEFA Cup champions in 2000 and 17 times domestic champions, had a disappointing season and finished fifth in the league, 10 points adrift of champions Besiktas. "I hope we can give something to the public, the fans of Galatasaray, give them good football and work together as a team," he added. Former Galatasaray captain Korkmaz had been appointed in February in place of Michael Skibbe, who was sacked after a poor run of results. Korkmaz had a contract until the end of the 2009-2010 season. Rijkaard took charge of Barcelona in 2003 after four years of underachievement and led them to back-to-back league titles and victory in the Champions League in 2006. He left the club in May last year. During his time at Barcelona he earned plaudits for his commitment to open, attacking football, unflappable temperament and skilful management of high-profile players.
5 June 2009
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