Ex-Socceroos coach Verbeek dies age 63

Ian McCullough
Former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has died at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer

Mark Schwarzer has led tributes to former Socceroos World Cup coach Pim Verbeek who died late on Thursday night following a four-year battle with cancer.

The 63-year-old was appointed in 2007 after compatriot Dick Advocaat back-flipped on taking the role.

Schwarzer, who played in every game of the 2010 World Cup under Verbeek, posted a heartfelt tribute on Twitter to mark the passing of the Dutchman.

"Very sad and heartbreaking news today of Pim Verbeek's passing," Schwarzer wrote.

"He was an amazing human being, a true gentleman with an infectious smile. Someone I have had the privilege to call a friend. You will never be forgotten. My condolences to the Verbeek family."

Former Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, who scored against Serbia at the 2010 FIFA World Cup under Verbeek, also paid tribute to his former manager on Twitter.

"So sad to lose such a gentleman and someone who I respected a lot as a manager and person. Rest in peace Pim Verbeek," he wrote.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou expressed his condolences to Verbeek's family and friends.

"The thoughts and sympathies of everyone in Australia's football community are with Pim Verbeek's nearest and dearest at this difficult time," Nikou said.

"Pim made a great mark on Australian football and is fondly remembered by the people that worked closely with him, many members of the media, as well as the public.

"Pim's record as coach of the Socceroos can only be looked back on as strong, however the outpouring of sincere sentiments since news of his passing filtered through last night highlights the esteem in which he was kept by many."

Former Australia international Rob Cornthwaite, who made his international debut under Verbeek, recalled a moment of kindness from Verbeek at a team meeting.

"Saddened to hear the passing of Pim Verbeek," he wrote on Twitter.

"Gave me my Socceroos debut.

"Once I was late to a team meeting and I apologised. After the meeting he put his arm around me and gave me a cheeky smile saying "don't be late again" he was a kind man.

Mile Sterjovski also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Verbeek.

"Very sad to hear the passing of my former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek. He was a great coach but more importantly he was an even better person. Gone too soon."

Verbeek was recommended to the FFA by former Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink.

The former Sparta Rotterdam player took over just weeks before Australia began their qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Socceroos reached the finals conceding just one goal in the final round of qualifying in Asia thanks to a 0-0 draw against Qatar with two games to spare.

Despite securing a spot at a second successive World Cup, Verbeek's playing style was accused of being too conservative and was criticised for his dismissive views about the quality of players in the A-League.

Eventual semi-finalists Germany hammered Verbeek's side 4-0 in a disastrous opening match in Durban that also saw Tim Cahill sent-off.

A 1-1 draw with Ghana left the Socceroos needing to beat Serbia in their final match to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Goals from Brett Holman and Cahill did secure a 2-1 victory but other results went against Verbeek's side and they missed out on goal difference to bring the coach's reign to a frustrating finish.