After being part of the backroom team with the Netherlands and Barcelona, the now Southampton boss took his first step into management at Arnhem in 2000.
Koeman’s time at the Eredivisie side was short – spending just a season at the club – but relatively successful, leading them into the UEFA Cup. His success at Arnhem set him on the managerial path which has included stops at the likes of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, Benfica and Valencia before taking the reins at St Mary’s last summer.
A remarkable first campaign at the helm has led to European football returning to Southampton for the first time in 12 years, with Vitesse now standing in their way in the Europa League third qualifying round.
“It was a great experience for me,” Koeman said. “It was my first club to be first-team manager.
“At that time, Vitesse was growing. It was two years because they got some problems with the chairman at that time and with the sponsor of the club.
“After that, the club was a little bit more down and now it’s in a new situation in the club because they have an owner who is connected to Chelsea.
“In my time, we played in front of 25,000 to 26,000 people every home game and now if they play against Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord, there is 20,000 or 22,000 maximum.
“Maybe the people lost a little bit of the connection, the feeling with the club, because it is not really like before. I don’t know. That’s from a distance.”
Koeman is referring to the relationship with Chelsea which goes back to 2010, when Vitesse became the first Dutch club to be bought by foreign investors.
Nemanja Matic, Patrick van Aanholt and Tomas Kalas are among a string of players to have swapped Chelsea for Arnhem on a temporary basis.
Izzy Brown, Lewis Baker, Nathan and Danilo Pantic are the current crop farmed out by the Blues – a situation which would make Koeman uncomfortable as Vitesse head coach.
“I didn’t have that at that time and I don’t know,” he added. “It looks like it is difficult, it looks difficult for the manager because you start every season with a new team and that’s difficult.
“It is difficult to have really the spirit in the team, I think, because all the young players come to play, but they still like to go back to Chelsea or even to play at a higher level.
“I don’t know if I can work in that. I don’t know.”