Not only has he guided the Russians to the brink of their first major final in 20 years following their 3-1 extra-time win over his native Holland in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, he has also lifted the country back into world football's elite.

His achievements with South Korea, Australia and now Russia set him apart as arguably the game's leading tactician, but he even amazed himself in pulling off victory over the Dutch in Basle.

Prior to the match, the 61-year-old claimed he did not think it was possible to outsmart Marco van Basten's side but maybe they were just mind games.

The Dutch juggernaut ground to a halt in the face of Hiddink's tactics and an energetic Russia team who should have wrapped victory up without the need for extra time at St Jakob-Park.

It is the latest success story for Hiddink, who has certainly made an impression on his squad.

Midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov said: "He has shown us how it is possible to play.

"He knew how we should play against Sweden and Greece (in the group stages) and then against Holland.

"He knows about our technical abilities, about our physical abilities, and what we need to do to win. He's a top coach.

"He said we must play our game. We are not scared of anyone now."

Fellow midfielder Ivan Saenko, part of an engine room that overwhelmed their Dutch counterparts for long spells, added: "We are playing our own style - quick, with short passes.

"Our coach does not stop telling us that we can beat whichever team is put in front of us."

The Russians' 4-1 defeat to Spain in their opening group game reinforced what many people in England thought of Hiddink's team after their 3-0 loss in qualifying at Wembley - that they were technically gifted but physically weak and porous at the back.

But their defence stood up to scrutiny against the Dutch, only conceding in the 86th minute when Ruud van Nistelrooy stooped to head home a free-kick to cancel out Roman Pavlyuchenko's 56th-minute opener and take the game into added time.

They were able to recover, though, and after wasting a host of chances in the first 22 minutes of extra time, substitute Dmitri Torbinski and impressive forward Andrei Arshavin grabbed the goals to send Russia through.

So after what we have seen from the Russians over the past week, how does Hiddink explain what happened at Wembley that night when his team were steamrollered?

"I think England had a very good day that day - maybe the only one they had!" said the wily Dutchman.

"The team was in progress then. I kept on changing and looking for players who were sometimes not even playing for the high-ranked clubs in Russia.

"It is a rather young team but one thing I have found out - and it's amazing for me as well - is that this team is learning quickly in a short time about the tactical laws of the international game and also strategically to focus themselves on the weaknesses to neutralise the strengths of the opponents.

"They are very keen and very coachable."

Two more wins and, against all the odds, Hiddink's men will have emulated the side that won the first European Championship in 1960, when they played under the USSR banner.

Holland left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits Russia have the talent to go all the way but has spotted some chinks in their armour.

"On the night, I think Russia deserved to go through," said the Feyenoord utility man.

"We lost the ball in midfield a lot, and you can't lose the ball in those areas against them because they are very strong and quick there.

"At set-pieces, you can get at them and that's where we had our best chances and where we scored our goal from.

"But you have to stay together defensively. If you give them space, they will punish you."