'A lovely man': Football mourns death of former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek

Former Socceroos World Cup coach Pim Verbeek has died at the age of 63 following a four-year battle with cancer.

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

He was recommended to the FFA by former Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink, who employed Verbeek as an assistant coach when leading South Korea to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup.

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

Pim Verbeek led the Socceroos at the 2010 World Cup. Pic: Getty

It was the first time the Socceroos would attempt to reach the finals via Asia, but they achieved it with ease, conceding just one goal in the final round of qualifying thanks to a 0-0 draw against Qatar with two games to spare.

Regarded by many as one of the genuinely nicest guys in football, news of Verbeek’s death has rocked the sport.

Former Socceroos stars who played under Verbeek, including Tim Cahill, led the many tributes to the former coach.

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

A powerful Germany outfit that would go on to reach the semi-finals hammered Verbeek's side 4-0 in a disastrous opening match in Durban that also saw Tim Cahill sent-off.

Pim Verbeek lost his battle with cancer aged 63.

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 knock-out 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.

Verbeek began his coaching career with Dutch giants Feyenoord in 1989, followed by spells with Groningen and Fortuna Sittard.

He then moved to Japan to become head coach of Omiya Ardija before linking up with Hiddink in South Korea.

Current Socceroos coach Graham Arnold worked as Pim Verbeek's assistant. Pic: Getty

Verbeek returned to Seoul after the 2006 World Cup to become head coach, and led South Korea to third place at the Asian Cup in 2007 before stepping down.

After leaving the Socceroos Verbeek spent the next four years managing Morocco's Under-23 team.

His final job in the game came in 2016 as the coach of Oman. Verbeek picked up his first trophy as a coach, winning the 2017-18 Gulf Cup title.

With AAP