Dutch legend loving life with Socceroos
FEW players boast a better football resume than Mark van Bommel but several still carry the scars of battle from duels with the former Dutch midfield enforcer.
The engaging Socceroos assistant coach, who formed one half of the so-called 'bash brothers' with Nigel de Jong during the 2010 World Cup, is very much the funny man to his straight man father-in-law Bert van Marwijk.
Now aged 40, but still looking like he could still put on his boots and play, the former Dutch skipper has already struck a chord with many of the Australian players ahead of Saturday morning's (EDT) friendly against Norway.
With a trophy cabinet boasting a Champions League winners' medal in addition to league gongs from Spain, Italy, Holland and Germany, van Bommel has plenty of war stories to share from a glittering career that earned him 78 international caps.
AC Milan, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven all benefited from his services, proof if it were needed, that perceptions of him as nothing more than a hatchet man are way off the mark.
Van Bommel believes the criticism aimed at his 2010 Dutch side, who won every match aside from the final, when they were edged out 1-0 by Spain in extra time, is unfair.
"The final was a nervous game from both sides and it wasn't nice to see," van Bommel said.
"But the six matches before were nice to see. But it doesn't matter if you win all six and lose the final that is what people remember as well."
Van Marwijk has preached to his players that a relaxed atmosphere is the core to any success and van Bommel said his door's always open to any player who wants his advice.
However, he's wary of trying to forcibly impose his views given the little time he's spent with the squad.
"We speak if you see them in the corridor or the lobby but you can't force it, It has to be natural," he said.
"I spoke to some of the guys about the German leagues but we've only had three games together I am sure we will all get to know each other better ahead of the World Cup.
"It's difficult now, but in May we will have time to train and see how it develops.
"We are going to develop them as soon as possible and maybe on Friday not everything will go as well as we want but we will try."