Ruud Gullit set to return as his adventure ends

Moscow: Dutch legend Ruud Gullit was on Wednesday set to return home after his "adventure" as manager of the top Chechnya side came to a dramatic end amid humiliating defeat and accusations of a playboy lifestyle.

Terek Grozny offered Gullit the paltry consolation of coaching its youth side after he was ruthlessly sacked as manager following the ignominious 1-0 defeat with a 90th minute goal to unfancied Urals minnows Perm in the Russian Premier League.

The sacking was personally ordered by Chechnya`s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel turned Kremlin loyalist and strict Muslim who had rebuked Gullit for showing too much interest in nightclubs and drinking.

Kadyrov, who keeps a private zoo of wild cats and personally takes part in operations to eliminate Islamic militants, had issued Gullit with an astonishing ultimatum to either win the match or be sacked immediately.

Looking resigned to his fate, Gullit said in his televised post-match news conference that he had "already said goodbye to the team before the match as I knew I would be fired even if we won".

Terek midfielder Andrei Kobenko declined to give his views on Gullit`s sacking but expressed sympathy for the manager, whom he described as a "good and decent person who understood everyone".

Chechnya Sports Minister Haidar Alkhanov told a daily that Gullit would now be offered "work with the youth team" but said he would be allowed to go home if he preferred.

Asked about Gullit`s severance package, Alkhanov said: "We are going to discuss all these questions. Don`t worry about Gullit`s finances. We always behave decently in such situations."

Gullit himself made clear he had no intention of staying with Grozny to coach Chechen youths, quoted in a Dutch daily as saying he was "so tired that now I just want to relax".

With mild understatement he added: "Obviously this was not good for my CV. But on the other hand it has been an adventure."

In comments to a Russian television, Kadyrov again lashed out at Gullit`s apparent discomfort with Chechnya`s Islamic customs, saying that "some people don`t like that we have no discotheques, bars and drunkenness".

"They have all that in Kislovodsk," he added tartly, referring to the Russian spa resort north of Chechnya where Gullit and his team were based for most of the year instead of still tense Grozny.

The 48-year-old famed for his love of "sexy football" and two time world footballer of the year stunned observers earlier by accepting an invitation to coach Terek from Kadyrov.

Rights groups, who have accused Kadyrov of keeping a private militia to harass, torture and even kill opponents, expressed dismay Gullit had accepted the appointment.

But the Dutch master insisted that politics and football should not mix, while openly admitting that a generous salary -- which was never disclosed -- was part of the attraction.

"The money is good, I am not going to lie," he told a daily in a previous interview. "I am here for that and the adventure."

Terek now sit 14th in the 16-team Russian Premier League with three wins from 13 matches.

The Kremlin fought two wars in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union which left Grozny devastated. The capital has been rebuilt and security partly restored under Kadyrov but at a cost many rights activists say has been too great.

Bureau Report

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