The lowdown on new Derby boss Phillip Cocu

Phillip Cocu has been appointed as the new head coach at Derby, taking over following Frank Lampard’s departure for Chelsea.

Here, PA gives the lowdown on the 48-year-old former Barcelona midfielder, Holland international and PSV Eindhoven boss.

From humble beginnings

Cocu made his breakthrough at PSV Eindhoven
Cocu played for and coached PSV (Peter Byrne/PA)

Born in Eindhoven, but brought up in Zevenaar, Cocu started his career at AZ Alkmaar, moving to Vitesse Arnhem in 1990, only to suffer a broken leg during his first season.

A transfer to PSV followed in 1995, as did success, first with the Dutch Cup and then the 1997 Eredivisie title.

Onwards and upwards

Cocu (left) became a key player for Barcelona
Cocu (left) became a key player for Barcelona (Phil Noble/PA)

Developing a reputation as a midfield general with an eye for goal, Cocu soon attracted interest from Europe’s leading clubs and joined compatriot Louis Van Gaal at Barcelona in 1998.

In six seasons at the Nou Camp, the Dutchman won a league title and went on to captain the club, where he played alongside the likes of Pep Guardiola, Luis Figo and Xavi – but Champions League success proved out of reach.

He also played for Barcelona against Derby in a pre-season friendly at Pride Park in August 2001.

Back home

After nearly 300 games for Barcelona, then a record for an overseas player, Cocu returned to PSV in 2004, winning another three Eredivisie titles and helping the side reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Following a season in the United Arab Emirates at Al Jazira, Cocu retired from professional football in 2008.

Dutch courage

Cocu (right) won 101 caps for Holland, and reached the World Cup semi-finals
Cocu (right) won 101 caps for Holland and reached the World Cup semi-finals (Chris Bacon/PA)

Cocu was part of the Holland side which reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup against Brazil in France. The midfielder, though, saw his penalty in the shoot-out saved by Taffarel as the Dutch suffered a heartbreaking defeat.

He also captained the Oranje, making 101 international appearances, and helped them reach the last four of both Euro 2000, which they co-hosted with Belgium, eventually losing on penalties to Italy, and Euro 2004, beaten by hosts Portugal.

Talking tactics

Cocu worked with Dick Advocaat (right) as he moved into coaching
Cocu worked with Dick Advocaat, right, as he moved into coaching (Andrew Milligan/PA)

After hanging up his boots, Cocu returned to PSV as a youth team coach, going on to be appointed assistant manager and then caretaker boss, guiding the team to Dutch Cup success before taking on the role full-time in 2013 following the departure of Dick Advocaat.

He also worked with the Holland national team as assistant coach to Bert Van Marwijk, the squad reaching the 2010 World Cup final, where they were beaten by Spain.

Cocu looked to develop young players, including the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Memphis Depay and Jeffrey Bruma, signed from Chelsea during the summer of 2013.

Often utilising a zonal marking system which made them hard to break down, Cocu’s side then attacked on the break down the flanks.

It proved a winning formula as PSV claimed the 2015 Eredivisie crown – a first title since 2008 to break Ajax’s dominance –  before defending it the following season and winning it again in 2018.

No Turkish delight

Cocu left PSV after that third league crown and had a brief spell in Turkey with Fenerbahce, but he departed after only a few months following a poor start to the campaign.

“Unfortunately, we could not bring the club, with the resources available, to the position where it belongs,” he said in a statement in December 2018.

“Even though our time at Fenerbahce was short, we fell in love with Istanbul and the club.”

Derby fans will be hoping it proves love at first sight when the Dutchman starts on the next chapter of his illustrious career in the relentless Sky Bet Championship.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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