Barcelona hires Koeman, renews its links with Dutch soccer

FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, Aug. 6 2005, then Benfica's Dutch coach Ronal Koeman reacts during a friendly soccer match against Juventus, at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal.  Netherlands national coach, 57-year old Ronald Koeman underwent a heart procedure Sunday May 3, 2020, at a hospital in Amsterdam after feeling pain in his chest, his management company said in a statement. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, FILE)
FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, Aug. 6 2005, then Benfica's Dutch coach Ronal Koeman reacts during a friendly soccer match against Juventus, at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal. Netherlands national coach, 57-year old Ronald Koeman underwent a heart procedure Sunday May 3, 2020, at a hospital in Amsterdam after feeling pain in his chest, his management company said in a statement. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, FILE) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BARCELONA – Barcelona is rekindling its links with Dutch soccer.

The Spanish team officially announced Ronald Koeman as its new coach on Wednesday, a day after club president Josep Bartomeu said the Dutchman accepted the coaching offer and only details needed to be sorted out.

“Today is a day to be happy and proud,” Koeman said after being introduced by Bartomeu. “Everyone knows what Barça means to me. It's my home.”

Koeman returns to the club where he thrived as a defender under Dutch great Johan Cruyff in the early 1990s. It was Koeman's extra-time winner in the final against Sampdoria at Wembley Stadium that gave Barcelona its first European title nearly three decades ago.

“The blaugrana legend, hero of Wembley, the man who handed Barça their first ever victory in the European Cup returns to Camp Nou,” Barcelona said after announcing a two-year deal with the coach.

Koeman had been coaching the Dutch national team and had a contract until 2022. He led the team to a runner-up finish in last year’s inaugural Nations League and was set to coach the team at this year’s European Championship before it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We believe in him because we know him very well,” Bartomeu told BarçaTV on Tuesday. "We know how he thinks and how his teams play. We know he has experience, that he played in Cruyff's dream team and that he knows Barça and its way of understanding soccer.”

It was with another Dutch coach, Frank Rijkaard, that Barcelona won its second European trophy in 2006. Rijkaard also won two Spanish league titles in his five seasons with the club before being replaced by Pep Guardiola.