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Hiddink: Asmir Begović rewarded with rare start for being a model professional

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Asmir Begović arrived last summer to be a challenger, mentor, and backup to young Thibaut Courtois, and while he has hardly played since the fall, overall, he's probably made more appearances than we ever really imagined under ideal circumstances.  With Begovic in goal, Chelsea's fortunes weren't really better at all than with Courtois, but with every passing day, the older player's exploits were remembered with increasing fondness.  Just for that reason, it was great to see him get a start in a Premier League match for the first time under Hiddink.

"The idea behind it was that Begovic, being a good goalie, which he has proven already in many Premier League games, is doing his job as a professional very well in training to keep himself in shape. Every training session he is 100 per cent committed and on top of that he is helping out Thibaut Courtois in a very good professional way, and that's why I rewarded him by having him play at least once."

-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC

The 28-year-old was as solid as ever, making all the expected saves, but also (understandably) being quite out of synch with his defenders and still not very good at long kicks.  Sigurdsson's goal was actually the first goal Begović had conceded in five games, dating back to another 1-0 loss, to Stoke City, at the start of November.  But his value clearly extends beyond just on-pitch exploits; his experience is a great asset on the training pitch, in the dressing room, and in media appearances.

That said, the Bosnian international did enjoy getting his second start under Hiddink, even if the result did not quite go our way in the end.

"It meant a lot, it's obviously nice to get another start. It's been a while. It was nice to play again, I shook off the cobwebs in the first few minutes and after that it was pretty good."

"It's important for any player to know you're part of the manager's plans and part of the club's plans."

-Asmir Begović; source: Sky via Goal

After recent exit rumors, the last couple interviews with Begović have all pointed to the goalkeeper staying with Chelsea next season (alongside goalkeeper coach Christophe Lollichon, with whom he apparently has a good relationship).  Courtois's future is a bit less clear, but Begović will be a useful part of the squad regardless of what the future holds for the younger man.