The world title you never knew van Marwijk had

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Australian coach Bert van Marwijk is renowned as an uncompromising manager, but he's also already a world champion.

Sound far-fetched? A futuristic fantasy?

An impossible dream for Australia's football coach at next month's World Cup in Russia?

Well, van Marwijk already is a world champion - not at football, but a card game.

The Dutchman, who will oversee Australia's World Cup campaign and then step aside for Graham Arnold, is a klaverjassen champion.

The game, similar to bridge, is among the most popular card games in the Netherlands.

Traditionally played in social clubs and cafes, klaverjassen is played in pairs.

And in 1975, Lambertus 'Bert' van Marwijk teamed with his father to win the world championship.

Some 43 years on, van Marwijk still keeps his cards close to his chest.

Van Marwijk, who turns 66 on May 19, publicly uses broad brush strokes rather than intricate sketches.

Many reckon he's on a hiding to nothing. But he's hiding something.

"I have something in mind but I will not explain to you," he said when announcing his preliminary Socceroos World Cup squad.

Van Marwijk was appointed Australian coach in January as a short-term fix, after Ange Postecoglou quit two months earlier.

Like Postecoglou, van Marwijk had resigned his post after securing World Cup qualification - for Saudi Arabia.

Van Marwijk quit when the Saudis insisted he permanently live in the kingdom.

"I will not let anyone tell me how to do my job," he said when resigning.

The Saudis had played Australia in the qualification campaign, so he already had studied the Socceroos.

Plus, he coached at a World Cup before.

In 2010, van Marwijk led the Netherlands to the World Cup final but lost 1-0 in extra-time to Spain.

The Dutch, long-renowned for their penchant for eye-pleasing football, went down swinging: eight yellow cards and one red.

In a pointer to his philosophy, van Marwijk was unperturbed: bugger total football, he wanted the result.

"I like to have the ball and I like to play fast football," he said.

"I like to play football in a way that you don't touch a ball three times if you can touch it two times.

"I like to play offensive football. But I also like to win.

"So I will not hesitate to take decisions in games that I think that I can win in another way."

Van Marwijk's outlook has been cultured over his footballing lifetime.

In 1975, the year he became a klaverjassen world champion, van Marwijk won his sole cap for the Netherlands - his international career lasted 45 minutes until substituted.

Five years later, aged 28, van Marwijk conceded the cards he'd been dealt as an injury-plagued winger and started youth coaching.

In 1988, he ended his 19-year playing career which began at the Go Ahead Eagles, a Dutch first-division club in his historic home town of Deventer.

Focused on coaching, he spent seven years with amateur Dutch clubs until 1998 when appointed manager of first-division Fortuna Sittard - he took the club to the Dutch Cup final a year later, but lost.

In 2000, van Marwijk took over Feyenoord and became known as an uncompromising boss by his players, including Australian Brett Emerton.

"He can be quite demanding ... if you don't do what he asks, you will find yourself sitting on the sidelines pretty quickly," Emerton said.

His tough love delivered success - he won a UEFA Cup with Feyenoord before moving to Germany in 2004 to manage Borussia Dortmund.

Van Marwijk spent two-and-a-half years in Dortmund before a second spell at Feyenoord, where he won the Dutch Cup before being appointed the Netherlands' coach in 2008.

The high-profile nature of the national job was uncomfortable for a private man who prefers shadows to a spotlight.

Dutch journalists labelled van Marwijk pragmatic. Conservative. No-nonsense. No-frills.

"Publicly, he lacks charm. He is dour and dry and quickly irritated," one journalist wrote.

After the 2010 World Cup run, seven authors combined to write a biography of van Marwijk.

One of the authors, Edwin Schoon, was tasked with a chapter on the manager's philosophy.

The author found the common theme from van Marwijk's players was: "You're fine as long as you stick to his rules. When you cross the line, though, you're in trouble."

Van Marwijk and the Oranje parted after a disappointing 2012 European Championships.

He returned to Germany to coach Hamburg, where he spent two years before taking the reins of Saudi Arabia in 2015.

Now, he's tunnel-visioned on Australia's World Cup campaign which starts against France on June 16 before fixtures against Denmark and Peru.

How far can he take the Socceroos?

"That is very difficult. And I don't even think about it," van Marwijk said.

"I only think about the first game. That, for me, is the most important.

"And I already told the players: I don't want to hear anything about the other games ... I'm not the type who is thinking about what is happening afterwards."

Source: AAP