Phillip Cocu is a football managerh and a former Dutch football player. He played for clubs like SBV Vitesse, PSV Eindhoven, and Barcelona. Starting his career as a left-winger, Cocu has played in multiple positions throughout his playing career. Cocu has been part of the Dutch Eredivisie winning team four times and the La Liga once. He was part of the Dutch national team in the FIFA World Cup 1998. After retiring as a football player, Phillip Cocu decided to pursue coaching. He won the Eredivisie four times as well as the prestigious KNVB Cup twice in his managerial career. Cocu became very popular in the Dutch football after guiding PSV to three domestic top-tier league titles in a very short time. The popularity earned him many job offers across Europe and he is the current manager of the English Football League Championship Club Derby County.
Childhood & Early Life
Phillip Cocu was born on October 29, 1970, in Eindhoven and grew up in Zevenaar.
He started playing youth football for a local club named DCS and later joined the youth academy of De Graafschap.
By the age of seventeen, Cocu had already impressed a few scouts from Netherland’s top tier football league. He was signed by AZ Alkmaar and was drafted to their youth team straightaway.
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After joining the AZ (1988-1990) youth setup at the age of 17, Phillip Cocu was soon drafted into the first team and he made his debut in 1988 . He went on to make 50 appearances for the club playing as a left wide midfielder and scored eight goals.
Just after one season with the AZ Alkmaar first team, Cocu was sold to Vitesse Arnhem but his debut season was marred with a big injury. Cocu suffered a broken fibula and only made eight appearances in his first season at Vitesse.
In his second season at Vitesse, he played as a central midfielder and gradually started playing in deeper positions from the middle of the pitch. Between 1990 and 1995, Phillip Cocu made 137 appearances and scored 25 goals before moving to PSV Eindhoven in 1995.
Both PSV and Feyenoord triggered his release clause at Vitesse which put Vitesse out of contention of any possible decision making. After the release clause was triggered the ball went to the Cocu’s court and he eventually decided to go play for PSV Eindhoven.
Phillip Cocu was part of the KNVB Cup winning team in his debut season followed by the Dutch Eredivisie, the Dutch league title, in his second year at PSV. Cocu spent three seasons at the club making 95 appearances and scoring 31 times.
In 1996 season, Coco was part of the PSV team that went on to win the Johan Cruyff Shield . He decided not to sign a new contract with the club and moved to the Spanish giants FC Barcelona on a free transfer.
During his stint with Barcelona, Cocu was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker in the midfield alongside the Portuguese star Luis Figo and Spanish midfielder Pep Guardiola. The trio dominated the midfield and Cocu helped Barcelona win the league title in his debut season. In all, Cocu stayed at Barcelona for six years and made over 205 appearances, scoring 31 goals.
In 2004, Cocu returned to PSV and his second spell at his former club was successful than the previous. He helped PSV wIn three consecutive Dutch Eredivisie titles.
PSV reached the semi-finals of the 2004-05 Champions League edition and Cocu was given the captain’s armband by the manager Guus Hiddink after club captain Mark Van Bommel left for FC Barcelona.
Phillip Cocu made his international debut under manager Guus Hiddink in a friendly against Germany. Cocu went on to make 101 appearances for the national team and scored 10 goals.
He was part of the Dutch team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Holland lost to Brazil in the semifinals. Cocu scored two goals in the tournament.
After completing his coaching badges, Phillip Cocu returned to PSV to take charge of the youth system. During that time, Cocu was also appointed assistant of Dutch national team’s manager Bert van Marwijk. He continued to serve the national team as the assistant coach until he finished his coaching exams and decided to take charge of PSV as a caretaker manager after Fred Rutten was dismissed from his position.
Cocu’s spell at PSV as a manager was highly successful as under his stint PSV won six trophies in five years. In his second year at the club, PSV won the league title and the Johan Cruyff Shield.
His impressive stint at PSV as a manager earned him a lot of spotlight in Europe. He was pursued by many clubs in Europe and eventually joined Derby County as their manager in 2019 after Frank Lampard left his post.
Family & Personal Life
Phillip Cocu is separated from his wife with whom he has three sons.