One of soccer’s renowned coaches will come to Sacramento next month, thanks to an assist from his wife.
Dick Advocaat, who has coached throughout the world, will bring Sunderland AFC of the English Premier League to Sacramento to play friendlies against Republic FC on July 14 and Liga MX side Pachuca on July 19, both at Bonney Field.
Advocaat, 67, retired in late May after saving Sunderland from relegation. He joined the club in mid-March, replacing the fired Gus Poyet with the team reeling and one point above the relegation zone. He led the Black Cats to a 16th place finish by going 3-3-3 and producing some against-the-odds results during his short tenure.
But when he was offered a new deal last month he declined, suggesting his wife would divorce him if he stayed on for another season after promising her he would retire.
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On Thursday, he told reporters he had a change of heart because of the persistence of Sunderland officials and fans and, of course, the OK from his wife.
In appreciation, Sunderland fans raised more than $3,000 to buy her flowers, though most of the money is being donated to charity.
The move also has the support of the players.
“The lads love him because he came in and was honest and is a nice man,” Sunderland star striker Jermain Defoe told the Guardian. “When you achieve something like staying up, it’s difficult to walk away from that. Sometimes as a professional you want another challenge."
Advocaat was in tears after Sunderland secured Premier League survival with a 0-0 draw with third place Arsenal on May 20.
Advocaat has twice coached the Netherlands national team. He’s also coached national teams in Russia, Serbia, Belguim, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea.
He has won league titles twice with the Rangers FC in Scotland, with PSV Eindhoven in his homeland and with Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia.
As a defensive midfielder, Advocaat spent time in America. He played on loan with the San Francisco Gaels of the United Soccer Association in 1967 and with the NASL Chicago Sting in 1979 and 1980.